Nub Sena and his wife Lak Senan live in Phnum Rai village, their home used to be surrounded by a minefield. Unable to farm the land, Nub Sena would cut trees in the forest on the border to try and earn a living. This is a notoriously dangerous occupation as there is still a high concentration of mines in that area. Lak Senan would stay at home and look after their young son Seyla Soyann.
In Phnum Rai multiple periods of mine laying by the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese led to a complex and widespread mine threat. Phnum Rai is in Ta Taok commune where 82% of families rely on agriculture as their primary source of income.
Phnum Rai is a relatively new community and the population of the village is rapidly increasing, thereby increasing the demand for land. Even before the mine clearance started, some villagers had already begun to encroach on mine-contaminated land, building homes there and using it for agricultural activities.
When HALO began clearance in 2013 Lak Senan was able to secure a job as a HALO deminer. She now earns a regular salary and is able to return home to look after her son every afternoon. Following HALO clearance around their home, a local NGO began work in the village, conducting community training sessions in agricultural skills.
Nub Sena learnt how to look after chickens and plant a small vegetable garden. Each month, they use a portion of Lak Senan’s salary from HALO to buy woodcraft tools and her husband hopes to eventually start his own business.
Using a community-based demining approach allows HALO to contribute to socio-economic growth in previously marginalised mine-affected communities through the remittance of funds into the areas where mines have restricted development. In addition, it can facilitate the employment of female members of staff, as living close enough to return to their homes on a regular basis allows them to both work for HALO and look after their dependents.
Clearing land of mines also allows community projects to be implemented which are vital for preventing the perpetuation of poverty in rural areas. HALO coordinates clearance with local NGOs, to enable sustainable and inclusive development amongst previously mine-affected communities.
Following HALO clearance in Phnum Rai, a new community pond and water pump were built. This demonstrates the importance of the work HALO has done thus far to allow the development of rural infrastructure providing vital water for domestic and agricultural activities.
Thus far, HALO has cleared 18.6 hectares of land in the village, destroying 443 anti-personnel mines in the process.