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Tigris River Flotilla Begins Historic Voyage Highlighting Importance of Water in Turkey and Iraq

Insights + Opinion

Pete Nichols

Nature Iraq Foundation, Nature Iraq and Waterkeepers Iraq officially launched the Tigris River Flotilla outside of Hasankeyf, Turkey on Sept. 15. The launch was the first leg in the Flotilla of traditional Mesopotamian boats that will journey down the Tigris River on an historic voyage of celebration, education and data collection to bring awareness to the importance of the Tigris River to the communities of Turkey and Iraq.

Participants in the launch included local citizens, boat builders and Iraqi Sheiks who made the long journey from Bosra near the southern marshlands of Iraq, an area that relies heavily on the waters of the Tigris for its survival. As the Flotilla entered into the ancient village of Hasankeyf, a city threatened by the construction of a nearby dam, crowds of citizens cheered the participants and admired the traditional boats built specifically for this journey.
 
As the Flotilla continues from Turkey into Iraq, participants from different countries will float down the river using modern and traditional boats. The traditional boats—a tarada, guffa and kalak—were built by local communities in both Turkey and Iraq in celebration of the unique cultural heritage of these communities and unite their people through common tradecraft. Using these traditional boats, Nature Iraq and its partners will host a combination of presentations on water quality and vulnerable ecosystems, environmental clean-up events and community-based art projects to raise awareness about the mounting threats to the Tigris River and the cultural and environmental resources it provides.


 
With scheduled events in Hasankeyf, Turkey, and Feys Khabor, Baghdad and Chibaish, Iraq, in the Mesopotamian Marshlands, the Flotilla will connect water conservation issues with local peoples’ daily lives and raise global awareness of this endangered ecosystem. Along the way, Nature Iraq and its partners will use local media, interactive maps, Tigris River Flotilla blog, Tigris River Flotilla Facebook page and Nature Iraq Foundation website to bring the world on board for this historic voyage.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

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