Across the Horn of Africa, rural communities face a double threat. Landmines laid during years of conflict continue to endanger lives and livelihoods. Minefields cut off access to grazing land and vital water resources. They cause devastating accidents and kill the valuable livestock that pastoralist families rely on for survival.
Deka Salaan, Deminer, HALO Somaliland
Deforestation and desertification are also destroying the traditional pastoralist way of life. In order to survive, trees have been cut for firewood on an unprecedented scale, accelerating soil loss and land degradation. The system of managed reserves of range-land for animals to graze in times of drought has collapsed, leaving families vulnerable to climactic shocks. Pressure on limited resources drives mass internal migration, placing further stress on communities and regions. To build resilient and secure communities, it is vital land ecosystems are restored but the presence of minefields prevents this rehabilitation from taking place.
HALO has launched an innovative project to combine mine clearance with environmental development, reducing the risk of death or devastating injuries from landmine accidents and improving livelihood opportunities in a region which is highly vulnerable to climate threats.
Local men and women will be recruited and trained to clear the landmines that threaten their lives and livelihoods. Once the land is safe, HALO will work with Candlelight, a local partner and environmental programme implementer, to train communities to employ innovative climate risk mitigation techniques, including:
The project aims to build resilient communities and tackle the drivers of conflict and displacement of people through the sustainable rehabilitation of land cleared of landmines. Making land safe saves lives, prevents accidents and reduces pressure on communities. Following minefield clearance with land restoration will allow for a more peaceful environment, improve social cohesion and offer livelihood and development opportunities. Digging soil bunds and reseeding the area will improve food security, alleviating the effects of climate risks on communities and on peace.
Local employment created by this project will directly tackle poverty and offer alternatives to violence which stem from lack of opportunities. The project will contribute to the empowerment of women through investment in training and the establishment of school and community tree nurseries to create livelihood opportunities for women in a region where they are often scarce. The creation of community projects, led by a local NGO partner, will ensure that communities themselves are trained and empowered to understand and manage their local environment, which, replicated across the region, will have a mutually reinforcing impact.