JOINT APOPO - NPA PROJECT
Since 2013, APOPO has been working under the umbrella of its partner Norwegian People´s Aid (NPA), one of the leading humanitarian mine clearance operators in Angola. NPA has worked with mines in the country since 1994 and has a comprehensive mine action capacity to which APOPO’s MDR (HeroRATs) offer a highly effective complement.
As of December 2015 APOPO is pleased to announce that all assigned tasks are now complete, and the Malele site in Zaire province was completed one year in advance due to the highly effective speed of the HeroRATs.
Despite some regional development, Angola still has expanses in the east that remain heavily mine-ridden, undeveloped and amongst the poorest in the world. It is estimated that one fifth of Angola’s population is affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). Landmines not only kill and maim innocent people, but also cut communities off from basic needs such as water sources and travel routes, and productive land crucial for growing crops or grazing livestock.
APOPO and NPA have been clearing areas such as Ngola Luige in Melange, in order to allow villages, schools and businesses to expand, or, as in Zaire, economical development to be planned. The Malele site along the Congo border (Zaire province) has been an off-limits landmine suspected area for many years but will soon become a vibrant trading post.
After the successful operations in Malele, the rats moved on to Kazai on the western coastline in early 2016. Mines were thought to have been laid to prevent entering the country via the sea. None were found but the land is now properly checked and ready for use. From there the rats were sent to Ngola Luigi II, where they continue operations.
As well as landmine detection operations, APOPO engaged in an important study to accurately assess the impact of the HeroRATs on conventional mine action methods (the detection and disposal of explosive materials on suspect land). This was carried out by studying records of the Zaire site clearance that deployed both traditional mine action methods as well as the HeroRATs, and by carrying out tests on other sites with and without the rats. The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) has published a report on this study that praises the capabilities of the APOPO MDR and clearly highlights their advantage over conventional methods in certain settings. Read the full report here.
APOPO is supported in Angola by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Trafigura Foundation and Only The Brave Foundation.