Nelly Bassily | March 10, 2008
It’s estimated that five to 10 million landmines are produced each year. Already, more than 110 million are buried in the soil of some 70 countries, including an estimated 20 million in Africa. The enduring threat that landmines pose long after conflict has led to an international movement against them, namely the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In 1999, an international treaty banning the production and use of landmines came into force, but some countries, including the United States, Russia, and China, refused to sign.
This story illustrates just how devastating landmines can be to people working to rebuild their lives following a conflict. Organizations like DanChuchAid work to warn communities of the threat of landmines, but, unfortunately, not every person at risk can be reached. And preventing death and injury by landmines is only part of the battle. This story also illustrates how the threat of landmines in farmers’ fields can limit agricultural production. Survivors like Echa Byaombe face a double burden of learning to live with their amputation and finding new livelihoods away from the fields they know.
For more information on landmines and efforts to reduce their impact, you may wish to visit the following sites:
-The website of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a network of more than 1,400 organizations in 90 countries: http://www.icbl.org/
-The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction: http://www.international.gc.ca/foreign_policy/mines/VII/VII_AA_i-en.asp
-DanChurchAid’s description of their work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
http://www.danchurchaid.org/sider_paa_hjemmesiden/where_we_work/africa/congo_drc/what_we_do-A report on an effort to clear mined roads in order to re-establish agriculture in Angola: http://maic.jmu.edu/Journal/9.1/Focus/kempf/kempf.htm
-An academic review of the economics of landmine clearance in farmlands:
-“101 Great Ideas for Socio-Economic Reintegration of Mine Survivors”: http://www.standingtallaustralia.org/pdfs/101GreatIdeas1.pdf
You may also wish to refer to the following articles from past issues of Farm Radio Weekly:
-“Low cost white fly traps save mango crops” (FRW Issue 1, December 2007), which describes an agricultural alternative pursued by farmers in Casamance, Senegal, whose fields were planted with landmines
-“Farmers rebuild agriculture sector against all odds” (FRW Issue 9, February 2008), which describes the challenges of Liberian farmers working to re-establish livelihoods following a long civil conflict
If you broadcast to an area that is threatened by landmines as a result of past conflict, you may consider inviting the following guests to your studio for an on-air interview or panel discussion:
-A representative from a group working to mitigate the threat of landmines, who can explain the steps farmers – and others – can take to identify and avoid landmines, and how to pinpoint areas where landmines may be present.
-A survivor of a landmine explosion, who can share his or her experiences in learning to live with an amputation and exploring new livelihood options.