International Day for Mine Awareness: APOPO’s Innovation and Impact in Mine Action
There are currently 66 countries and 7 territories around the world that are affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war that pose a structural barrier to development and economic growth. Landmines pose a threat not only to the lives and safety of the people but also keep any development firmly away because of the ever-present danger of destruction.
The enforcement of the Ottawa Treaty, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, often simply referred to as the Mine Ban Treaty, reiterated the importance and the urgent need for mine clearance in all the affected countries. Several organizations now enable concentrated demining efforts in the some of the world’s most-afflicted regions but there is a strong need for innovative ways to clear contaminated land of mines and other remnants of war.
As a social enterprise that researches, develops and implements detection rats technology for humanitarian purposes, APOPO continues to develop combined approaches using existing demining technology as well as its innovative Mine Detection Rats (MDRs), leading to more efficient mine action work.
In 2012, APOPO continued to build momentum and achieve crucial impact milestones as a fully integrated mine action organization:
· In Mozambique, APOPO handed over a mine-free Gaza province to the government of Mozambique and Instituto Nacional de Desminagem (IND), the country’s national demining institute. APOPO’s strategic Gaza mine action program which started in 2008 cleared over 6 million square meters of land in the province with a budget of just 5.5 million Euro. In its clearance efforts, the APOPO mine action team has found 2,393 landmines, 12,838 small arms and ammunitions, and 922 UXO
· In Thailand, APOPO is implementing a Land Release Methodology to assist the Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC) to accurately record and map minefields along their border with Cambodia. This in essence is what is known as Non-Technical Survey (NTS). APOPO has partnered with a local Thai NGO, Peace Roads Organisation (PRO) and has been working closely with TMAC to systematically survey all minefields along the border in Trat & Buriram Provinces. In 2012, APOPO’s NTS teams surveyed 82,800,000 square meters of land, out of which they identified 8,500,000 square meters as mine-free, saving considerable time, effort and money on unnecessary land clearance
· APOPO partnered with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) a local mine action NGO to assist within the framework of the National Base-Line Survey (BLS). The objective of the Cambodian project was to conduct Non-Technical Survey (NTS) in 4 districts, in the provinces of Mondul Kiri and Stueng Treng, to identify and map Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHA). teams had surveyed 89 villages and identified 121 CHA , totaling 64,788,173 square meters within the two provinces
· In Angola, APOPO has commenced a partnership with Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) whereby APOPO is providing its Mine Detection Rats (MDRs) that are expected to speed up work and consequently the land release process, handlers and a ground preparation machine to support the NPA clearance operations in Malanje. Over the next three years NPA and APOPO´s joint efforts are expected to considerably reduce the impact from landmines in Angola, in a cost-effective way
The impact of mine action is not limited to mere removal of landmines; it encompasses the solutions to larger humanitarian challenges by releasing land for development, assisting communities in leading safer lives, and by improving the socio-economic and environmental conditions in countries world over.