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Thread: City planning for Iraq: Provisional Government in Baghdad

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    City planning for Iraq: Provisional Government in Baghdad

    Hello, I am currently working in Iraq as as a City Planner for the Provisional Government in Baghdad. A another planner and I would like to see the planning for Iraq go international, since many of the professionals have left Iraq. Any suggestions? Would like to rebuild Iraq a new using the best practices. Since the Hussein regime left and before that the planning has not been done. Iraq, is a beautiful country with a people who need help from the international community. Put down the signs and pick up the pen, APA and UK planning, please help. Lend us your minds. Thank you.

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    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    This sounds like a fascinating project.

    I have read that there is a Bagdad Masterplan designed by urban planner and architect Hisham N. Ashkouri. His firm have also done some work for Kabul: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Light_Development

    With regard to good practice, there is too much to take in in any case...

    I wish you luck.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by toddjtay View post
    Hello, I am currently working in Iraq as as a City Planner for the Provisional Government in Baghdad. A another planner and I would like to see the planning for Iraq go international, since many of the professionals have left Iraq. Any suggestions? Would like to rebuild Iraq a new using the best practices. Since the Hussein regime left and before that the planning has not been done. Iraq, is a beautiful country with a people who need help from the international community. Put down the signs and pick up the pen, APA and UK planning, please help. Lend us your minds. Thank you.

    Somehow, I'm thinking this is a hoax. If this is your first post and you're really in Iraq, why did you put your location as Everett, Washington? Plus, I can't see that city planning would be a major priority in Iraq right now. Convince me!
    ...my lifestyle determines my death style!
    - Metallica

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vagaplanner View post
    Somehow, I'm thinking this is a hoax. If this is your first post and you're really in Iraq, why did you put your location as Everett, Washington? Plus, I can't see that city planning would be a major priority in Iraq right now. Convince me!
    Moderator note:
    I won't violate our privacy policy by revealing personal information, but I will say that toddjtay is posting from an IP in Iraq. He's very legit.

    Also, if you do a bit of searching, you'll find previous posts on Cyburbia about planning jobs in Iraq that are offered by the State Department; we discussed whether we'd take on such a task or not. Many of us said no, but toddjtay bravely said "yes". Regardless of how we might individually feel about the war, we should salute him for doing a very dangerous job -- far more so than a zoning administrator in Lockenload County, Montana -- that will ultimately improve the quality of life for those in Iraq's cities and villages.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Start with the planning framework

    toddjtay, I have a couple of questions for you, in terms of the planning framework you've got there.
    I have worked a number of years in another near east country. There have been pretty good laws and regulations in place for planning, but there has never been a real nation-wide settlement policy - that is a policy on the national level, based on thorough analysis, that gives direction to individual city plans. Nor has there ever been a coherent urban policy. This is needed in Iraq because investment priorities must be made, both between infrastructural sectors and between towns.
    Is there an urban policy for Iraq?

    What is the basic planning system in Iraq? Do they use the Master Plan and detailed plan approach? In such a system, detailed plans reflect the master plan but set out all the rules for assessing development and building proposals, including public sector ones. It also means that the master plan is not enough. It's actually the detailed plans that get implemented.

    The other major difficulty I have faced is that there was never any deliberate attempt to link the physical plan to urban management, so it never became a tool of city managers. Beyond that, the plan was never designed within the framework of finances and human capacity available to implement the plan. The result was masses of thick documents and nice maps of plans...but nothing changed on the ground. This isn't helped by the fact that cities many many countries in the middle east have no or minimal finance of their own. They have extremely limited authority to raise finance and much of what they raise must be sent to the Central Government Treasury.
    Have you checked out the local government structure, the options fof financing the implementation of plans, and the urban management system itself? If not, look closely at capacity, and plan to build capacity in small steps. Ask hard questions of how, in practical terms, the plan is going to be implemented.

    Realising the local authorities couldn't implement plans, we felt we must have other local actors involved who might be able to participate more directly. In the past two years we have begun an entirely new approach in which we have worked very much with local authorities, local business people and civic society. We held numerous workshops, applying "appreciative inquiry" approaches, similar to the Assets Based Community Development approach. Start with Assets (all kinds, especially social networks), ask what you can build on these assets and through them build a vision. Once you have a vision, unpack it into a number of long term goals. Then ask, "what are the preconditions, what are the constraints, what are the hindrances, in the way to achieving the long term goals?" From there we prioritised and strategised and came up with a lot of ideas of what people can do themselves, what they need some help with, what they need government to do on their own.

    This approach avoids wallowing in "problems" that do nothing but end up in blame games and feeling impotent and powerless. It looks for what's working (yes something actually do work locally in Iraq!) and seeks to build on these - creating a hope, building self-confidence and self-reliance. I would guess those are very important in Iraq just now. In our case, the three parties were actually doing stuff on the streets before the plan was finished, and the general atmosphere was amazing. The relationship between civic society and local government went from total suspicion and mistrust, to one of cooperation and a willingness to listen to one another. I do believe participatory planning can contribute to the building of bridges between communities. But for all your community gatherings, you're going to have to be careful with security. In fact, one question I have is, will the authorities allow you to practice participatory approaches?

    In your case, planning is going to have to be really practical and visible, otherwise people will soon lose faith.

    Sitting here writing makes me think of dozens of additional questions...but the post is getting too big. I applaud you for what you're doing, and I sincerely hope you're not wasting your time.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Wow, if Dan feels this post is legit, I think we have more questions for you than you for us??

    Do they even have public facilites for everyone yet? Water, sewer, electric, etc....??

    how did you end up over there? How much are they paying

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Cyburbians: if there's an on-topic thread you should be posting in, this is the one.

    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Wow, if Dan feels this post is legit, I think we have more questions for you than you for us??
    Same thing here: I had a post thought out which includes lots of questions, ane answers to which might help us out in guiding toddjtay.

    * Did Iraq have a planning system in place when Saddam Hussein was in power? If so, was it flawed in any way?

    * If there was planning before the occupation, was it administered on a mostly local level (US, Canada) or was the system highly centralized (UK)? Given Iraqi culture, what do you think would be most workable? How about Kurdish culture?

    * How is land use now regulated? Do communities have a master plan and a zoning scheme? Something else? Can the system be easily corrupted through bribery or threats? In the US, the worst thing that can happen is that Bubba will threaten to use his "connections" to fire you if something doesn't go his way. In Iraq, I imagine the implications of telling the wrong people "no" would be far worse.

    * Are there any other models in the region to follow? There are a LOT of Iranians on Cyburbia that could offer advice, but unfortunately most stay silent. I know relations between the US and Iran is rocky, but perhaps one way to being the two countries together is through exchanging ideas in planning. Iranians are generally friendly, intelligent and generous people. Say the word, and I'll send out an email to the Iranian Cyburbians.

    * Iraq used to be a secular state, but are some Islamic principles of planning and public space being considered? There are elements of urban design that are uniquely Islamic; for instance, privacy walls surrounding houses instead of the open yards encouraged in developed English speaking countries - they offer protection to women on the property, and an environment where they can get some relief from modesty laws. Embrace the concept of the haram.

    * Creating defensible space - probably of primary importance now. However, defensible space can also be miserable space; wide open plazas and vistas that would stifle pedestrian traffic and create a cold "third place" that seems contrary to the Middle Eastern concepts of the commons - busy streets, markets and souks. How can you create defensible space that won't harm a vibrant third place?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
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    Infrastructure

    What is the state of the infrastructure. I know travel is diffcult with the security situation, but what is left of the rail/road network and what shape is it in?

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    Iraq planning

    how difficult is it to get a urban planning job with the state department in iraq? Am applying right now and submitted my resume yesterday. They require a masters or bachelors with experience?

    Thanks

    J.C.

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    Need Planning Info in Baghdad

    Give me a e-mail / call, we need to identify and contact Urban Planners around Baghdad for a project we want to execute.

    We have two Iraqi ex-pats working with us to assit us with this project, which will involve housing.

    DSN 318-483-2475

    gregory.kniesler@iraq.centcom.mil

    Thanks.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Army Guy View post
    Give me a e-mail / call, we need to identify and contact Urban Planners around Baghdad for a project we want to execute.
    Run! The army wants to execute the Urban Planners!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Quote Originally posted by vagaplanner View post
    Somehow, I'm thinking this is a hoax. If this is your first post and you're really in Iraq, why did you put your location as Everett, Washington? Plus, I can't see that city planning would be a major priority in Iraq right now. Convince me!
    There are several planners in Iraq. I am at Camp Taji embeded with the 82 ABN. We have an area of responsibility in the north and east of Baghdad. part of our AOR is Sadr City. We fly everywhere we go. heve multipul meetings a we with local sheiks and we have an Iraqi planner working in out ePRT. I have been a posting member on Cyburbia for a couple of years under the names of New World Planner and Planicifador Urbano and I am from Boyne City Michigan. We have about a months worth of training at the Foreign Service Institute in DC which includes weapons training and a driving school at the Bill Scott Raceway in VA..... same place the FBI and CIA completes their driving training. Land Use planning here is at the very basic level. Its hard to get out sometimes because the bad guys still want to kill us. But the good guys do want to make the country a better place.

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I'd also be curious about land tenure and property rights as well as the cultural connection to land and place.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    Cyburbian
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    Do the planners in Iraq need things, like supplies or books? The Village I work for is always putting together packages and things for soldiers. What could we do to help you "do planning" in Iraq?

    I'm interested in all the previously submitted questions, as well!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by b3nr View post
    I have read that there is a Bagdad Masterplan designed by urban planner and architect Hisham N. Ashkouri. His firm have also done some work for Kabul: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Light_Development
    On Mr. Ashkouri's firm's web site, he lists his major project and lists one as "Baghdad Renaissance Plan", which is a privately-funded plan for downtown Baghdad's riverfront area. http://www.arcadd.com/baghdad-cbd.htm

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Moderator note:

    Also, if you do a bit of searching, you'll find previous posts on Cyburbia about planning jobs in Iraq that are offered by the State Department; we discussed whether we'd take on such a task or not. Many of us said no, but toddjtay bravely said "yes". Regardless of how we might individually feel about the war, we should salute him for doing a very dangerous job -- far more so than a zoning administrator in Lockenload County, Montana -- that will ultimately improve the quality of life for those in Iraq's cities and villages.
    Those of us in Lockenload County salute your efforts.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  18. #18

    Iraq community planning

    toddjtay or others:
    Do the planning efforts in iraq include any community planning and/or visioning efforts? I do a lot of work with citizen engagement techniques, community visioning, consensus building, and social capital. I don't know much about using these techniques in places like Iraq, but I would be very interested to hear more about what's going on there and am happy to offer help/suggestions if I can.

    -RS

  19. #19
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I've just come across this thread--am very interested in the work you are doing abroad.

    I would think that items such as water conservation should probably play a large role.

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    FORECAST

    I THINK IN THIRED WORLD COUNTRIES SUCH AS IRAQ FORECASTING POPULATION CORRECTLY IS VERY DIFFICULT AND ALWAYS FORCASTINGS IS FAR FROM REALITY.

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