Partnerships to tackle complex challenges
Cambodia is affected by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) left by 30 years of conflict that ended in the 1990s. A recent Baseline Survey (BLS) of a 124 districts revealed that 1914818 m² of land surface is still contaminated by landmines and ERW. In addition, at least 26 million explosive submunitions were dropped on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, mostly in eastern and north-eastern areas bordering the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam. The bombing is estimated to have left between 1.9 million and 5.8 million cluster munitions remnants.
With support of the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO), APOPO, is implementing a project with local partner the Cambodian Mine Action Centre. The project area is located in one of the most mine-affected parts in Cambodia. Parts of the area are located alongside the heavily mined K5 belt that runs along the Thai border. The K5 has one of the densest concentrations of mines in the world and causes a significant proportion of Cambodia’s mine casualties. The K5, or Tumnup Kor Pram, is a 600km long mine belt which comprises approximately 2-3 million mines.
APOPO and CMAC are conducting humanitarian landmine clearance projects within the framework of APOPO’s land release approach and are targeting the most mine-affected villages in the 15 target communes in 6 Districts in 2 Provinces in Cambodia. These villages are extremely poor, lack adequate social services and have few livelihood opportunities. The lives of villagers have been severely restricted by the presence of landmines, in terms of numbers of casualties and limited livelihoods. In addition, the villages selected have a large number of people living in poverty.
Each of the 6 Districts selected for activities under the project are also amongst the top most mine/ERW impacted Districts in Cambodia by national casualty rate figures. Three of the Districts are in the top 5 most mine/ERW impacted districts in Cambodia.
APOPO, with partner CMAC, is delivering maximum benefit to target groups by removing dangerous objects, releasing land and teaching safe behavior in a gender-balanced way, while at the same time strengthening co-ordination and communication with non-mine action interventions.
8 Mobile teams, 6 Technical Survey and Clearance Teams, 4 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, 2 District Focal Points and 2 Brush Cutter teams within 6 Districts in the Provinces of Siem Reap and Odder Meanchey were deployed. These multi-skilled teams deliver high quality HMA services to address the socio-economic and development needs of high risk communities and are able to communicate in the local language
APOPO also plans to bring Mine Detection Rats (MDR) to Cambodia this year. Plans are underway to train, test, accredit and deploy 12 MDR to support the different operational activities . All MDR must pass an official external accreditation test according to International Mine Action Standards (IMAS), conducted by the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA). When they pass this test the rats and their trainers are officially licensed for operational work in the minefields. Two Cambodian staff members have been trained at APOPO’s training center in Mororogo, Tanzania. They will return to Cambodia to pass on their skills and experience to the APOPO team in Cambodia.