Last month HALO Zimbabwe achieved the milestone of destroying over 5,000 mines since clearance began in November 2013. This mine clearance has taken place along a 10km stretch of border in the Mashonaland Central region, along the northern border with Mozambique.
The Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre estimates that mines have claimed over 1,590 lives and injured over 2,000 people. In Zimbabwe HALO employs 153 national staff members, the majority recruited from the communities affected by the mines.
Mines block access to residential land, inhibit cross border trading, deny small-scale farmers’ access to agricultural land and separate communities from their primary water source - adversely affecting sanitation and livestock production.
Clearance of this border minefield will release much-needed land for residential and community development. It will also allow for huge tracts of fertile, communal land to be put back into productive use, making land safe for cultivation and livestock grazing.
HALO’s recent baseline socio-economic survey found that $55,000 worth of livestock had been lost to mine accidents by just 10% of the households that live along the short 10km stretch of minefield prior to the clearance exercise. Livestock is the major investment commodity in rural Zimbabwe and therefore HALO’s work is imperative in safeguarding this investment for local families and communities. Safeguarding this investment protects livelihoods and enables greater food security.
There remains a pressing need for continued mine clearance in the area. HALO’s programme will continue to work along the 400km stretch of border minefield assigned to it by the government. The organisation is supported by the governments of Japan, Ireland, the United States and World Without Mines. It is seeking additional donor support to increase its capacity and staff numbers. www.halotrust.org