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Africa to Stop Demining, as Donor Funding Moves to Middle East

by Oyinlola Isiaka on June 30, 2018

Featured Image via Flickr/Tomas Del Coro

It took over 23 years for more than 300,000 explosive devices (reminants of three decades of war) to be disarmed by UN and other agencies. This was hailed as a humanitarian success. In Africa, Mozambique was the first-heavily mined nation to be declared landmine-free. But, the importance of landmines in Africa is actually connected to African nations’ economies.

According to scholars from the London Business School and Brown University, they estimated that the Mozambique’s GDP would have been 25% lower in 2015 if efforts were not made to demine the nation. So there have been efforts made to demine all of Africa. However, there hasn’t been much luck. As African nations looking to replicate Mozambique’s success have struggled.

For example, Angola is still contaminated by 221 square kilometers of landmines. The country has a proposed target of complete demining of its land by 2025, but the nation is far behind from reaching this target. A UK-based non-governmental organization, MAG, estimates that Angola needs “seven times more funding” to achieve this goal. Furthermore, international support for demining efforts has declined by two-thirds since 2012. While, national assistance has declined by half in just a year.

Angola is not the only country struggling with achieving this goal. Some other heavily mined African countries are Chad, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Senegal, South Sudan and Eritrea. These nations aren’t even as close as Angola to demining their country. According to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, Zimbabwe among others has extended its 2018 demining goal by another eight years. Somalia and Senegal have still not defined the extent of their contamination.

Emmanuel Sauvage of Humanity & Inclusion, the organization instrumental to Mozambique’s land-mine free success, stated the main cause is “donor fatigue”. As international support for demining efforts have been dwindling. 2016 was the highest level of funding for demining on record globally, but Africa experienced a dip in funding. “Countries like Chad, Senegal or the DRC could achieve mine-free status, but they are being somewhat penalized. Conflicts in the Middle East are absorbing nearly all funding for the sector,” he continued. Also, Chris Loughran, MAG’s director of policy and advocacy, expressed his concern that “Africa is the continent that risks being forgotten” as mine action is often an after thought in the international community. Demining is not often considered an integral part of a country’s development.

Finally, Giorgio Chiovelli, Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou, authors of research on the effects of demining, argued that demining has spillover effects. “In aggregate, demining provides a huge economic boost. This indirect effect is something governments and demining agencies have totally missed,” explained Papaioannou.

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