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VIDEO: The Last Kankan of Nahkchivan

We've written before about water being one of two critical factors in ending hunger. Solving the problem of water scarcity is one of the world's greatest challenges. Australia's former governor general recently said the world faces looming food and water shortages for which governments aren't prepared. But what happens when you have water but no way to get to it?

The former Soviet Union brought electricity and a pipe water system to Nahkhchivan, Azerbaijan, but that system has fallen into complete disrepair due to lack of funds for maintenance. People have migrated and stopped growing food.

"If there was enough water, no one would have left the villages and people would have continued working on their land," said Alverdi Ismailov, the president of a water users group.

So the people of Nahkhchivan are looking to their past for a way to access fresh water: a man-made tunnel and well system called kahriz that uses gravity to distribute water. But they need a kankan--an expert in ancient construction skills--to help them. Enter 71-year-old Yunis Ibragimov.

"I heard that they were looking for kankans. One day someone knocked on my door. He said that they needed my help to fix a kahriz," said Ibragimov. "When we discussed my salary, I said that I would do it for any amount of money."

Now, with the support of the International Organization for Migration, 100 more kankans have been trained and 70 kahrizs have been rehabilitated at a cost of $12,000 each--cheap compared to rehabbing and maintaining a fuel-run pipe water system.

This story is part of our Wednesday ViewChange video series.

 

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Now, with the support of the International Organization for Migration, 100 more kankans have been trained and 70 kahrizs have been rehabilitated at a cost of $12,000 each--cheap compared to rehabbing and maintaining a fuel-run pipe water system.

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