“APOPO is extremely proud to have played a part in this historical achievement that now allows the people of Mozambique to finally live without the fear of landmines and explosive remnants of war.” - Tess Tewelde, APOPO Head of Mine Action Africa
On the 17th of September 2015, at a ceremony in Maputo, His Excellency Minister Oldemiro Júlio Margues Baloi Minister of Foreign Affairs, declared the country ‘Free of all known landmines’.
APOPO now remains in the country at the request of the National Institute of Demining (IND), to continue providing technical expertise and support capacity for any residual or remaining clearance work such as the former ammunitions store now known as the Malhazine Ecological Park, which Mozambique’s Ministry of Enviroment is transforming into a nature reserve and educational and tourism centre. The Malhazine weapons depot suffered a series of uncontrolled explosions in 2007 that killed and wounded hundreds of people from surrounding communities and scattered bombs, rockets and other explosive material over a large area.
There are currently are 16 mine detection rats supporting the clearance operations and all animals were tested thoroughly before being deployed. APOPO evaluates the performance of all its HeroRATs on a regular basis as per International Mine Action Standards. However, given the diverse nature of the explosive material at Malhazine, it was crucial to make sure the rats were suitable for the job. When the weapons silos exploded, all kinds of hazardous objects were propelled across the area as well as millions of volatile odor compounds. Some of these compounds have evaporated over time but a certain amount remains. This might have negatively influenced the rats' performance because they are trained to detect a specific odor signature (the smell of TNT) and a high concentration of different odor compounds can confuse the rats. However, all 16 MDR showed a very high level of proficiency and have now significantly speeded up clearance operations.
APOPO hopes to ensure clearance and disposal of the explosives within the site by the end of August 2016 to make the area safe for subsequent civil development projects. Clearing Malhazine is significant in terms of sustainable development, the environment, ecotourism and the local economy.
You can support the APOPO Malhazine project here
APOPO IN MOZAMBIQUE SINCE 2008
APOPO has helped rid five provinces from the scourge of these insidious weapons, In the process APOPO has returned safe land for productive use back to communities. Most households in these areas are headed by smallholder farmers who have not been able to use their land to grow crops and sustain their livestock for decades until APOPO released the land. They can now live, work, farm and play without fear.
Mozambique's mine history
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 the country during its 1964-1975 fight for independence and throughout the civil war that followed. All factions used landmines 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.
APOPO’s work in Mozambique was made possible by the generous support of the governments of Belgium, Flanders, Norway, and Germany; and as an implementing partner of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Mozambique, APOPO has received UNDP channeled financial support from the Swiss Development Cooperation, Sweden, Australia, and Japan, and independent support from Mitsubishi and Minas de Revuboe. Additionally, APOPO also appreciates its partnership with the Digger Foundation, which allowed APOPO to import one Digger D-3 demining machine to enhance its operational capacity. Finally, APOPO is grateful for its strong collaboration with Mozambique’s National Demining Institute (IND).