10.05.2011: On April 19th 2011, DanChurchAid proudly returned 40,045sqm of safe land to villagers in Mitondo and Kenani, Katanga province in Congo
Hundreds of people from Mitondo, Kenani and surrounding villages gathered to witness the handover ceremony that marked the culmination of nine months of patient and delicate work by the DCA Humanitarian Mine Action team.
Removed and destroyed
Throughout the project, which ran from February to November 2010, a number of dangerous items were identified, removed and safely destroyed by DCA HMA.
In total, 13 Anti-Personnel (AP) mines, 21 items of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and 115 Small Arms Ammunitions (SAA) were removed from the two areas using a combination of both manual and mechanical clearance methods.
Left or discarded during years of recent conflict between various militaries and rebel groups, the presence of these items rendered the land unusable for local villagers and the land remained inaccessible until DCA started to conduct demining operations in the area.
Dangerous farming In the DR Congo, agriculture plays an important role in the lives of millions of people. Farming not only helps to improve food security amongst poor households; it also enables farmers to sell their produce at local market in order to increase income generation. However, due to the continued presence of landmines and other forms of UXO in the country, many rural communities are unable to farm and this has a negative impact on their livelihoods.
Back to agriculture DCA Mine Action initiatives in the DR Congo are part of a larger integrated programmatic approach incorporating both Mine Action and Food Security.
Now that the hidden dangers of landmines and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) have been removed, DCA will then provide relevant agricultural support such as seeds, tools and farming knowledge (courtesy of local consultants) to selected beneficiaries in Mitondo through food security projects.
By linking these two initiatives, DCA can maximize the impact of the work by ensuring that cleared land is used productively in order to improve livelihoods and food security in a safe and sustainable way.
This latest intervention complemented an earlier HMA project carried out by DCA in Mitondo in 2009, during which time 27 anti-personnel mines were removed and 7,471sqm of land was released back to the community.
Text and photo by: James Gould-Bourn