International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

Go to Arabic site :-)

© 2006 NDRD        Imprint        Disclaimer


Traditional Knowledge of Baluch People on the Management and Use of Surface Waters

Bahman Atamoradi ¹, Mohammad Nohtani ², Abdolbaset Ghorbani ³*

¹Natural Resource Management Office, Iranshahr, Iran

² Department of Watershed and Rang Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Zabol, Iran
³ Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica Research Center
Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Baluch people are living in the southern parts of Sistan & Baluchestan Province, SE of Iran. They used to live in a migratory lifestyle in the past but at present they are living in villages and in a semi-migratory style. Sistan has a dry and desertic climate and the mean annual precipitation is about 100 mm. Annual temperature variation is between -9.4  C to 47  C. The flora of Sistan is not rich and vast areas of it are almost bare of vegetation.

One of the big problems which local people living in this sever condition are facing is the low precipitation. But these people have adapted themselves to this conditions and developed different ways of water management to survive in hard conditions. Information regarding water management systems in the area has been collected through participant observation and interview with local people in villages. Also information from literature has been reviewed.

Traditional systems of water management and storage including Hutak and Khushab have helped them to cope with the low precipitation and make use effectively of this low and scattered raining in the area. In Hutak system which is common in the Dashtyary county of Chabahar District, people make big holes at the end of watersheds and the rain water is collected and stored in these holes (Hutaks). Local people use this water for drinking and washing as well as for some plantations around these water reserves. The number of Hutaks around each village depends on the population of village and livestock. In Sarbaz and Nikshahr Districts, people establish channels around seasonal rivers and valley sheds to direct surface water from raining to their farms. This system is called Khushab in the local language. The oldest Khoshab system in this area goes back to the time of Mongolian invasion. In Khash district and in the hills of Taftan Mountains, local people adopted Terrace making system to preserve soil and collect surface water from raining and use it for farming. This system has helped them to establish plantations on the hills of Taftan. Baluch people have adopted these traditional systems to cope with their severe environmental conditions and survive in extreme conditions. This traditional knowledge which is gained over centuries and transmitted through generations, showed its effectiveness for survival of these people. Thus this knowledge should be documented precisely and assessed scientifically and practiced using new technologies to assist in the development of area and its inhabitants.