Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Momentous Goals Reached in Mine Clearance

Angola has long been known as having a significant number of residue landmines as a result of the 27 year-long civil war.   United Nations estimates in 2008 listed the number of Angolan landmines range between 10 and 20 million, which equates to at least 1 to 2 land mines for every person in the country.  The U.N. estimates put the number of Angolan amputees resulting from the silent killers at over 100,000. Land mines have a devastating effect upon the environment by restricting the movement of people, deterring farming, disrupting economies, and killing and mutilating many innocent men, women, and children .

Active landmine clearance is continuing and in 2010 a total of 5,512 landmines, 4989 of which were anti-personnel and 523 anti-tank mines, were cleared and destroyed in Angola's 17 provinces.

In conjunction with the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Monday, April 4th, The HALO Trust, the world's oldest and largest humanitarian landmine clearance organization, has released the results of a study it conducted on how previously mined land is used after HALO has cleared it. The study verified the tremendous impact that mine clearance has on food security in rural communities in Angola: 100% of HALO-demined land was put back into productive use: the vast majority for agriculture (72%) followed by animal grazing (16%). The release of former minefields to some of the world's most vulnerable people enables communities to become food self-sufficient and less reliant on aid . 

Other key findings include the fact that cleared land is normally put into productive use in about three months as well as the fact that 32% of beneficiaries interviewed reported selling crops (most commonly beans, maize and potatoes) they have grown on cleared land. 

In addition to making arable land safe for cultivation, HALO's mine clearance has opened over 3,250 miles of roads in Angola. This has enabled aid and development projects to occur in previously inaccessible areas and has helped farmers get their goods to market.

HALO's demining efforts have saved lives and benefited agricultural development in post-conflict countries for over two decades. The impact of mine clearance on food security has also been quantified in Nagorno Karabakh, where with the support of USAID, HALO estimates it is helping unlock $5 million in annual agriculture productivity in an area with a population of approximately 120,000. In Nagorno Karabakh, Angola and in other mined countries, HALO believes the economic and food security opportunities are much greater.(HALO Trust Press Release)

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