Tuesday, September 21, 2010
New Hope for Angola's Amputees
This is an all too common story in the lives of many Angolans living in rural areas. The amputee population in Angola has been calculated as being over 100,000, the highest in the world, of which 8,000 are children under the age of fifteen.
Despite these grave statistics, great progress has been made by multinational deming groups in clearing landmines and providing rehabilitation services to the heavily affected Angolan peoples. These NGO groups help thousands of Angolan demobilized soldiers and disabled civilians regain their dignity and become productive citizens through physical and psychosocial rehabilitation.
New Science in Detecting Landmines! Weeds and humans to the rescue! Scientists in Denmark have been tinkering with Arabidopsis thaliana (the homely Thale cress) trying to produce a plant whose flowers will change color in the presence of landmines.
“Within three to six weeks from being sowed over land mine infested areas the small plant…will turn a warning red whenever close to a land mine.” Arabidopsis can be genetically sensitized to the nitrogen-dioxide (NO2) that leaches from buried explosives.
Arabidopsis, lab rat of the plant world, sprouts and blossoms quickly. “The seeds could be dropped from an airplane over a suspected minefield. After a few weeks of growth, soldiers and civilians could judge by the plants’ colours whether the area is safe. The plants could be a huge help to civilians who want to reclaim farmland after a war.” (Human Flower Project 2008)