What's been going on for the past summer
Ok, this post (and the following ones) is an attempt to catch up on all the posting I should have been doing over the summer ... so it will be kind of a catch all of all my activities over the past few months. But first I want to start with a little side note. At the beginning of the year, the Iraqi Ministry of Environment published (with I believe World Health Organization (WHO) support ... atleast their logo is on it) a 2006 Calendar. Interestingly enough, the photos are all of the marshes ... that area were my organization does most of it works. But was was most interesting was the image for February 2006 (included below).
This image is of a fisherman on his boat at dusk elector-shocking fish ... an unsustainable method of fishing that is being practiced in the marshes since their reflooding. I recently talked to an MoE staff employee about the image and she just shook her head in sadness. Apparently the calendar didn't get alot of review before it was released.
Our work continues and I've been able to travel to northern Iraq for several meetings to discuss water resource and environment agreements with several Ministries. The following two images come from a summer meeting we had in Sulimaniyah.
The above image gives you a little flavor of what Sulimaniyah looks like ... I saw the town in the summer of 2004 (when the Pesh Merga looked at the Baghdad plates on our parked car and decided that they wanted to tow it away and search it "with extreme prejudice" for explosives ... we had to raise some money to help the driver pay for some of the repair work on the car). As I might work in the future from Sulimaniyah, I was curious to see the town again, which was hot and dry (as the hills in this image show, but has a brand new airport and alot of building activity).
It is noteworthy that the Kurdish regions of Iraq are always trying to stress their differences and independence for the rest of the country. Kurdistan is trying to develop its own independent oil industry (something that has pissed off the central government and given rule to the arguement that the south might quickly follow suit ... resulting, so it is postulated by some, in the break-up of the country.) Another example, but perhaps one that is more amusing to the staff in our office, is the recent report I found in the Iraqi Press Monitor for 19 September 2006
IRAQI KURDISTAN TO OUTLAW POLYGAMY
(Awene) The Iraqi Kurdistan government has submitted a draft law to the Kurdish parliament banning polygamy. If it is ratified by parliament, men who marry more than one woman face three years in prison and a 1,400 US dollar fine. The law doesn't apply to men whose wives have a long-term illness, are infertile or whose wives left them more than two years ago. The Islamic slate in the Kurdish parliament is opposed to the law. (Awene is a Sulaimaniyah-based independent newspaper issued weekly by the Awene Company)
Why should we find this amusing? Well, one of our staff members recently (and probably secretly ... atleast to his first wife and family) married a research assistant in the office less than half his age. He might be in trouble in the Kurdish north.