Water Harvesting

Water harvesting is "The collection and management of floodwater or rainwater runoff to increase water availability for domestic and agricultural use as well as ecosystem sustenance." (www.wocat.net)

Water Harvesting – Guidelines to Good Practice” was published in 2013 by WOCAT, in collaboration with several other organizations. It introduces some of the concepts behind water harvesting, proposes a classification system, assesses their suitability for various purposes, and provides some case studies. It is available at https://www.wocat.net/en/knowledge-base/documentation-analysis/recent-pu... .

A "Regional Centre on Capacity Development and Research in Water Harvesting" has recently been created as a UNESCO "Category 2 Center". "Established in 2014, the aim of this centre is to provide training and research opportunities; generate and provide scientific and technical information and support the exchange of information, in particular with regard to local scientific, technical and managerial knowledge, in the various domains of water harvesting" (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/ihp/wate...). The center is being established at the Public Water Corporation, Khartoum, Sudan, and may be contacted at ahmed_eltayeb2000(at)yahoo.com.

UNESCO/G-WADI Workshop on Water Harvesting

DfID UK and UNESCO (Tehran and Cairo) are kindly acknowledged for their support of the workshop
20-22 November 2006
Aleppo, Syria

Workshop Report  |  Papers & Presentations |  Case & Regional Studies |  Participants


Coordinated by Oxford University with the local arrangements and programme being organized by ICARDA. Prof W M Edmunds and C Cardona (Editors)


The UNESCO G-WADI NetworkThe strategic objective of the G-WADI Network is to strengthen the global capacity to manage the water resources of arid and semi-arid areas. Its primary aim is to build an effective global community through integration of selected existing material from networks, centres, organizations and individuals. The Network promotes international and regional cooperation in these areas.

Interest was expressed at the Second Global meeting of G-WADI in Paris 2005 that Water Harvesting should become a new web-based initiative for 2006. This would encompass both rainwater harvesting (RWH) and managed aquifer recharge (MAR). The collection and storage of rainwater has been a traditional activity in the Indian Subcontinent as well as in countries of the Middle East and North Africa for more than two millennia. Water harvesting is also now a growing practice especially in many semi-arid zones and has a strong tradition especially in West Asia and Middle East. Water harvesting is a key activity in helping poorer communities in rural areas to find water security, thereby promoting sustainable livelihoods. However water harvesting at many scales is also taking place in urban and rural environments.


  • The purpose of the Aleppo workshop was to develop a G-WADI programme on Water Harvesting and with the following objectives:
  • Linking the UNESCO G-WADI activity with those of other International Organizations active in the same field, including the IAH (International Association of Hydrogeologists), IWHA (International Water History Association) ICQHS (International Centre on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures) and others in the region including ICARDA and ACSAD (Arab Centre for Semi Arid Zones and Drylands
  • To compare the practice of RWH across the regions of the “Old World” as a basis for inter-comparison with other global semi-arid regions
  • Summary of the state of the art through a series of invited talks and discussion
  • Develop a programme of case studies from invited contributions and best practice from all regions, especially studies which have proper validation
  • Consider ways in which the web site may be used to disseminate and discuss design criteria for water harvesting, raising awareness and link to traditional technologies where water harvesting is well known
  • Consider use of a systems approach to link small-scale activities in rainwater harvesting, surface water storage and MAR. The opportunity also exists to apply satellite based tools (HYDIS for example) to consider rainfall patterns and drought index
  • To generate links and interest with institutions, NGOs working in the field of RWH and MAR in the Asia–Middle-East–Mediterranean region as basis for extension and dissemination worldwide.
Local arrangements and scientific requirements

The meeting was coordinated by Oxford University with the local arrangements and programme being organized by ICARDA. The meeting was held at ICARDA Headquarters (some 30km from Aleppo). The programme is included as Appendix 1 and the full list of participants as Appendix 4.

Since the purpose of the workshop was to create a web activity on the subject of RWH, participants were invited to submit titles and short abstracts of their presentations in advance of the meeting. Oral presentations were invited as Powerpoint slides and 4-page written papers were also contributed. Participants were also invited to bring along any printed materials on water harvesting, particularly items meant to provide guidance, along good pictures, diagrams, video, maps that might be useful in developing the web site.