2013 Portfolio of Mine Action ProjectsPosted: January 7, 2013
Each year, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) publishes the Portfolio of Mine Action Projects, a compilation of mine action activities that require funding. The projects fall into several broad categories of mine action, e.g., mine clearing, stockpile destruction, etc., and are listed by countries. One of the interesting (or at least I think it’s interesting) aspects of the Portfolio is that it shows both the cost of the project (supported by a very basic budget) and the shortfall of funding that is needed to fully support the project. In light of the 2012 Landmine Monitor’s finding that funding for victim assistance (VA) projects are at their lowest level since tracking began and that VA funding declined 30% from 2010 to 2011, let’s take a closer look at the victim assistance projects in the 2013 Portfolio for Africa.
To date, donors have committed more than US $52 million for projects in the 2013 Portfolio. The majority of that funding, approximately US $33 million will go towards mine clearance projects and another US 18 million will support projects that fulfill multiple pillars of mine action. That’s the good news. The bad news is, these commitments represent only 14% of the US $361 million requested. Less than US $450,000, or 3%, of the US $12.6 million requested for victim assistance has been committed to date. Also, not all mine-affected countries submit projects to the Portfolio so the actual amount of funding needed for mine action and victim assistance in 2013 is probably much higher.
In Africa, only 7 countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Eritrea, Mali, Western Sahara, South Sudan and Sudan, submitted victim assistance projects to the 2013 Portfolio. The total value of these projects is US $5.5 million and to date, no funds have been committed in support of these projects. This is not good because, as UNMAS says in its own application for funding, landmine “survivors’ needs are not yet fully addressed and a significant number of them are not fully enjoying their human rights” (UNMAS). Part of the reason that survivor needs are not addressed is due to the enormous cost of victim assistance relative to other mine action projects. For example, the Rufaida Health Foundation of Sudan is requesting US $278,710 to provide just psycho-social support, no physical rehabilitation, surgical or socio-economic services, to 250 direct and 750 indirect beneficiaries; or $279 per beneficiary (UNMAS). To compare, JASMAR for Human Security of Sudan is proposing to provide mine risk education to 30,000 beneficiaries for $258,456, or less than $10 per beneficiary (UNMAS). Also, if successful, the mine risk education would hopefully eliminate the need for victim assistance thus avoiding that potential future cost. If you are a donor looking at the metrics, you would fund the mine risk education to get the greatest “value” for your contribution. Victim assistance is costly, the most expensive pillar of mine action on a per beneficiary level, but it is also absolutely necessary for survivors. The projects seeking support, by country, are as follows.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Four separate agencies, UNMAS and three non-governmental organizations, submitted VA projects for DRC to the Portfolio. UNMAS is seeking support for national level coordination of victim assistance including developing a registry of all landmine survivors and building the capacity of national service providers to meet the needs of survivors. The UNMAS project also provides support for all aspects of victim assistance, from emergency care to socio-economic reintegration (UNMAS). Eglise du Christ au Congo’s (ECC) project is similar to UNMAS’s in that it seeks to provide comprehensive care and covers many of the aspects of victim assistance, but it is limited geographically to service areas in the district of Tanganyika, Fizi-Baraka territory, District of Kabinda and the city of Kinshasa. ECC also identifies a goal of 120 survivors participating in income generation activities (UNMAS). Afrique pour la Lutte Antimines submitted a project to provide socio-economic support to survivors in Orientale province, around the city of Kisangani (UNMAS) and Synergie pour la Lutte Antimines en Equateur Sud proposed the same for Equateur province (UNMAS). In total the 2013 request for DRC is US $1.45 million.
Egypt has not signed or ratified the Mine Ban Treaty so many donor countries may be loath to support mine action projects there, but both of the victim assistance projects are worth a look. The Executive Secretariat for Mine Clearance and the Development of the North West Coast submitted a project to support local NGOs and associations to develop income generation projects for landmine survivors from the Bedouin communities around the WWII battlefield of El Alamein. The project includes setting up businesses, government purchasers of products produced by landmine survivors and conducting vocation training over a four-year period. If combined with demining in the region, the proposed agricultural and pastoral products (olives and wool) could provide sustainable incomes to landmine survivors living on cleared land (UNMAS). Without more context, I cannot comment on the specifics of the other project submitted to the 2013 Portfolio , but there is some interesting ideas in it. The second project involves the development of a complete Bedouin village and community on land that has been cleared of landmine in Alamein. 5,000 individuals would be re-settled into 1,800 housing units supported by government services and infrastructure to create a new urban area out of what was once a desert minefield. Sounds cool, but can they get the buy-in from the Bedouins? If so, this might be an interesting prototype for future development of cleared lands (UNMAS). The total amount requested for 2013 is US $1.1 million with another US $1.035 million sought for 2014.
The Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare has submitted a US $500,000 project for comprehensive victim assistance services. Focusing on psycho-social and socio-economic reintegration services, the program will reach 60% of mine-affected communities and provide community-based reintegration services “in-line with UN policy on victim support and human rights declarations.” Eritrea is proposing a decentralized program with a centralized monitoring and data collection system (UNMAS).
UNICEF in Mali submitted a multiple pillar project, of which only a small (US $100,000 out of US $757,560) portion of which is for victim assistance. The VA activities consist of providing “access to emergency” services through referrals rather than direct provision of support and focuses on women and children, consistent with UNICEF’s mission (UNMAS).
Similar to the Egyptian proposals, the 2013 Portfolio submission for Western Sahara seeks to reclaim cleared land and use it for agricultural purposes. Working with the POLISARIO administration, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) will provide training on agricultural techniques, improve access to water for drinking and irrigation, and encourage the development of farmers’ cooperatives. This is a two-year project, budgeted at US $500,000, the majority of which will fund the purchase of agricultural equipment needed to raise crops in the desert (UNMAS).
In Sudan, UNMAS proposes to “support landmine survivors and persons with disabilities through the provision of socio-economic empowerment activities” through grants for small businesses and other income generation projects and business skills trainings. Combined with a broader proposal to provide mine risk education, the project will offer US $300,000 for socio-economic reintegration support and advocacy on behalf landmine survivors and improved data collection to understand the population of survivors. UNMAS will work through government ministries as well as the official mine action authority for South Sudan and local and international NGOs (UNMAS).
As a former employee of Landmine Survivors Network whose peer support methodology has been advanced to great success by Cameron Macauley and the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR, http://maic.jmu.edu/), it warns my heart to see that the Rufaida Health Foundation has submitted not one, but two projects to the 2013 Portfolio for landmine survivor peer support. The first project is a training of trainers program that will establish 20 peer supporters in mine-affected states of Sudan. These peer supporters will then help their fellow landmine survivors to reintegrate into society and be aware of their rights and the availability of rehabilitation services (UNMAS). The second project complements the training of trainers program and is the actual implementation of a peer recovery model in three states, Khartoum, Kassala and Blue Nile. In addition, Rufaida is proposing to provide medical and psychotherapy services through mental health professionals (UNMAS). The total cost of Rufaida Health Foundation’s two projects is US $320,000. Also in Sudan, UNMAS proposes a more comprehensive victim assistance program in Sudan, combining the psychosocial support with socio-economic interventions such as vocational training and seed funding for small businesses (UNMAS).
One last point, all of the victim assistance programs proposed in the 2013 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects focus on psycho-social support, income generation activities, data collection and / or advocacy and awareness of rights; there are no prosthetic services, surgical services or physical rehabilitation programs. Such services would be part of a country’s health care infrastructure, but they are also necessary for landmine survivors to be able to take advantage of the services being offered by the proposed projects.
Michael P. Moore
January 7, 2013