Fostering sustainable development by empowering indigenous abilities: The border zone case of rural south Lebanon

Georges Gharios (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In Lebanon, traditional customs and practices of water use evolved into lore still prevailing today. In south Lebanon, rural communities adapted to the characteristic scarcity in water resources of the region by harvesting and storing rainwater in birket. These open-air reservoirs constitute one of the many ancestral water practices that are the most appropriate for adaptation to uncertain changes and future water management. Despite the potential for more frequent and severe droughts in the future, and current sporadic formal access to water, birket-s are actually declining in numbers. In this paper I ask: what can be done to strengthen traditional social water arrangements and how can we reclaim them to better face the current and future water management problems? I first examine the set of laws, written and unwritten, at play. Then I analyse two cases of reclaimed birket-s to better understand the social and economic aspects of their functions in the community. I argue that this forms a palimpsest of legislative and administrative water competence that is better able to address uncertainty and water insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-140
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Communal pools
  • Custom and practices
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • South Lebanon
  • Water insecurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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