Norwegian Delegation visits APOPO in Angola

By Ashley Fitzpatrick | Director of Grants & Contracts, Mine Action Africa

The APOPO Angola team hosts a delegation from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Last week the APOPO team in Uíge were delighted to receive Second Secretary, Birgitte Wilhelmsen Wessel and Senior Advisor, Anja Thomson of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

APOPO has been working in Angola since 2012 in partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), one of the leading humanitarian mine clearance operators in Angola. NPA has been working to clear landmines in Angola for over 22 years and has a complete mine action capacity within which APOPO's HeroRATs are a component. The HeroRATs ignore scrap metal and only detect explosives, so they are much faster at detecting landmines than conventional methods using metal detectors. 

Angola is contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of three decades of fighting in a civil war that ended in 2002. The Landmine Monitor estimates that 88,000 people have been killed and injured as a result of landmines and ERW in Angola, one of the highest causality rates in the word. In 2016 there were 44 reported casualties in Angola of which 75% were children. This only accounts for casualties that are reported in provinces where international NGOs like APOPO are clearing landmines, so sadly the actual number of causalities is even higher.

APOPO is currently clearing minefields in the municipality of Quitexe in Uíge province. The current task located near Quitexe Village was formerly a military position during the war and once all the landmines have been cleared the community will expand the village, their crops, and farms known as lavaras in the local language.

The visit included a general presentation of the joint APOPO-NPA mine action program, a history of the minefield, and a comprehensive safety briefing. This was followed by conversations about demining techniques, land release, and the mine detection rats. During the visit, there were demonstrations of all three capacities used in Angola including manual demining, a brush cutting machine, and of course the mine detection rats!

From start to finish the guests were highly interested and attentive asking many relevant questions and engaging actively with APOPO and NPA staff. 

Quickly clearing the land will allow Angolans in the area not only the chance to return to a normal life, but to flourish in a safe environment.

APOPO Angola is deeply grateful for the support and generous contributions of its partners and donors.