Safe ground for development
the impact of demining - FSD
"We cannot use our land. Our children cannot walk safely." With these few words Emam Ali son of Nazar Ali, Deputy of Khahan District Governor, puts in a nutshell the effects of landmine contamination. Khahan district forms part of the remote and mountainous region of Darwaz, in the North Eastern part of Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan. This region has been pushed further into becoming a disadvantaged and neglected area by the direct threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) dating back to the 1980s conflict between the Soviets and the Mujahideen. The threat of landmines "has been a big problem for the community and the people; most of the hazards are close to villages and schools", states Emam Ali.
The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) began its cooperation with PATRIP in the region in 2011. Since then more than 480,000 m2 of previously contaminated land that caused death and serious injury to the local population and prevented agricultural development, animal grazing, socio economic development and access to water have been cleared.
This land is now used for agricultural development, and local products are offered at local markets. Water sources can be accessed safely by humans and animals. Main roads have been reopened, allowing safe movement and trade between neighbouring villages and the rest of the district, thus enhancing local development.
Non-Technical Surveys (NTS) conducted by FSD are a community-based approach to identification of landmine contamination, in which the communities themselves assist FSD to identify the areas that pose a direct threat to the community. Once this information is available, clearance of the hazardous area can be planned and executed.
With a view to supporting local development, FSD employs the local population for these tasks, training them in the art of mine clearing.
Talking about the development of his region, Emam Ali refers to another PATRIP Foundation project: "For years we had to fetch all our food from Faizabad - 5 days walk by donkey or horse. Now, since the beginning of 2013, we can use the bridges built by PATRIP foundation and bring in food from Tajikistan, which is much closer."