The international Center on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures gives a definition of 'Qanat’ as “an underground gallery that conveys water from an aquifer or a water source to less elevated fields. In practice, a Qanat consists of a series of vertical shafts in sloping ground, interconnected at the bottom by a tunnel with a gradient more gentle than that of the ground. The first shaft (mother well) is sunk, usually into an alluvial fan, to a level below the groundwater table. Shafts are sunk at intervals of 20 to 200 meters in a line between the groundwater recharge zone and the irrigated land. From the air, a Qanat system looks like a line of anthills leading from the foothills across the desert to the greenery of an irrigated settlement.” This is mostly a physical definition for Qanat, and to my point of view, it does not give an anthropological or cultural view of the Qanat system. It does not illustrate the intangible aspects of this ancient irrigation system. Especially when local management of a Qanat is studied, then certain social aspects of Qanat are revealed. The experiences of women in Takaab region in Kerman province - as explained by my colleague, Nina Aminzadeh, show how Qanat can act as an issue for solidarity.
I had also the chance to learn about the local knowledge on management of pastures of the Bakhtiari tribe in Zagros Area in Iran. She properly explained how the land reform has affected the whole system of nomadic management of natural resources during the past five decades and with settlement of part of their population in villages, the process of overgrazing has also increased.
There were other presentations from Pakistan, India, and Nepal.