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Uzbekistan Associated Gas CDM Project

The World Bank is considering providing assistance to Uzbekneftegas for utilization of oil gas at four oil deposits under CDM mechanism. Huckbody Environmental has been commissioned by World Bank to provide the safeguards component for the project, which involves travel to Karshi in Southern Uzbekistan to carry out a site visit of the project facilities (including associated gas fields and the pipeline corridor).
How Karshi got its name
Many years ago there was a beautiful village called Nasaf. It was not a big town, it only had a castle and a king named Mahmut Ratshah. He lived with his family, and they were very happy. But one day the army of Ruzakovski came, and they wanted to take the castle of Nasaf. But the castle of Nasaf and its people were very strong, and they could not take it. The next day an even bigger army came, which was over one thousand strong.
They fought for three days and three nights, but still they could not subdue the castle. Then Ruzokovski announced. “This castle is against us. I will give it the name “Karshi”, which in the Uzbek language means against.
Long ago Karshi had many names, for example Nasaf and Behbudiy. Some people say there were seven names. Karshi is in the desert, and many people said that Karshi is Chorsu, which means in Tajik “Four waters”.

Karshi

Karshi


Samarkand

Samarkand

Old City Baku

Old City or Inner City is the ancient historical core of Baku. In December 2000, the Old City of Baku, including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower, became the first location in Azerbaijan to be classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.




Old streets being excavated for infrastructure improvements

Old streets being excavated for infrastructure improvements

Kura river basin

Driving across Azerbaijan last week it is clear that it is a country of contrasting landscapes. The massively oil-polluted Absheron peninsula gives way to semi-desert through the centre, before one reaches the high mountains fringing Russia that were beautifully snow-capped. Here the nature is wild with large trees of beech, oak and chestnut. Eagles soar above the trees and all is good with the world. Azerbaijan is starting to develop tourist facilities, such as the new hotel we stayed in alongside the Kura River.

Kura central Azerbaijan

Kura central Azerbaijan

They have even constructed an enclosure into which you can fish – and then have the catch cooked. Surprisingly the Kura looks inviting and light green form the underwater weed growing in its shallows. I observed a rather unusual form of night fishing by two young locals. They used 3 treble hooks centrally mounted on the rig……….very strange….. until they explained that they are trying to literally hook fish that have been stunned by the turbines of the hydropower facility upstream.
The Kura and its basin has and continues to have much international interest – financed by several organisations, particularly EU. One of my earlier projects saw me training Ministries of Environment of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – towards river basin management. I was also an official delegate for the OSCE from Armenia to Azerbaijan many years ago – where the OSCE were trying to use international water management as a vehicle for cooperation in the hugely disputed regional conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
caspian Sea

caspian Sea


Now another large project is ongoing – managed by a good friend of mine, with whom I used to work – see below:
Kura delta

Kura delta


To improve water quality in the Kura River basin through transboundary cooperation and adoption of the river basin management approach.
Project Purposes: Support development of a common monitoring and information management systems to improve transboundary cooperation in the Kura River basin; and Enhance capacities of environmental authorities and monitoring establishments engaged in long-term integrated water resources management in the Kura River basin.
The outputs from this project will come from the combined efforts of the key and non-key experts and the beneficiaries. The intended outputs have been discussed and agreed with the Project Partners during the Inception Phase, these are given below:
•Review on the baseline situation based on the data available
•Joint monitoring programme designed and agreed with the beneficiaries
•Report on the Joint river monitoring/surveys carried out in the selected locations
•Assistance provided to the national water monitoring establishments where appropriate to help to address the key concerns
•Common GIS database platform established to facilitate information management and data exchange between the project countries
•Draft basin management plans (RBMP), including tentative programme of measures, prepared for the selected pilot river basins in each project country using the EU Water Framework Directive methodology
•A proposal developed for improvements in the data structures, formats and information flows to facilitate decision making in the integrated water resources management
•Proposals developed for the future international projects to help to address priority IWRM problems in the project countries
•Beneficiary staff trained where appropriate including provision of necessary guidelines in Armenian, Georgian and Azeri languages
•Increased public awareness regarding the significant transboundary water issues in the Kura River basin
The key areas of effort are the five main project components as follows:
•Component 1: Assessments and Surveys
•Component 2: Monitoring
•Component 3: Management Information and Methodology
•Component 4: Institutional Capacity and Training
•Component 5: Public Engagement and Civil Society
Various types of wetland and delta areas can be found on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The northern section of this immense lake is encompassed by the Caspian Depression, a low-lying flatland region.
The depression, which covers approximately 200,000 kilometers² (77,220 miles²), lies at the southern end of the Ryn Desert, and is in both Kazakhstan and Russia.
The Volga River and the Ural River, which forms part of the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia, flow into the Caspian Sea through this region. The deltas of the Ural and Volga Rivers are extensive wetlands.
The fan-shaped Volga River Delta has, unfortunately, experienced significant wetland loss due to industrial and agricultural modification to the delta plain. Much of the water in and around the delta appears bright green due to algal blooms, intensified by fertilizers carried in by the river
Kura River and wetlands
In fact, studies have shown that water pollution, mostly coming from the Volga River, poses a serious threat to the biodiversity of the Caspian Depression. Water pollution is contributed mainly by industrial, agricultural, and household discharges.
The Ural River Delta in Kazakhstan has a different shape from that of the Volga: rather than a wide triangular or fan-shape, it is longer and thinner. This is called a “bird’s foot” or “digitate” delta. Such deltas are often seen on sediment-rich rivers flowing into lakes.
Much of the Caspian Depression is below the level of the sea; its lowest point is 28m (92 ft) below sea level. Its eastern region comprises large areas of marshlands. One such marshy area in western Kazakhstan is the location of the Tengiz Field, a huge source of oil.
On the western shore of the Caspian Sea, in Azerbaija, the Kura River enters the sea, discharging sediments. Onland, the dark green area in the center near the coast is swampy Gyzylaghadj State Reserve. Also called the Gizil-Agach State Reserve, it is a Ramsar Wetland that is an important wintering and nesting area for migrant, swamp and wild birds.
Kura in Georgia

Kura in Georgia


Throughout the central and western area many people sell fish at the roadsides, caught from netting the massive irrigation canals.
Roadside fish sellers

Roadside fish sellers

Baku Port

Each morning I watch the dawn break over the Caspian Sea through the heavy dirt on the hotel window. The cranes of the port appear gradually against the pale skyline, as the sun slowly rises.
Baku International Sea Trade Port was founded in 1902 and since it has always been the largest and the most important of Caspian Sea ports.

Sun rise over Baku port

Sun rise over Baku port

From a couple of modest wooden jetties and a handful of dockers in its first days the port has been constantly developing over the century and now plays an important role in trans – Caspian trade and is the main marine gateway to Azerbaijan.

The port operates year-round and as a vital transit point in Europe-Asia trade that is being promoted within TRACECA – RESTORATION OF THE HISTORIC SILK ROUTE project.

From April to November when Russian inner waterways are navigable Baku International Sea Trade Port is accessible by ships loading cargoes for direct voyages from West European and Mediterranean ports.
With the dramatic increase in trans-Caspian oil trade volumes and enormous import to Azerbaijan various equipment for offshore oil activities over last decade the port has further strengthened its importance.
Services rendered to the users of the port include:
Dry cargo and liquid bulk handling
General and project cargoes
Container handler (stuffing/stripping)
Warehousing and storage
The Baku International Sea Trade Port is comprised of Main Cargo Terminal, Dubendy Oil Terminal, Ferry Terminal and Passenger Terminal. The port`s throughput capacity has been constantly growing and reaches up to 15 million tons of liquid bulk and up to 10 million tons of dry cargoes.

Due to its modern facilities and year-round accessibility the port maintains its competitiveness and is widely used by international traders.

Scaffolding

The description below is pretty much what I recall from my NEBOSH construction H&S course – the manual never reached Azerbaijan – love the groovy curves, there is always something natural and flowing about man-made scaffold from wood or bamboo. Having said that I have watched guys all over the world perching and squatting on the boards or transoms; there are guys all over the facelift Baku doing just that.
The key elements of a scaffold are standards, ledgers and transoms. The standards, also called uprights, are the vertical tubes that transfer the entire mass of the structure to the ground where they rest on a square base plate to spread the load. The base plate has a shank in its centre to hold the tube and is sometimes pinned to a sole board. Ledgers are horizontal tubes which connect between the standards. Transoms rest upon the ledgers at right angles. Main transoms are placed next to the standards, they hold the standards in place and provide support for boards; intermediate transoms are those placed between the main transoms to provide extra support for boards. In Canada this style is referred to as “English”. “American” has the transoms attached to the standards and is used less but has certain advantages in some situations. Since scaffolding is a physical structure, it is possible to go in and come out of scaffolding.
As well as the tubes at right angles there are cross braces to increase rigidity, these are placed diagonally from ledger to ledger, next to the standards to which they are fitted. If the braces are fitted to the ledgers they are called ledger braces. To limit sway a facade brace is fitted to the face of the scaffold every 30 metres or so at an angle of 35°-55° running right from the base to the top of the scaffold and fixed at every level.

Flowing scaffold

Flowing scaffold

Baku Azerbaijan

It’s been five years since I was in Baku, where I had a base for 1.5 years. My new hotel is literally a stone’s throw from the old place. Things have changed to some extent over the past five years, mainly new high rise apartment blocks and a seemingly city-wide face lift, even Fountain’s Square and the sea front are under renovation. Countries like Azerbaijan don’t appear to be following many other ‘developed’ cities by installing cycle paths or other green measures, and their choice of construction materials is still influenced by the brash-design-catalogue, as I refer to it. Hence there are a whole range of paving and kerb materials, from concrete and ornamental cut stone, to long lengths of marble!
Unfortunately the car is still very much king here, with drivers racing flat out between the inevitable red light at the next block in this grid designed city. They are generally oblivious to pedestrians and like so many other countries, the zebra crossing simply represents a location where the pedestrians are more concentrated, rather than a safe place for those on foot to cross.
Being nostalgic, it is nice to see that black is still the colour of choice for clothing, especially amongst males, where any bright colour would stand out a mile.
Walking the city it appears to my ears that there is definitely less Russian language being spoken and a lot more Azeri, which is nice to ‘see’.
Baku seems to be well on the road towards economic development and eventual prosperity, with the oil revenues etc, but harsh conditions still see the ‘old’ innovative ways of making money, like the guy with a set of weighing scales in the heart of the city, where you pay to weigh yourself; the ladies selling lemons and limes; the shoe shine stools; the guys with polishing or welding gear all congregating in the same street to pick up work etc.
Walked along the sea front, that if you squinted very hard has some similarity with the cornice of Doha, where I spent many months this year. But the differences are striking; the tourist dhows and million dollar motor cruisers of Qatar give way to battered ex-Russian ships and oil infrastructure and the yacht club is a million miles from that of Doha for sure.

Nicely lit building

Nicely lit building

The rig fountain near Dom Soviet

The rig fountain near Dom Soviet

The famous Maiden's Tower - 12th Century or earlier

The famous Maiden's Tower - 12th Century or earlier

Fontain Square statues

Fontain Square statues

Warsaw, Poland

15 years since I last visited Warsaw. The city has changed dramatically and is now a vibrant, modern city with extensive shopping centres and boutiques, modernised trolley buses (trams) and metro, with more extensions planned; unfortunately traffic is very heavy. It was nice to take a walk down to the old centre and the city walls, where I went all those years ago. The area is very pleasant with many fine restaurants and beer houses.

Can't seem to lose weight, despite these light snacks...

Can't seem to lose weight, despite these light snacks...


Palace of culture, permanent land mark.

Palace of culture, permanent land mark.


Old city

Old city

Old Town Market Square

Old Town Market Square

Green Investment Schemes Poland

Huckbody Environmental has been commissioned by the World Bank to advise on safeguard issues for the green Investment Scheme in Poland.
International Emissions Trading (IET) is a mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol (KP) that allows Annex B (industrialized) countries to sell their surplus emission allowances (or Assigned Amount Units; AAUs) to other Annex B countries that are not able to meet their Kyoto commitments. Potential AAU buyers have indicated that support from their domestic constituencies for buying surplus AAUs could be secured only if the proceeds from IET transactions are used for projects or programs that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or have other tangible environmental benefits. Therefore some EITs have proposed establishing a Green Investment Scheme (GIS) to satisfy potential buyers’ concerns that AAU proceeds be channeled to projects and programs that yield environmental benefits.

Poland has considerable amount of surplus AAUs and intends to sell about 100 million AAUs during the current Kyoto commitment period using GIS. The funds from the sale of AAUs would directly or indirectly result in emission reductions and would be used for investments a large-scale program to improve thermal insulation in houses and offices, and also to replace coal-and oil-fired boilers with new biomass units. The GIS priority sectors would include: (i) Biomass-fired power plants; (ii) Energy efficiency in district heating and co-generation; (iii) Energy management in public buildings; (iv) Agricultural biogas plants; and (v) Upgrading electricity grid for connecting renewable energy sources.

Shisha Water Pipe Hookah

My many months in Cairo, Egypt last year were spent unavoidably inhaling the aromas and fruit tobacco of the shisha, which seemed to be everywhere, from local cafes, restaurants and dozens around the pool in the Four Seasons Hotel where I lived.
Since they re-developed the Souk area in Doha (looked like something out of Indiana Jones when I first knew it), the outside cafes are numerous and shisha is available in virtually all of them. One of the alleys is used to store the shishas in advance of them being ordered – reminded me of little soldiers waiting to go into battle.

Soldier pipes waiting for action

Soldier pipes waiting for action

For hundreds of years, Middle Eastern people have flocked to this exotic water pipe — more popularly known as shisha or hookah — to smoke fruit-flavored tobacco, talk and watch the world pass by.
This deep-rooted cultural practice of smoking shisha has now become an almost integral part of the Arabs — social life and their culture and is rapidly growing in popularity all over the world.
It began hundreds of years before the invasion of the big American cigarette companies and is one of the most common and interesting lifestyles of the Arab world. Some say it originated in Turkey over 500 years ago, some say it originated in Syria, others claim it originated in India.
Undoubtedly, shisha is among the most instantly recognizable symbols of popular Arab culture and the ever-growing demand from locals, residents and tourists bears ample testimony to the modern-day appeal of the ancient water pipe.
It is now a thriving — and, apparently, extremely lucrative — shisha culture. The number of shisha outlets mushrooming in the Arab world is, indeed, remarkable and, is a clear indication of the profitability of such outlets.

Pipes for sale - a popular tourist souvenir

Pipes for sale - a popular tourist souvenir



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Travel

Almaty Kazakhstan Alms

Going through my photos, came across this one outside a mosque in Almaty Kazakhstan. The ladies were all asking for alms I guess. I thought I had sneaked this photo with my phone, but they simultaneously covered their faces – makes for a funny photo I think.

Collecting Alms Incognito

Collecting Alms Incognito

Doha Qatar

My few weeks out of Qatar, two of them in Tajikistan, remind me on my return of the ever changing scenery of Doha on its march skywards. During my first visits here in 92, driving around was easy going, but the traffic has got a whole lot worse, to the point of grid lock during rush hours. The roads department is busy trimming several roundabouts and widening slip ways etc to try to ease congestion at several key junctions. Meanwhile the road construction of major routes continues, along with large residential developments; I can’t help wondering how all these will be filled.
The land of contrast continues, evident in housing, standards of living and car-pedestrian interface. I noticed that in Tajikistan the vast majority of drivers will actively stop to allow you to cross the road, even when you are not actually expecting it. Here it’s another story; they largely drive with total disregard to pedestrians, especially those in the ubiquitous land cruisers…

View from my flat, West Bay in the distance

View from my flat, West Bay in the distance

Tajikistan travelling

The countryside is characterised by being very hilly, with mountainous areas towards the Pamirs being spectacular. Most of the country’s roads are in good shape, until you get to the higher ground, then its dirt tracks all the way.
The people are colourful and generally very friendly. Traditional houses are mud-brick (mud and chopped straw), with yurts in the high mountains. The village children are very friendly and a bit curious towards obvious foreigners.

Young eagle taken from the nest as a pet

Young eagle taken from the nest as a pet

Mud-brick constructions in resettled villages

Mud-brick constructions in resettled villages


Nurek hydropower dam; a power station of national importance to Tajikistan; part of the hydropower facilities on the Vaksh cascade, with the ongoing Rogun being the largest.

Nurek hydropower dam; a power station of national importance to Tajikistan; part of the hydropower facilities on the Vaksh cascade, with the ongoing Rogun being the largest.


Hand washing facilities

Hand washing facilities


Friendly village kids - no Nintendo Wii here

Friendly village kids - no Nintendo Wii here


Resettled folk taking it all in

Resettled folk taking it all in


Beware of other road users - without wheels

Beware of other road users - without wheels

Dushanbe sights

There are some nice sights to see in the city and it is very easy to get around. There is little hassle from the corrupt policemen on the streets (I have experienced far worse ‘passport checkers’; eg Kazakhstan); but try to blend in, otherwise they will seek you out; even I had to fend a couple off. Be careful at monuments as police routinely try to extort money from you for ‘permission’ to take photos; mind you they are in cahoots with the ‘official’ photographers – guys with cameras from whom you buy your tourist photo. The same system as in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan.
The main street Rudake is pleasant; not too much to buy in the shops, but a few small shops and the Tsum mean that there is enough, including tourist souvenirs etc. A short distance down is a very nice monument and not far is the Formal function palace – can’t recall its name; it was built to host official functions at a reputed cost of ca. $300 million.

Fruits are fantastic in Tajikistan

Fruits are fantastic in Tajikistan

Function palace

Function palace

Nuts anyone?

Nuts anyone?

Monument on Rudake

Monument on Rudake

Colourful market on Ishmail Somoni

Colourful market on Ishmail Somoni