The Case of Tehran Historic Qanats
Keywords:traditional urban water infrastructures, stakeholders engagement, community-based partnership, qanat rehabilitation, qanat, participatory approach
Qanats have played a vital role in underground water extraction since ancient times based on the community-based water management schemes in Iran. Due to recent urban sprawl and development pressures, qanats are progressively abandoned and degraded in the cities and are considered as endangered assets. To be sustainable, in addition to physical maintenance, the ecological and social aspects of qanat management systems, as the main characteristic of Urban Water Infrastructures in Iran, also need to be taken into account. A review of the traditional participatory management systems in Iran, as well as the contemporary community-based interventions (CBI) in the context of qanats, demonstrates the significant role of public participation in this regard. This research aims to provide solutions and recommendations for enhancement of stakeholder engagement in contemporary qanat rehabilitation practices by adapting the traditional communal management techniques and multi-stakeholder approaches to qanat maintenance in Iran. For this purpose, the transformation of the key urban water stakeholders from past to present are studied and mapped based on their roles and influence on decision making process for the management of qanats. The resulting illustration of the stakeholders’ networks and the comparative study of inter-relationships not only reveals today’s institutional gaps and missing links in qanats’ management procedures, but also highlights the former community-based coordination mechanisms that used to support the smooth functioning of this socio-technical infrastructure by promoting constructive interactions among conflicting parties. In order to tackle contemporary governance challenges, this research also provides a set of practical recommendations to adjust those traditional learnings to new conditions by addressing the physical, environmental, and socio-cultural aspects of qanats in Tehran.