APOPO alongside local partner the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) is conducting a humanitarian landmine clearance project in the northern Siem Reap province, targeting the most mine-affected villages in order to return safe productive land back to communities where it makes the biggest impact.
Joint APOPO - CMAC Project
In April 2015, APOPO sent its mine detection rats (MDR) outside of the African continent for the first time to Cambodia following successful mine clearance projects in Angola and Mozambique. The MDR teams are implemented to support existing conventional demining CMAC teams in order to speed up clearance operations in Cambodia.
At least 26 million explosive sub-munitions were dropped on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, mostly in eastern and northeastern areas bordering the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Vietnam. The bombing is estimated to have left between 1.9 million and 5.8 million cluster munitions remnants. Over 64,000 landmine and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979. With over 25,000 amputees Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world.
Joint APOPO/CMAC operations are being carried out in the Srey Nouy area of Siem Reap, where suspect land along roads and farmland has not been safe to use for almost 30 years. The surrounding rural population is dependent on agriculture. Clearance of the area will return much-needed safe land back to the communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. This in turn will allow them to improve their livelihoods by increasing their livestock and expanding their farms.
APOPO first began joint operations with CMAC in 2014. During this initial phase APOPO’s capacity was made up of manual demining teams, technical survey and clearance teams, mechanical armored brush cutters as well as explosive ordnance disposal teams. The project focused on Siem Reap province in northern Cambodia.
When the MDR first arrived they went through a period of acclimatization followed by performance tests, which they all passed. The MDR teams then continued onto trials for 3 months on live minefields and were quality controlled for a further 3 months by CMAC who checked the zones after the MDR using metal detectors. The shadowing CMAC manual teams found that the MDR did not miss a single mine and fully approved them allowing them to proceed to standrad operations. The HeroRAT teams successfully completed clearance of seven minefields in 2016.
APOPO continues to clear minefields in Srae Nouy Commune which lies in Varin district, of Siem Reap Province.