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Japan boosts fight against landmines

15 Mar, 2020 - 00:03 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Sunday Mail Reporter

JAPAN has released a grant worth US$624 907 to a landmines removal project in Mashonaland Central province, which will be carried out by The HALO Trust, an international non-profit making organisation.

This is to ensure Zimbabwe attains landmine-free status by 2025, which will increase human security and open up previously inaccessible farmland, water sources, grazing land and travel routes. So far, Japan has supported the removal of more than 14 000 landmines, which covered roughly 900 000 square metres.

Zimbabwe was left with over one million landmines after the liberation struggle planted by Rhodesian Security Forces (RSF).

Most of these explosive remnants of war were meant to restrict movement of guerrilla fighters, particularly along the country’s borders with Zambia and Mozambique.

They covered more than 700 kilometres.

Land mines affect over 75 000 people in 87 communities countrywide.

Speaking at the grants’ signing ceremony held in Harare recently, Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Toshiyuki Iwado said: “In Rushinga district, we will continue our assistance with removing landmines along the border with Mozambique. We have supported landmine clearance through The HALO Trust since 2013 and this is our sixth project.

“This new project will continue our support for five demining teams for 12 months. We hope that it will take Zimbabwe a significant step closer towards the goal of being landmine-free by 2025.”

The HALO Trust programme manager, Mr Samuel Fricker, said the grant will go a long way in helping communities in Rushinga.

“Here in Harare landmines are often forgotten. They affect a small group of people living in communities right along the Mozambican border, but for those who have to live with them the impact is on a daily basis. In Mashonaland Central province, as Ambassador Iwado mentioned, there are six projects.

“After the liberation war ended, landmines remained and they are continuing to injure humans and livestock. People living in these communities will now be able to go about their day-to-day activities. We hope that when the minefields are gone it will stimulate further developments,” said Mr Fricker.

He said the project will employ about 57 Zimbabweans as well as save children who were walking over 40 minutes to school every day, avoiding fields with landmines.

The density of landmines in Zimbabwe is quite high.

In 2018, 15 percent of all landmines destroyed in the world were in Zimbabwe, while the country lost over 120 000 livestock due to these explosives since independence.

About 43 square kilometres of land left in Zimbabwe still has landmines.

However, only seven square kilometres are yet to be de-mined in Mashonaland Central province.

Meanwhile, Japan awarded two other grants to grassroots projects in Bikita and Muzarabani.

A project for improving the educational environment at Utete Secondary School in Muzarabani District, which will be carried out by World Vision, received US$90 894.

A total of US$122 445 was granted to Mashoko Christian Hospital in Bikita for the purchase of X-ray equipment. World Vision country director Mr Emmanuel Isch said Japan’s assistance will improve enrolment at the school.

“The grant will go towards building four classroom blocks and one teacher’s cottage. It will also provide school and office supplies, and fence the property of a Muzabarani school. The addition of more classrooms will potentially double the enrolment at the school because right now it only has four blocks,” said Mr Isch.

The executive director of Mashoko Christian Hospital, Dr Zindoga Bungu, said this development will save residents of the area time and money.

“The funds will go towards a digital X-ray machine, solar power installations as well as computers and other equipment that go with the digital X-ray machine. This is great, it will save our people money. They used to travel to Masvingo for X-rays. We will also be able to treat their diseases early,” he said.

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