Sudan + 5 more

Swiss mine action in Africa

The FSD, Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, founded in 1997, is one of the foremost international mine action organisations based in Geneva, Switzerland. FSD's focus is on locating and destroying landmines and unexploded ordnance to prevent accidents. FSD typically intervenes in countries that emerge from war to prepare the ground for further development initiatives. In many cases, FSD provides support to existing relief or reconstruction programmes.

In 2004, FSD received the "award for merit 2004" from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in recognition of the bravery and dedication of its teams, which assisted humanitarian personnel when they rescued victims to the bombing against UN Headquarters in Bagdad on 19th August 2003.

FSD against mines

To enable other humanitarian assistance

FSD provides emergency support to many other humanitarian organisations. This involves risk assessments, clearing access roads to hospitals and refugee camps, as well as mine safety training for aid workers in Angola, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia or Burundi. As a standby-partner for the United Nations World Food Programme, FSD provides emergency demining support upon request within 72 hours world-wide.

To assist economical development

After a war, agricultural lands and roads are often mined, hindering the economic and social development. In the case of Sudan, FSD every year clears thousands of kilometers of roads and huge areas of arable land so as to foster economic development initiatives. Thanks to FSD programs, people can start to rebuild their livelihoods after long periods of civil strife and unrest.

To assist political re-integration in areas of conflicts

Humanitarian mine action is often an integrated part of larger peace-building initiatives, such as in Burundi. Clearing explosive remnants of war that threaten the local population with teams of deminers that integrate former soldiers and combatants is often a first step towards reconciliation. Also, landmines and bombs must be cleared so that refugees and displaces people may return to their former homes safely.

How does FSD operate?

Local capacity building

Clearing landmines after a war may take years or even decades, and internationally financed demining programmes are often short in scope and time. For this reason, countries affected by landmines need their own local demining capacity that may sustain efforts for the years to come.

The focus of FSD programmes is on local capacity building: FSD recruits its mine action staff directly in the countries affected by landmines. Whenever possible, FSD recruits former combatants and soldiers (including former child soldiers). They are trained by international FSD experts and later supervised by experienced FSD supervisors.

FSD has so far trained thousands of locally recruited deminers, operators, specialized paramedics and support staff. In most cases, locally recruited staff replace international experts at all management levels of a FSD demining programme within a few years.

Integration with national or international reconstruction initiatives

The FSD rarely builds stand-alone programmes. In most cases, FSD ties its projects to other humanitarian or development initiatives and works hand in hand with major international humanitiarian organisations and development agencies. FSD demining projects support infrastructure and road reconstruction efforts, clear airports, acces to water and schools.

FSD in Africa

FSD saves lives and stops the suffering of children, women and men, subjected to daily threats of mines and unexploded ordnances in different countries of Africa. Major countries of intervention so far include Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Programmes of FSD in Africa in 2005

Funding the battle against mines

Sources of funds

The mine action service of FSD is funded directly by international organisations or funds from donors.

International organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and various UN agencies including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) have directly been funding actions of FSD also provides services to governments of countries affected by landmines.

The governments of Australia, Canada, Japan, Switzerland and other countries regularly contribute to the humanitarian demining projects. FSD also receives funds from foundations and private sources.

Efficient use of funds

90 % of FSD's funds are spent on demining work in the field, mostly in Africa. Among the major cost factors are salaries for demining and support staff in the field, and equipment adapted to the task at hand. For the sake of efficiency, FSD use state-of-the art demining equipment, including specific body protection for its operators, high-tech navigational systems, a fleet of mine-protected vehicles, and various types of demining machinery including small, medium and heavy flails and protected excavators. 10 % of FSD's funds are allocated to its headquarters that provides overall coordination, financial controls and programme support.


FSD is a private humanitarian foundation under direct supervision of the Swiss government. Since 2003, FSD has been awarded the ZEWO quality logo as a humanitarian organisation that "merits trust". FSD reports to Swiss GAAP RPC 21 accounting standards. Its accounts are audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.