Burma Valley in Manicaland has been declared landmine impact-free after just over two years of mine clearance work by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) with funding support from the United States and Norwegian governments. The area was handed over to the local communities on July 9th 2015 at a ceremony witnessed by the Provincial Administrator, the directors of Zimbabwe Mine Action Center (ZIMAC) and the National Mine Action Authority of Zimbabwe (NAMAAZ), military and government officials, traditional leaders, and over 200 beneficiaries of the newly cleared area.
The local community has already started using the land and will be undertaking income-generating activities such as banana growing and livestock rearing in the newly cleared area.
“The United States is very pleased that local people will improve their livelihoods and that the entire community will be safer as a result of donor-funded humanitarian demining activities,” said Karen Kelley, U.S. Embassy Counselor for Public Affairs.
The demining exercise began in May 2013 and the mine clearance process involved the recovery and destruction of 120 landmines, a process that was completed on February 27, 2015. The Burma Valley minefield was 4.1 kilometers long and 150 meters wide on average.
Since 2012, the United States has provided $1.5 million for demining activities in Zimbabwe, with $750,000 going to fund NPA’s work in eastern Zimbabwe. In addition, the United States has allocated another $3 million for humanitarian demining in 2015. The funding will enable NPA and HALO Trust, non-governmental organizations working in northern Zimbabwe, to accelerate Zimbabwe’s progress towards becoming mine impact-free. The support will also assist victims of landmine accidents and raise public awareness of the dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance.
Between 1997 and 2000, the United States also provided $6,351,000 to assist Zimbabwean authorities in clearing minefields around Victoria Falls, thus making this area safe for the tourism activities that generate significant income for Zimbabwean business owners and the government of Zimbabwe. As required by NPA’s memorandum of understanding with the government of Zimbabwe, quality control of the cleared area was completed by government officials from the Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (ZIMAC) in April 2015.
Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, over 1,500 people and 120,000 livestock have been killed in landmine accidents.