The Compass Edge

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thecompassedge.net is a web project maintained by Brian Jones to log his and others' experiences while traveling to and working in regions off the standard travel map.


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To contact Brian write to brian@thecompassedge.net


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there are plenty more photos on this site. please browse the archives
  • August 2004
  • May 2004
  • April 2004
  • February 2004
  • December 2003
  • November 2003
  • October 2003
  • January 2003
  • December 2002
  • November 2002
  • July 2002
  • June 2002
  • An invitation to lunch

    Posted by Brian Jones, Thursday, October 16, 2003

    feasting (78k image)

    I was invited for lunch and turned up expecting a to have a bit of rice and okra stew. Instead I was brought into the mudhif , which is a guest hall traditionally built from reeds (see pictures in Wilfred Thesigers 'The Marsh Arabs'). After sitting down and drinking lots of tea with a range of men from the area, people started arriving with vast trays groaning under the weight of delicacies of various kinds. I was told, apoligetically, that they hadnt had time to prepare something really special but hoped that I wouldnt mind!!

    Needless to say the food tasted fantastic and I had to be carried out to the car afterwards.

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    Unexploded bomb

    Posted by Brian Jones, Thursday, October 16, 2003

    UXOinvillage (88k image)

    This is sadly an all too common finding in areas around towns and cities. The thing in the photo is some form of unexploded ordinance, probably a cluster munition of some type. I was pulled over to see it by a group of boys who proceeded to prod it with sticks. In the same village 3 weeks before a boy had found something similar and thrown it at 3 of his friends killing one of them and blowing the hands of the other two off. They're very dangerous things.

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    Clean water?

    Posted by Brian Jones, Thursday, October 16, 2003

    waterandsewage (74k image)

    This was a scene in one of the typical residential zones of Nassariyeh, southern Iraq. The woman is collecting water and doing some washing. The problem, as you may notice, is that there is a drain of fetid raw sewage right next to her. The difficulty is that she really doesnt have any choice in the matter. If you want water, then this is where you get it.

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    The marshes of southern Iraq

    Posted by Brian Jones, Thursday, October 16, 2003

    southernmarshes (60k image)

    Some 10-15 years ago the southern regions of Iraq had abundant marshes stretching out for many thousands of square kilometeres. In about 1993 an executive decision was made to drain the marshes and turn the land into productive arable land. The original planning for the drainage was done by nice British engineers back in the 1930's and 40's and Saddam often pointed to these plans as proof that it was not him who dreamed up the scheme.

    After years of dry aridity, the marshes are finally being reflooded although its not really obvious to what extent this is the result of official intervention and to what extent it's a result of locals opening up flood gates and redirecting drainage canals. The photo shows a vast area of land that has only recently been reflooded and the despite the area flooded the depth of water is only a meter or so. However, it's amazing to see how quickly people are getting out old boats and dusting off their fishing nets and becoming 'marsh arabs' again.

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    Water collection in Iraq

    Posted by Brian Jones, Thursday, October 16, 2003

    watercollection (82k image)

    This is a typical scene in urban Iraq these days. The water system is largely in collapse and so people go out into the street and dig down until they find a water main and tap into it. The problem is that the sewage system is also in collapse so there is often raw sewage floating around the points where people collect water. It's a disaster waiting to happen.

    This boy goes with his bucket 4 times a day to get water to bring back to his family and every couple of weeks, well meaning people from some ministry or other come and fill the hole back in. The people in the neighbourhood patiently re-excavate and carry on as before.

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    Rocket hole in wardrobe

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    rockethole (35k image)

    There are signs of war everywhere from the large burned out carcasses of tanks to the shallow pits roofed with corrogated iron and soil that acted for many as improvised air rade shelters.

    In one house the owner showed me into the main bedroom and swung open the door of their wardrobe to reveal this hole that had been punched through by some sort of rocket. The rocket didnt explode. Abu Mousa, his wife, six children, mother and brother's family were all huddled in the room at the time and I was just happy that I was looking at an unsightly memento of the war and not the site of a family catastrophe.

    The rest of the village turned up equally chilling evidence of war and many did not have such happy endings. It was difficult to know why this particular village, consisting of a sprawl of mud brick houses and animal sheds, should receive such heavy damage, but it seems that it was unfortunate to be on the outskirts of Nassariyeh in the path of the advance American tank column.

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    Children smile

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    childrensmile (81k image)

    It doesnt seem to matter where you go children are the same. They love to smile and they love to be photographed. The difficulty is getting photos WITHOUT smiling children in them :-) These guys led me around and patiently answered the most stupid of my questions. I asked them what they wanted to be and they all wanted to be doctors or lawyers. When I asked them what they DIDNT want to be they said farmers.

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    Boy with tongue

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    childatwindow (83k image)

    This is Ahmed whose knowledge of the English premiership was extraodinarily good :-) He loves David Beckham but I didnt hold it against him. He wants to be a doctor.

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    Iraqi woman and her bread oven

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    breadmaking (86k image)

    Bread is eaten every day in Iraq. In cities people either buy it directly from bakers or mix their own dough and take it to the baker for cooking. In the villages you have to make your own bread every day. People use the tanour, the traditional bread oven, to make their bread. It's fired up with dried cow dung called Mutaal and the dough is slapped between the hands until it becomes a wide round flat pancake before being slapped onto the inside wall of the tanour where it's cooked. It's incredibly good and there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh bread anywhere but particularly here.

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    Me and a mother

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    brianandmother (80k image)

    Now I really am just playing. I can upload images. This is one of me and my mother (bless her) :-) Taken about a week ago. She's the one on the left by the way.

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    Dom

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    Dominic (81k image)

    This is a view (a test really) of Dom.....oh and a tree but it's Dom who's the intended subject

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    Britain

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    It's strange but I've been back in the UK for about 2 months now and am not totally sure where the time has gone to. I had a couple of weeks holiday followed by a stint in the Humanitarian Department preparing for an internal meeting of the food and nutrition department. I then wrote up the meeting and headed off to Italy for another meeting, in the process missing yet another meeting. I returned, full of pasta and pearls of wisdom on the analysis of complexity in 'Complex Emergencies' and Food Security, and did some advisory cover for South Asia.

    Now I've just learned that I'm off again, this time to Ethiopia. I'll be going to the south of the country to an area that is currently suffering a 'green famine' and I'll do a nutrition survey. It's strange because Ethiopia has a big presence in the emergency nutrition world being the place where many of the techniques used now were developed.

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    Iraq

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    The US and the UK attacked Iraq whilst I was still in Sudan and I spent a week holed up in a hotel in Khartoum whilst various violent protests took place in the city. I viewed the attack with the horror and incredulity that most sane individuals did and so it was strange to be told that I was being deployed there in May.

    The idea was that the organisation was doing a water and sanitation reponse but that the issue of livelihoods (which is what the crux of what I do) had been highlighted as critical and needing further work. I was sent to do a livelihood survey in the south of the country and found that the the impending humanitarian disaster that everyone had feared was going to occur, had NOT occured. There were very profound needs but the critical point was that the needs were chronic in nature. They were the result of years of sanctions and a number of wars (8 years of Iran-Iraq war) that had systematically destroyed infrastructure and people's ability to eke out what could be deemed an adequate living.

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    North Sudan

    Posted by Brian Jones, Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    Sudan: huge, beautiful, contradictory, infinitely varied and distinctly complex, is an extraordinary place. I was deployed to Red Sea State (RSS), in the north east, from November 2002 until April 2003 in response to a developing drought induced emergency and more specifically a nutrition survey that indicated a prevalence of malnutrition far above what are considered emergency thresholds. The deployment was start the organisations response to what was seen as being a big emergency. The expectations were that I would write a proposal for the establishment of a Supplementary Feeding Programme and get it started. Well, things never quite work out as you expect........

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