Zimbabwe: Women in demining
Empowering women as agents of change in their communities.
In much of rural sub-Saharan Africa, women struggle to find regular work opportunities, leaving many families struggling to survive. APOPO made great efforts to promote the project as it was starting, at village level far and wide, and directly to female leaders and village groups. As a result we were able to meet the initial internal requirement of hiring at least 30% women (currently 32% of our staff are women).
APOPO incorporates and promotes the inclusion of women among its staff at all levels and their participation in setting priorities and plans empowers women as agents of change in their communities. All the women recruited to our program in Zimbabwe come from low-income communities and for some this is their first proper job. APOPO's Zimbabwe project will continue to prioritize a more gender balanced team as much as possible when expanding the program and adding or replacing staff.
Marlin one of APOPO's manual deminers in Zimbabwe reflects:
“I feel incredibly grateful and proud that the APOPO team are clearing landmines in my home country Zimbabwe. This project is clearing a dense minefield laid four decades ago. This is one of the poorest, driest areas in Zimbabwe, and livestock rearing is the main source of livelihood. Up to 100 cattle are lost on this minefield each year, pushing whole families into poverty. These hidden dangers cause people like me and my family to live in fear and poverty. The first step is making the land safe. I love animals and helping to protect not only the animals that rely on this vital land, but also the local farmers and their livestock is why I applied for the job without hesitation.
APOPO is continuing to lead efforts to uplift women as key agents of change within their communities, recognizing that our involvement is critical to ensuring lasting change in the fight against landmines and disease. By hiring women and men from landmine impacted communities, APOPO raises us and our extended families out of poverty while contributing to peace-building and sustainable futures. Historically many deminers were men but APOPO tries to incorporate and promote inclusion of women among its staff as much as possible. I am grateful to be part of the change coming to Chiredzi."
With support from the U.S. and Swiss governments, APOPO is clearing a minefield that will provide immediate food security and livelihood benefits to local communities, making way for safe and productive land-use to provide livelihood opportunities and generate income, helping lift whole communities out of poverty. APOPO in Zimbabwe has already cleared over 250,000 m2 and found and destroyed over 4000 landmines and boosters.
APOPO’s work is also critical to the longer-term development of a major eco-tourism and conservation opportunity. The task is in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor, a strip of land that connects the rarely visited Gonarezhou National Park to the more popular Kruger National Park in South Africa. Once fully cleared, tourists will be able to travel between the two areas more easily. This will hopefully in turn increase overall tourist revenues in the area and additional job opportunities for locals.
Photos by David Brazier
APOPO Mine Action Zimbabwe is incredibly grateful to all our dedicated partners and donors.