IOM Teams Up with Azeri Academia to Study Ancient Water Supply Systems

Migration and Climate Change

Ganja, Azerbaijan – The lack of sustainable water supplies has always been a factor in human migration. As the climate changes, this phenomenon has become even more significant, and now IOM in Azerbaijan is embarking on a study of some of humanity’s oldest and most efficient water supply systems.  

The study focuses on the kahriz: a man-made, centuries-old, gravity-fed traditional water-supply system that does not need electricity or fossil fuel to function. This method – very much alive in Azerbaijan and the surrounding region – ensures access to water for current and future generations and contributes to the local communities’ quality of life.  

A Project Implementation Agreement on the establishment of a Kahriz Research and Information Centre and kahriz engineering course was signed last week in Ganja,  Azerbaijan’s second city, between IOM Chief of Mission Vladimir Gjorgjiev, and Ibrahim Jafarov, rector of Azerbaijan State Agricultural University (ASAU).  

The Kahriz Research and Information Centre will be a unique facility for collecting, researching and disseminating information and knowledge on kahriz systems. ASAU faculty members will receive training on kahriz engineering and develop a training curriculum jointly with IOM.   

“We are already implementing a project to renovate 40 kahrizes in selected regions of Azerbaijan close to IDPs communities, but we want to ensure sustainability of this process so that collected experience and knowledge will pass to the next generations,” said Gjorgjiev. 

ASAU rector Ibrahim Jafarov noted that the university has “all the necessary capacity, both human and facility resources, for implementing this project to a high level, and we believe that this partnership will open new research perspectives to sustainability of kahriz engineering.”  

The project is financed by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and focuses on improving the water supply in rural areas through the renovation of over 40 kahriz systems in areas which have a high number of internally displaced persons. In addition to renovating the kahrizes, the project includes components of local capacity building, irrigation improvement, support for IDPs’ small business start-ups, among others. 

For more information please contact Ilqar Xudiyev at IOM Azerbaijan, Tel: +994 50 319 6680, Email 

  • IOM Chief of Mission Vladimir Gjorgjiev (left), and Ibrahim Jafarov, Rector of Azerbaijan State Agricultural University (ASAU) at the signing ceremony committing the organizations to establishing a kahriz research centre. Photo: IOM

  • IOM staff working on the kahriz (water supply system) at Chinarli, Azerbaijan. Photo: IOM