Working towards a mine-free Mozambique

APOPO'’s Mozambique Mine Action Program is a committed partner to the National Demining Program of Mozambique, working to rid the country of its landmine legacy. 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 to clear all known remaining minefields in the area by 2014 in accordance with Mozambique’s mine-ban treaty deadline. However, APOPO completed the Gaza project a year ahead of schedule and as a result of this achievement the APOPO team has now been tasked with the clearance of the Manica, Sofala and Tete provinces. We have already commenced clearance operations these areas.

Since the start of operations, APOPO’s integrated capacity (Mine Detection Rats (MDRs), manual deminers and mechanical ground preparation machines) has returned 7,911,376 square meters of land to the local communities in Mozambique. In doing so, the team has found and destroyed 2,587 landmines, 1,017 Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) and 13,051 Small Arms and Ammunitions (SAA).

APOPO’s mine action capacity has continued to grow over the last couple of years and we currently have 7 manual demining teams, 54 MDRs and 3 mechanical ground preparation machines.

All of the land APOPO has cleared is in rural areas, enabling safe passage to water resources, making land available for agriculture, and allowing freedom of movement for grazing.

APOPO has trained 2 survey teams to carry out non-technical survey and the Mine Free District Evaluation, a requirement set by the Instituto Nacional de Desminagem (IND) to ensure each and every village in the province is visited and confirmed as ‘mine-free’ with no known Suspect Hazardous Areas (SHAs).

APOPO's commitment to the National Clearance Plan and our unique and effective clearance system will help Mozambique reach its goal of being mine-free and meet its mine-ban treaty obligation in the near future.

APOPO’s work in Mozambique is made possible by the support of the Belgian, Flemish, Norwegian Governments, Swiss Development Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) by channeling financial support from Australia, Japan, Sweden and DFID.

Mozambique's mine history

Landmines were laid in Mozambique during two distinct phases of conflict:

  • Between 1964 and 1974, when large barrier and defensive minefields were laid during the war for independence;
  • Between 1977 and 1992, during the civil war between Renamo and Frelimo.

These phases of conflict not only left anti-personnel mines buried in all ten provinces of Mozambique, but also resulted in many kilometers of roads being disrupted due to the presence of anti-vehicle mines.

Originally the level of contamination in Mozambique was unknown although the impact on some communities was very serious, with high death and injury rates, and the destruction of social and economic infrastructure.

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. A Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) completed in August 2001 found landmines located in all 10 provinces of Mozambique and 123 of its 128 districts, subsequently affecting over 1.4 million people in 791 communities.

Mines and ERW have substantially impacted national development. 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.

Gabriel Baloi

Gabriel Baloi

I'’ve heard a lot about APOPO. Some deminers are friends of mine. I’'m happy to know that we will be free of landmines soon. Our children and livestock will no longer be in danger. We will be able to cultivate the land, cut wood for construction or even build schools.

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