Belgian Delegation Visits APOPO’s Demining Tasks in Angola

Belgian Delegation Visits APOPO’s Demining Tasks in Angola

From June 26-28, a Belgian Embassy delegation visited APOPO’s demining operations in Angola. The delegation was headed by Pieter-Jan Hammels, the First Secretary of the Belgian Embassy in Angola and Deputy Head of Mission and also included Karel Cappelle, Belgium’s Counsellor for Peace Consolidation and Official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The visit highlighted Belgium’s continued commitment to supporting APOPO’s demining activities in Angola and added to the longstanding partnership between Belgium and APOPO.

The demining work being done by APOPO is essential not only for the safety of the local communities but also for the economic development of the region. Belgium is proud to support such a vital cause,” said Pieter-Jan Hammels during the visit.

APOPO and Belgian embassy delegates Group Photo at the minefield

During the visit, the delegation visited APOPO’s demining tasks in various locations across Cuanza Sul province. On June 26, it visited the task in Caçula, Libolo and the next day, it toured the Mangueira 1 in Libolo and the previously concluded Zongo task in Amboim. Additionally the Belgian delegation met with representatives of the Amboim local authorities. On June 28, the delegation was welcomed by Emília Salles Camuhuto, the Vice-Governor for Political, Social, and Economic Sectors of Cuanza Sul province. 

APOPO’s and Belgium’s Role and Progress Made in Angola

Belgium’s ongoing commitment to supporting demining activities in Angola has been vital to APOPO’s mission. Since 2020, Belgium has provided over 2 million euros specifically for demining efforts in Angola. This financial support has been crucial in enabling APOPO to deploy its technical expertise across various regions in Angola, including the challenging terrains of Cuanza Sul. “Belgium’s support has been a cornerstone of our success,” said Manuel Agostinho, APOPO’s Program Manager in Angola. “Their funding helps us to clear landmines, ensuring the safety of our communities and promoting development.

Direct Impact on Angolan Communities

The transformation brought by demining efforts on Angolan communities is huge. Previously hazardous areas are now being transformed into safe spaces for agricultural and housing projects. “Seeing children play and farmers cultivate land that was once perilous is the real victory. It’s the reason we do what we do,” Manuel Agostinho said. 

Confirmed Hazardous Area being cleared by APOPO

One of the standout successes is the clearance of the Zongo area. Spanning over 142,356 square meters, this area was once riddled with dangerous explosives. Today, thanks to APOPO’s work, it is safe for people to live and is being put to productive use. This clearance has allowed numerousnumeroud families to return to their homes and rebuild their lives, contributing to the broader goal of national development.

Belgium’s Backing of APOPO’s Global Efforts

Belgium’s support for APOPO extends beyond Angola. The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been a significant contributor to APOPO’s global demining initiatives, including substantial funding for programs in Azerbaijan and Mozambique. In Azerbaijan, Belgium has allocated €250,000 to support the safe return of internally displaced persons through the capacity building of the Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA).

In Mozambique, Belgium’s support was pivotal in enabling APOPO to help the country achieve mine-free status by 2015. These contributions highlight Belgium’s commitment to global peace and security, demonstrating the profound impact of international collaboration in making the world a safer place.

Challenges and Future Plans

APOPO Manual deminer investigates an area marked as hazardous

Despite APOPO’s successes, demining is still a complex and dangerous task, requiring meticulous planning and execution. However, with the continued support of Belgium and the potential for additional donors, APOPO remains optimistic. “Our work is far from over,” Agostinho emphasized. “But with sustained support, we can accelerate our efforts and move closer to a mine-free Angola.

APOPO’s aims to increase the annual budget in Angola to 950,000 euros to scale up operations. This funding will both support current activities as well as expand the reach of our demining efforts, ensuring that more regions benefit from our life-saving work. The goal is to clear more land, safeguard more lives, and ultimately, ensure a future where no Angolan lives in fear of landmines.

A Call for Continued Support

Manuel Agostinho expressed deep gratitude for Belgium’s support of demining activities in Angola, noting the critical role that international partnerships like this play in the success of APOPO’s mission. “We are immensely thankful for Belgium’s commitment. Their support has been a cornerstone of our success,” he said. However, he also stressed the need for continued financial backing from other sources to sustain and expand these vital operations.

Pieter-Jan Hammels emphasized the importance of these efforts, stating, “Our commitment to Angola’s demining process is unwavering. We believe in the power of restoring safe land to communities, allowing them to thrive and prosper.

We call upon the international community to join us in this crucial endeavor. Together, we can achieve a mine-free Angola and create a safer, more prosperous environment for all its citizens,” Manuel Agostinho urged.

APOPO’s Gratitude

As APOPO continues its mission to rid Angola of landmines, the support from Belgium is a crucial element of this process. The partnership not only funds demining efforts but also allows for real progress to be made in creating a safer and more prosperous Angola.


APOPO is deeply grateful for the generous support from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the years.

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