World Water Forums since 1996 have provided a continuum of opportunities for enabling multi-disciplinary discussions on elements of various challenges emerging due to increasing water scarcity. Over the years the forum has transformed into a grand platform bringing together more than 20000-30000 activists every three years from around the world that debate on these challenges and the lurking opportunities. The Forums provides opportunities to deliberate on various facets of WRM encompassing drinking water, sanitation, drought and flood extreme, transboundry waters, hydropower development, food security, irrigation management etc. A number of initiatives have emerged over the years from these forums.

The increasing demand of water for domestic, industry and nature has put pressure for more efficient use of water in agriculture through better irrigation and drainage management. ICID together with FAO and other partners has been actively involved in championing the agenda of efficient use of water for agriculture at the forums.

Now, ICID through the platform of World Irrigation Forums (WIFs) aims at bringing together all the stakeholders concerned with agriculture water management to focus discussions on all the issues, which have failed to attract focussed attention at the World Water Forums. WIFs are designed to supplement the efforts of WWC that would bring forward the views and concerns of the entire range of stakeholders from the field of agriculture water management including small holder farmers that would be the key to meet the future food insecurity challenges.

The World Irrigation Forums would provide the National Committees, which are centred around the irrigation management authorities within the countries, opportunities to interact with various stakeholders. The recommendations and inputs generated by interactions at the World Irrigation Forums would enable NCs to conceive sustainable solutions as part of their national plans. At the same time the Forums would help make a case for management of irrigation as a tool to mitigate the adverse impacts of greater variability of climate under changing climate. The Forum under the collaborative efforts of ICID, FAO and IWMI will therefore ‘walk the talk'.


It has hosted the most ancient civilizations of world history…

3 Religions, 4 Languages… It is the best example of living in a multicultural society

It is the cradle of ancient irrigation and agriculture…

It attracts attention with modern irrigation and agriculture…


Throughout the history, plenty of civilizations settled in Mesopotamia located between Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Mardin, established on top of a mountain, is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Mesopotamia.

Having received settlement in classical terms from 4500 BC, Mardin is an important open air museum that has been able to contain and blend many constructions from Subarian, Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Mitanian, Hittite, Assyrian, Persian, Arabian, Seljukian, Artuqid, and Ottoman Era.
Establishment of Mardin dates back to the time of Subarians according to Ancient Near East history. (4500-3500 BC).

Sumerian king Lugarzergiz subjugated Mardin in his expedition until the Mediterranean Sea in 2850 BC. Having reached to an important level in urbanism, irrigation, and agriculture, Sumerians left Mardin to Akkadians after 30 years when they lost their power as a result of extensive conquests (2820 BC).

Sixth member of the Amuri family, Hammurabi founded Babylonia and then moved to Upper Mesopotamia, annexing Mardin eventually. (2200-1925 BC)

Between 1925-800 BC, Mardin changed hands between Hittites, Midis of Ari people from around Iran, and Assyrians.

Mardin was captured by Kingdom of Urartu in 800 BC, and by the Sityani until 612 BC, and by Midis from Iran in 618 BC. Alexander the Great came to Mesopotamia after he conquered Egypt and occupied Mardin around 335 BC.

Mardin and its surroundings were annexed to Kingdom of Urfa (Abgars) in 131 BC.
It was brought under the domination of Roman Empire in 249 BC by Philippos, Emperor of Rome.
Daccios conquered Persia in 250 BC and in the meantime re-built Nisibis which was destroyed. Byzantines lived in Mardin until the occupation of Ilyas Bin Ganem, one of Caliph Omar's commanders, in 640.

Mardin and its surroundings came under the domination of Ummayads in 692 and Abbasids in 824. Islam rapidly spread in this era.

Having reigned in the area between 885-1089, Hamdanis, Mervanis, and Seljukians constructed market places and mosques in Mardin and its surroundings to commercially revive this important city located on Silk Road.

Il Gazi Bey of Artuqids conquered Mardin in 1105, making it the capital city eventually. Plenty of historical mosques, madrassahs, baths, and caravansaries were constructed and many mosques, madrassahs, and monasteries were rebuilt during the 304 year domination of this state.

In the beginning of the 16th century, Akkoyunlus came under the domination of Shah Ismail who managed to found a strong Shiah state. Ruler of Mardin delivered the castle's key to Shah Ismail without spilling blood in order to protect the people from cruelty and rape.

Definite capture of Mardin by Ottomans falls to the time of Yavuz Sultan Selim who organized the expedition of Egypt (1517).

Mardin became a province with the declaration of Republic of Turkey in 1923.

Strategic and Cultural Structure

Having hosted plenty of cultures and civilizations until now and still having an atmosphere of toleration and security that can set an example for the whole world with its multicultural lifestyle, Mardin is one of the poetic cities of Turkey which gives the impression that time has stopped with architectural, ethnographical, archaeological, historical, and visual values.

Mardin is Turkey's gate opening to Middle East and North Africa in commerce. It is located on Silk Road that was used as one of the most important routes in intercontinental commerce throughout the ages. Along with this strategic location, Mardin is a candidate city to enter UNESCO's list of the cultural inheritances. It also has an important place in religious tourism for it is considered a center by Christianity and Syriac Christians in particular and it contains important constructions forming the history of Syriac Christians.

Mardin contains mosques, sepulchers, churches, monasteries, and similar religious monuments with historical value in artistic terms in a parallel to various religious beliefs. Mardin center, Midyat center, Savur county center, and Dara ruins are officially registered as protected urban areas for their original constructions.

4 Languages, 3 Religions…

4 different languages; Arabic, Kurdish, Syriac, and our country's official language Turkish are spoken and 3 different religions; Islam, Christianity, and Yezidi are existing in Mardin. The fact that it displays the best example of living together in a multicultural society is one of the main reasons for Mardin and the region to play an important role both in Turkey and around the world. It is also shown as an important example in the name of peace in Middle East and the World.


Ancient Irrigation and Agriculture

The most important irrigation and agriculture activities of Mardin in the ancient era were practiced by the Sumerians. Farmers in Mesopotamia constructed channels to canalize the water of Euphrates river, consequently founding the first civilization of the world history based on irrigated farming.

Sumerians also were one of the most ancient civilizations that fell as a result of the negative impact of irrigated farming. They obtained lots of wheat and barley for 2000 years with the extra water coming from the rivers. However the salt and other substances left behind the evaporation piled up in time, making the land non-arable.

Many historians attributes the fall of this community to the lack of crops obtained from the saline soil.

As much as looking primitive when compared to today's agriculture, Sumerian agriculture was done with the most modern techniques of the time. Sumerians drained the marshes to make them arable, constructed irrigation channels, constructed primitive dams by building barriers to the streams in dry lands, and used wooden plow, one of the most important agricultural tools of human history.

The first dam of Mesopotamia

Located in 30 km southeast of Mardin and having existed under the domination of various civilizations throughout the ages, Dara, "Ephesus of Mesopotamia” gained a brand new face and different architectural touches with every civilization and kept these until today.

Dara is the city where the first dam and irrigation channels of Mesopotamia were constructed. The traces of channels that attract attention with its amazing array still remain where they are. Water cisterns and water tanks, as well as the remains of a system that can control the flow, ratio, or delay of water, pool hall and ditch indicate a water civilization.

Water cisterns, watermill, dam (barrage), mahsara, bridge, theater, church, market place, storage, arsenal, and 40 meters deep underground settlement (later used as dungeon) can still be visited.

Ancient city is known as the second important border city after Nisibis, Southeast metropolis of East Rome, in other words Byzantium. According to the sources, Silk Road, the heart of commerce, passed through the city. This transit commercial center was once the center of episcopacy; however disappeared after continuously repeated invasions.

Modern Irrigation and Agriculture: Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP)

Modern Turkey of our time aims at introducing modern irrigation technologies to these fertile plains that hosted ancient civilizations. So it put Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) into practice.

GAP is a regional development project handled with a sense of multi-sectorial, integrated and sustainable development with the main objective of raising the income level and life standard of people in Southeast Anatolia Region to remove the development difference between this region and other ones, and increase the employment opportunities to contribute to national development objectives such as social stability and economic growth.

Project contains Euphrates and Tigris reservoirs as well as 9 cities including MARDIN located on upper Mesopotamia plains. It is planned to construct 22 dams, 19 hydroelectric power stations, and irrigation channels to water 1.7 million hectares within the land and water resources development programme, consisting of two groups as Euphrates and Tigris Reservoir Projects, applied by General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works.

When the project is completed, 29% of Turkey's total water potential will be brought under control with the facilities on Euphrates and Tigris which flow more water than 52.9 billion cubic meters per year.  Planned total irrigation area is equivalent to 20% of Turkey's irrigable area in economic terms, and planned electric energy production is equivalent to 22% of total yearly electric energy.