SHADUF Project


Shaduf members at the kick-off meeting in Brussels, 2004

The SHADUF Project officially began on 1st July, 2004. The first meeting was held in Brussels, Belgium on 9th July, 2004. Four follow-up meetings were held in Adrar (Algeria), Valencia (Spain), Brussels (Belgium), and Florence (Italy).

In addition, a dissemination event and a SHADUF meeting took place in Crete on the occasion of the 1st IWA International Symposium on "Water and Wastewater Technologies in Ancient Civilizations", 28-30 October 2006, Iraklio, Greece. The final meeting is scheduled to take place in Cairo (Egypt),

in September 2007.

The project aims to create a database of traditional techniques and to focus attention on the rich and diverse water harvesting, water irrigation and wastewater-related heritage in the Mediterranean region. It also aims to provide a model of how archaeological data, integrated with historical information and traditional knowledge, can be used to build a new awareness of the role of water and wastewater in contemporary society and nature. This approach will integrate a long-term understanding of water management with efforts to establish sustainable development strategies.

Water Harvesting Techniques


Traditional water harvesting systems in North African and Southwest Asia include some of the oldest sustainable methods of water harvesting in arid lands.

An understanding of these systems which have lasted for millennia is crucial for current efforts to combat desertification and rehabilitate degraded desert habitats at a time when climate change is compounding the threat to many areas in North Africa and Southwest Asia which are -

extremely vulnerable to shifts in climatic conditions.

At present there are two main classifications of traditional water harvestng systems one by Oweis et al. (2004) and the other by Prinz (1996. 2000).

The classification by Oweis et al. (2004) (see below) starts by subdividing techniques on the basis of the size of the catchment area, which is the area from which water is collected. Small catchment areas (micro-catchment) are then further classifed as roof-top and on-farm technqiues. By contrast, techniques that depend on large catchment areas (macro-catchment) are further subdivided into wadi bed and off-wadi systems. Prinz bases his classification initially on the basis of the source of water; namely, rainwater, floodwater, and groundwater. The current proposed classification follows Prinz in using the source of water as its starting point, however, in the current system a recognition is made of harvesting moisture (dew and air moisture), snow and snow meltwater. In addition, a differentiation is made between ephemeral wadi water and floodwater from perennial water, like the Nile. Water from surface runoff is also recognized as a category on its own.

In many cases, harvested water is not used immediately and is stored for use later in cisterns, reservoirs, tanks, or wells. These storage facilities are often lined to prevent water loss, and may be covered to minimize evaporation and prevent introudction of unwanted sand or litter. Similar facilities, however, are used to harvest groundwater. Since they depend on seepage from groundwater, they are mostly unlined cavities. In many cases water harvesting, as in the case of surface runoff, is based on either channeling runoff to storage areas or enhancing infiltration to maximize amount of moisture in the ground.