Alice Butau (second left), 59, lives in the village of Gotsi, in Zimbabwe, a few hundred metres from a mineﬁeld that runs close to the Mozambican border.
She has formed a women’s livelihoods group that cuts and paints the wooden sticks that mark the mineﬁelds. “For each 200 sticks we cut we are paid ten dollars,” Alice explained. She needs the extra money to pay medical bills for her 11-year-old grandson, Observe, who lost his right hand in a mine accident last year. “He found a mine and picked it up. It blew up in his hands and he was taken to Harare.” Observe’s was the ﬁfth mine accident in the village in last ten years – three of which were fatal. Dozens of animals have been killed. The loss of an ox can be a huge ﬁnancial hit in a place like Gotsi. With support from the Irish government, a dozen people from the village are working as HALO deminers.
Farhan Abdi Sheik Hassan is a farmer in Ceel Bardaale in western Somaliland. The area receives enough rainfall for Farhan to grow oranges, mangos, guava, apples, pomegranates, bananas, coﬀee, onions and avocados, which he sells in the local town of Gabiley. At harvest he can sell up to 25 boxes a day from his 400 trees.
The problem is that the road is mined. Local people either risk their lives to use the 23km road or take a 44km diversion. With support from the Irish Government, HALO started to clear the road in August 2016. When it is cleared in early 2017 Farhan will cut his transport costs in half –helping him to provide for his ﬁve sons and ﬁve daughters.
Monica Tonde, 29, lives in Chimushonga village in eastern Zimbabwe with her husband, Eﬀort, 39, and her four children, aged two, ﬁve, ten and eleven. A very dense, unfenced mineﬁeld close to the village took up three hectares of their seven-hectare farm. On average they used to lose one cow every year on the mineﬁeld, which was a huge ﬁnancial burden. For farmers such as Eﬀort, livestock is used as a store of wealth, and each accident wipes out up to £400 of their savings.
“At one point I had eighteen cows. At the moment I have nine, but I am very keen to expand my herd now that I know I won’t be losing cattle every year.” There are additional beneﬁts: “This is the ﬁrst time in my lifetime that we have been able to plough all of the family plot. Now, with all the land available, I hope to double my yield.”
Mena, 12, and her sister are from Kohnaday, Afghanistan. More than 3,000 families live there. They use the mountains for grazing, ﬁrewood, hunting wildlife and collecting building materials. The path to the mountains runs through a mineﬁeld.
Nine animals have been killed and four people injured in the mineﬁeld. Mena and her sister still have to use the path to collect ﬁrewood. Up to 100 children use the route. With support from the US Department of State, HALO started to clear the mines in December 2016.