Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC) signs contract for 2021.

Yesterday on December 10th, APOPO Cambodia Program Manager, Michael Heiman and CMAC Director-General, His Excellency Heng Ratana, met in Phnom Penh to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the continuation of APOPO’s Mine detection Rat (MDR) and CMAC mine clearance operations in Cambodia in 2021.  

APOPO works to free men, women, and children from a daily fear and anxiety and help them get back on their feet after conflict. No one expected how much life would change this year as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and countries went into lockdown. APOPO mine action Cambodia pushed to keep working in order to ensure the people we serve were not left behind. Together with CMAC, APOPO Cambodia planned to clear 3 million square meters of dangerous land and return it to the kingdom for further development. The final numbers are not in yet but APOPO has managed to surpass this target significantly.  

This year brought expansion and growth for the Cambodia program despite all the challenges: APOPO announced the Technical Survey Dog program and adoptions and embarked on a proof of concept trial project to see if the dogs can also detect cluster munition remnants. Where where there were once minefields, there is now opportunity. Families like Seany Oeurn’s in Cambodia can focus on growing crops and raising livestock to create a more stable and secure future for their children and grandchildren. Yet, much work remains to realise a mine-free Cambodia by 2025.

Beneficiary and landmine victim Oeurn with family. Photo © Briana Marie Forgie

About half of Cambodia’s minefields have been cleared and yet it still remains one of the most landmine impacted countries in the world. Leftover landmines and explosives from conflict are still a major hindrance to the social and economic development of the country. They prevent access to fertile land for agriculture, sources of water, they travel routes and isolates communities preventing vital access to health services. They also impose financial and emotional burdens on families needing to care for a landmine survivor.CMAC has been integrating mine detection rats and now dogs into its programs since 2016 and has achieved remarkable results. As part of an integrated capacity, mine detection animals significantly increase productivity and allow the return of much needed land back to affected communities more quickly and cost-effectively.

APOPO is very grateful for the continuing partnership with CMAC and is looking forward to another year with great accomplishments bringing Cambodia one step closer to achieving its goal of a mine-free country.

APOPO Cambodia is deeply grateful for the support and generous contributions of its partners and donors.