iMMAP team provides consultant to mine center in Afghanistan

from Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation
Published on 02 May 2006
Washington, D.C., May 2, 2006 -- The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation's (VVAF) Information Management & Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) will begin providing humanitarian technical assistance to the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA) this month, in Kabul, Afghanistan. This project is funded by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

UNMACA centrally manages and coordinates funding, field staff, mine detecting dog training, technical assistance, and quality assurance activities in support of all mine action activities in Afghanistan. Although coordinated by UNMACA, all operations are managed through regionally located AMAC offices and sub-offices in the field.

In 2002 UNMACA migrated their information system to the United Nations system of choice -- the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). Now in its fourth version, IMSMA has become the standard in mine action information management throughout the world.

iMMAP's work for UNMAC is invaluable, since by aiding in the creation of a new version of IMSMA, iMMAP is helping mine action activities in Afghanistan to become more organized and efficient. Organized mine information is critical because it allows other NGOs and organizations to prioritize their relief efforts based on where need is greatest.

"Landmine contamination is harmful, not only because it kills and maims, but also because it affects livelihoods as reconstruction and rural development projects are impeded by mines and UXO," said iMMAP Program Director Bill Barron. "In response to that problem, organized data can reveal where landmines are cutting off access to water or grazing land, or where they are causing the most loss of life."

Such data is especially important in Afghanistan, where a ghastly 2,370 Afghan communities are affected by 716 million square meters of suspected hazardous areas. Landmines were responsible for the death of 154 people and the injury of another 703 in Afghanistan in 2005 alone.

This is not iMMAP's first time in Afghanistan. In early 20003, iMMAP provided in-the-field technical assistance in mine action information management and training to international humanitarian staff working to deploy the new system. In addition, iMMAP provided emergency and information management support services, through funding by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to the UN Afghanistan Information Management Service (AIMS) throughout 2002. This support took the form of provision of the AIMS Technical Manager for a period of one year, as well as the provision of a regional Information Management Officer for the Kabul region and remote sensing/satellite imagery analysis training to AIMS expatriate and national staff. Support by VVAF's iMMAP to AIMS was critical to allowing this Humanitarian Information Center (HIC) to function effectively during this tumultuous period in Afghanistan.

iMMAP conducted two surveys in Afghanistan in 2002 with funding from CDC. The Mortality, Injury, and Disability Survey (MIDS) was a national-level multi-stage cluster survey that was designed to provide nationally representative data on mortality, injury, and disability in Afghanistan. Additionally, VVAF completed in 2002 a Post-Conflict Contamination Assessment (PCCA), intended to identify the location and impacts of new landmine/unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination upon communities following the overthrow of the Taliban by coalition military forces.