A delegation from the Japanese Embassy in Angola recently visited APOPO’s mine clearance operations in Angola’s Cuanza Sul Province. This visit highlights the ongoing support from Japan and underscores the importance of international cooperation in Angola’s efforts to rid the country of landmines.
APOPO, with support from the Belgian and the Japanese government, has made significant progress in Cuanza Sul Province since 2020. Funding exceeding $1.6 million has allowed interventions in eight of the province’s twelve municipalities. The impact has been the transformation of hundreds of hectares of land previously marred by landmines into safe areas for economic activities.
Japan’s contribution to demining efforts in Angola totals over $564,000 since 2021, a delegate spokesman said during the visit.
Manuel Agostinho, APOPO’s Program Manager in Angola, shared some key statistics: “So far, APOPO has managed to clear around 4.5 million square meters of land. We are clearing approximately 1 million square meters per year. If we double our operational capacity, we can do much more. Our work so far has benefited directly and indirectly around 106,000 people by releasing agricultural land. We will continue with this work because there are still people waiting for land to be cleared so they can farm it.”
Despite progress, there are lingering challenges. Cuanza Sul still faces the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance. APOPO, in collaboration with other demining organizations and the Angolan National Demining Centre (Centro Nacional de Desminagem), which provides demining equipment for the ongoing operations, continues its efforts to mitigate these risks.
“Since 2020, we have removed around 270 mines and over 5,000 other unexploded devices. The Japanese government has provided funding for the mine clearance project worth over US$564,000 as part of this partnership,” Manuel Agostinho noted.
During the visit, the Japanese Embassy delegation reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to Angola’s demining initiatives. They acknowledged Japan’s financial support and praised the success of previous projects. Japan pledged to continue backing these essential demining efforts.