Community-based demining works
KABUL - Farmers and villagers from twelve locations across Afghanistan have been taking part in demining projects to secure the lives of their families and communities.
Mines have long been a threat to Afghans. Figures from the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan show 481 people were killed or injured in incidents related to mines or explosive remnants of war during 2009.
Some 322 males were injured and 93 killed and 51 females were injured and 15 killed.
With assistance from partners, local people are recruited and trained as deminers to clear the mines in their own communities, mainly in volatile areas.
This community-based demining is operational in Khost, Kunar, Nangarhar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Ghor, Kandahar and Bamyan provinces.
From October 2008 to February 2010, seven out of 11 hazards or 81 per cent of 875,503 square metres have been cleared, leading to the destruction of 114 anti-personnel mines and 2,559 other explosive remnants of war in one district of Kunar where 2,400 families live.
It has also become a major source of income for many people.
“Before this I was working as farmer, it was hard work and I could only make a little money. Now, working as a deminer, I have a good salary and the work is rewarding,” one of the deminers from Spena Kalacha village of Kandahar said.
“I think it is good that we demine our own communities since we know where the minefields are better than anyone and it is good that the programme has created jobs for us,” he added.
The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) says that a high-level of community liaison is vital to ensuring the security of these projects.
The 2009 report from MAPA shows that 280 communities across Afghanistan were declared free from mines between January to December 2009.
A total of 51,743 anti-personnel mines, 1,152,738 explosive remnants of war and 746 anti-tank mines were destroyed last year.
Some 430,989 women and girls and 655,018 men and boys received mine risk education courses across Afghanistan.
Mine action efforts in Afghanistan have been active since 1988 and some 15,000 hazardous areas have been cleared throughout the country over this period.
By Kangying Guo, UNAMA