The United States announces $3,000,000 to continue efforts to eradicate the threat of landmines in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has faced one of the worst landmine problems in the world. After the Liberation War of the 1970’s, Rhodesian forces laid a series of defensive belts of landmines to prevent movement of opposing forces across the Mozambique and Zambia borders. This resulted in very dense minefields, with tens of thousands of landmines per square mile still threatening local communities today.
In continuing its support to help the country clear its deadly minefields, the United States has announced it will commit $2.25 million to fund HALO’s work making land safe. This includes supporting our life-saving mine risk education activities—teaching families how to stay safe until all the landmines are gone for good. HALO will partner with a local NGO, Happy Readers, to supply a specially designed book called ‘The Minefield’ to families and schools. The book uses stories and images to teach people the risks and how to avoid them.
The funding is part of a $3 million commitment by the United States to help accelerate Zimbabwe towards being landmine-free. Since 1998, the United States Government has invested over $23.9 million for landmine removal programmes in Zimbabwe.
Since HALO’s arrival in 2013, our work has been focused in the north east of the country, with deminers clearing up to 250 landmines a day. In 2019, nearly 15 per cent of the landmines removed globally were in Zimbabwe and this year our team reached a major milestone of 100,000 landmines destroyed.
Over 1,400 acres of land in Zimbabwe has been made safe, allowing local communities to access it for farming and development. Thousands of children no longer have to cross a minefield to reach school and families can now live without fear. To date, our landmine clearance has helped over 80,000 people.
In Zimbabwe, over 50 percent of the population classed as ‘severely food insecure’ by the World Food Programme. This is exacerbated by the presence of landmines, which make land for farming and grazing unsafe to use. Nearly all villages near minefields have reported losing livestock to landmine accidents. Just one accident involving a single cow has a devastating impact on a family’s annual income.
Once land is released back to the community, it can be safely used. Crops can be sold at market, families can be fed, and communities can thrive once again. In a survey conducted by HALO of families on cleared land, nearly 60 per cent of households reported a more varied diet and larger quantities of food since the landmines were removed.
Thabani Sikwili, Driver, HALO Zimbabwe
When the COVID-19 outbreak first took hold over sub-Saharan Africa, HALO’s team in Zimbabwe was able to immediately pivot from clearing landmines to support the Covid emergency response. Our drivers travelled over 15,500 miles to deliver vital medical supplies to community hospitals, transport doctors and nurses to teach health awareness sessions, and drive medical technicians help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This would not have been possible without the continued support of our donors, including the United States.