This week The HALO Trust was pleased to sign an amendment to its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Social Welfare in Myanmar. This amendment will allow HALO teams to start conducting Non-Technical Survey (NTS) operations. Working with local communities across Kayin and Shan States, in the east of the country, HALO will gain a better understanding of the scope and nature of landmine and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination which is affecting their daily lives.
Sam Fricker, HALO Myanmar Representative said: "With this ability to conduct non-technical surveys, not only are our teams going to have a better understanding of the threat, but we are also going to know more about where we need to be working, and which areas need our help the most urgently."
HALO teams already conduct Mine Risk Education programming (pictured above) in these communities, and our cross-trained teams are providing accident victims with casualty support and evacuation assistance, but with this amendment the ability of HALO’s teams to help local communities will significantly increase.
Currently in Myanmar, despite landmine and ERW accident rates ranking third in the world, there is little understanding of exactly how many communities and villages are actually contaminated, and therefore the true extent of the impact of landmines and ERW remains unknown. To date, no comprehensive survey has been conducted, and therefore HALO staff will be amongst the first teams pioneering this process in Myanmar.
Survey is a vital first step in accurately understanding the impact, nature and location of contamination. Survey teams engage with impacted communities in a participatory process to accurately map and delineate all known landmine and ERW contamination. The survey can also assist with the prioritisation of future clearance operations by gathering information that will enable the targeting of the most impacted and at risk communities.
Dr. San San Aye, Director General of the Department of Social Welfare said: “We are very pleased to be working with The HALO Trust on this important work. Landmines are a very big issue in our country and we are happy that we can work together on this”
In preparation for this amendment HALO national staff have undergone extensive training and in August 2017 the HALO teams will commence the survey, all thanks to the generous support of U.K. Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).