Teaching Communities to Stay Safe
APOPO Cambodia Risk Education
APOPO works quickly and cost-efficiently to make land safe by clearing landmines and other explosives, like cluster munitions, so families living near minefields can rebuild their lives and livelihoods in safety. It is vital that during that time we teach people how to stay safe. Risk education sets out to arm as many people as possible with potentially life-saving information on how to recognise, avoid and report threats. This is particularly important for children but also families that are returning home after conflict has ended.
According to the Landmine Monitor, in 2020 at least 7,073 people were killed or injured by landmines and unexploded bombs. That is the equivalent of 19 people every day. These hidden weapons devastate lives in at least 60 countries in the world and half of all civilian casualties are children.
Alongside the clearance efforts in the Province of Preah Vihear, APOPO is providing Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) in the neighboring communities. The purpose of APOPO's EORE is to reduce injury and death from landmines and other threats by informing school-age children about how to protect themselves and their peers. The effort is currently concentrated in Choam Khsant District, one of the most mine affected areas in Cambodia, that has suffered from numerous accidents in recent years. It is often that following EORE lessons, the community immediately reports on new items that were found, leading to a proper handling of the hazardous objects by our mine clearance teams.
In 2021 APOPO developed new EORE materials kit that includes additional posters and leaflets designed for the school-aged children and APOPO donates small school materials to the attending pupils. These informational sessions prove to be very effective so far, the number of attendants is growing and the teams receive more and more information about items found following the lessons. The project is ongoing in partnership with APOPO's long standing partner Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC) and the District Leadership under the direction of the CMAA.
APOPO has recently secured sufficient funding to continue clearing landmines in Preah Vihear until the end of 2023, and with the recent reopening of all the schools in Cambodia from October 2021, APOPO plans to raise the number of the EORE activities in the coming period. Raising awareness of the threat and working directly with communities helps change behaviour, which in turn reduces the risk of death or injury. A person's ability to correctly identify a landmine or other explosive weapon can save their life.
APOPO Mine Action Cambodia is incredibly grateful to all our dedicated partners and donors, with their help and continued
focus we want to ensure we finish the job in the shortest possible timeframe.