Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, April 09, 2007

Iraqi Kurdistan

I moved to Kurdistan in February to open our new office here. It's been a crazy time and I've had either no time or no internet connection to post. Our first major work here has been to conduct a biodiversity survey of the three Kurdish governorates (Sulaymaniyah, Erbil & Dohuk). It was more of a pre-survey ... since we are new here and need to learn the lay of the land. We also had to be very careful to involve Kurdish University and Ministry staff along the way. We really are the guest here and as an essentially Arab organization, not everyone is that happy to see us working here.

I was able to go on a few of the survey trips and Kurdistan really has some stunningly beautiful areas but plenty of environmental problems as well. They burn trash (often including plastic) everywhere and here in this city there are two cement factories (as I say, making the world safe for impervious surfaces) and they are pumping out all kinds of crap ... one is actually right in the city. Every river has, atleast somewhere along its course, been turned into a gravel mine and people like to come down to wash their cars and trucks in the river beds. There is almost no protection of the beautiful sites of Kurdistan (of which there are many), which have been over developed and in many cases spoiled. Dumping occurs everywhere, including around peoples homes and no one seems to be bothered by this. Sewage goes right into the rivers, etc ... anyway it's a long and sorry list.

People in the West should have a healthy appreciation for all the work that has been done to improve and keep the environment clean & healthy ... they complain or make fun of environmentalists but they have just never seen how bad it can get. Here, after so many wars and unrest (on a drive around this city our office manager points out areas where he knew people who were shot and near by our office is a big park, formerly an Iraqi Military base and a major site for the killing and torture of Kurds), the Kurds are just getting started on the long road to recovery.


Post a Comment

<< Home