Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Funds APOPO’s Mine Clearance in Azerbaijan

APOPO Mine Action Azerbaijan minefield danger sign

The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BMFA) has provided €250,000 in funding to APOPO for mine clearance in Azerbaijan. This initiative, titled “Supporting Safe Return of Internally Displaced People through Capacity Building of Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA),” aims to clear over 1.13 million square meters of mine-contaminated land in the Karabakh region.

Trained HeroRAT Ada Lovelace is working in Azerbaijan to find landmines

APOPO’s Mission in Azerbaijan

APOPO, known for its innovative use of Mine Detection Rats (MDR) and Technical Survey Dogs (TSD), will deploy these trained animals to detect and clear landmines and unexploded ordnance in the region. The project, which started in January 2024, focuses on high-priority areas in Aghdam and Terter. By clearing these areas, the project will facilitate the safe return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and support reconstruction and development efforts in the region.

The project aims to survey and clear contaminated land as efficiently as possible. The use of MDRs and TSDs improves the effectiveness of traditional methods, speeding up the land release process. This approach not only ensures the safety of returning populations but also accelerates the region’s socio-economic recovery by making land available for agriculture, housing, and infrastructure development.

The use of Technical Survey Dogs improves the effectiveness of traditional methods.

Azerbaijan Project Objectives

The primary objectives of the project include:

Capacity Building: Enhancing the capabilities of ANAMA through training and deploying animal detection teams. By equipping ANAMA with advanced methodologies and technical skills, APOPO aims to create a sustainable framework for ongoing demining efforts in Azerbaijan.

Land Clearance: Surveying, clearing, and releasing mine-contaminated areas to enable safe access for returning IDPs. The project targets a substantial area for clearance, prioritizing regions with high contamination levels to maximize the impact on community safety and resettlement.

Economic Development: Supporting local infrastructure development by making previously hazardous land safe for use. Cleared land will be used to rebuild homes, schools, and health facilities, contributing to the overall stability and growth of the region.

Previous BMFA Support for APOPO

The BMFA has been supporting APOPO’s demining efforts since 2007 with over 6 million Euro in grants. Notably, the BMFA has funded APOPO’s projects in Mozambique, Angola and Cambodia. 

In Mozambique, the BMFA was one of the major funders for APOPO which helped Mozambique to reach its mine free status in 2015.

In Angola, the BMFA has been supporting APOPO since 2012 to boost our efforts to eradicate landmines, significantly improving land release rates and reducing clearance costs. This funding has been instrumental in APOPO’s success in clearing large areas of land, allowing the safe return of local populations and the launch of development projects.

In Cambodia, the BMFA’s support in 2018 and 2019 has enabled APOPO to clear millions of square meters of land, contributing to both safety and economic development in mine-affected regions. The BMFA’s funding has allowed APOPO to integrate its HeroRATs and technical survey dogs into conventional demining operations, improving the speed and efficiency of landmine detection and clearance efforts in the country.

Impact of BMFA Funding

The funding from BMFA has been crucial in enabling APOPO to expand its operations and enhance its demining capabilities. In Angola, the integration of HeroRATs has sped up landmine detection, making significant progress towards the country’s goal of being mine-free by 2025. The BMFA’s support has also allowed the development of new methodologies and technologies in demining, positioning APOPO as a leader in the field.

With the help of the BMFA, Mozambique was one of the first majorly affected mine countries to celebrate its mine free status in 2015.

In Cambodia, the BMFA’s support has helped clear landmines around critical areas, such as the Preah Vihear Temple, facilitating safe agricultural use and local economic growth. This funding has not only improved safety but also contributed to the preservation of cultural heritage sites, benefiting both local communities and international visitors.

The BMFA’s continued support highlights its commitment to global peace and security. By funding APOPO’s project in Azerbaijan, the BMFA is helping to restore safety and stability to a conflict-affected region, enabling displaced populations to return home and rebuild their lives. This project not only ensures safety but also promotes economic development, making a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of people.


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

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