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Working toward a mine-free Mozambique

APOPO Mine Action has emerged as a committed, reliable and trusted partner to the National Demining Institute (IND) of Mozambique by exceeding expectations and programme targets set for resolving the country’s landmine problem. In 2013 APOPO expanded its capacity to tasks across four provinces and cleared/released 2,227,888 square metres of land and safely destroying 578 landmines, 54 items of unexploded ordnance and 294 small arms and ammunitions.

Prior to last year’s accomplishments, in 2008, APOPO was tasked as the sole demining operator for clearance of the Gaza province (one of the most mine-affected provinces in Mozambique), with the goal of clearing all known remaining minefields by March 2014. APOPO completed its work in Gaza Province over one year ahead of schedule, in December 2012.

This year (2014) APOPO is tasked to clear about 1.6 million square metres of land in Manica, Maputo, Sofala and Tete Provinces. With this year’s operations already well underway, on 21 March the Province of Maputo was successfully handed over and declared free of known landmines in a well attended joint ceremony held by APOPO and other mine action stakeholders, donors and partners.

At present APOPO’s capacity in Mozambique includes eight manual demining teams, two sections of mine detection rat handlers with 43 MDRs, and 5 armored machines for mechanical demining and ground preparation.

APOPO’s work in Mozambique was made possible by the generous support of the governments of Belgium, Flanders, Norway, and Germany; and as an implementing partner of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Mozambique, APOPO received UNDP channeled financial support from the Swiss Development Cooperation, Sweden, Australia, and Japan. Additionally, APOPO also appreciates its partnership with the Digger Foundation, which allowed APOPO to import one Digger D-3 demining machine to enhance its operational capacity. Finally, APOPO is grateful for its strong collaboration with Mozambique’s National Demining Institute (IND) and looks forward to a realizing a mine-free Mozambique in 2014.

Mozambique's mine history

Mozambique’s landmine problem was once one of the most severe in the world, with a legacy of landmines and explosive remnants of war from decades of conflict. Tens of thousands of landmines were laid in Mozambique during its 1964-1975 fight for independence and throughout the civil war that followed. All factions used mines to defend provincial and district towns, roads, airstrips, key bridges, power supply infrastructure and military posts. Although the civil war ended in the early 1990s, landmines and unexploded ordnance have continued to claim lives and hinder development.

A large-scale mine clearance effort was launched in 1993 by the United Nations Operations in Mozambique (UNMOZ) as well as international NGOs. At that time Mozambique was considered one of the most mine affected countries in the world.

Landmines represent an insidious and persistent danger to the personal security of Mozambique’s inhabitants as well as impede socio-economic development and full recovery from war. Clearance of hazardous areas releases land for arable farming and cattle grazing, provide relief from the burden of living under the threat of landmines, and foster more favorable conditions for broad scale development, investment and economic growth.

The Mozambique Action Plan for the Reduction of Poverty for 2014 recognizes this impact by including mine action as one of eight main crosscutting issues that affect developmental potential and poverty reduction.

Ilza Tovela, Assistant Team Leader

Ilza Tovela, Assistant Team Leader

"When I see villagers in the Macarretane area early in the morning, sometimes with babies on their backs, ploughing in the fields nearby, it makes me realize how important my work is to these people. "

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