The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) on Monday received over $300,000 from Belgian non-profit, Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnede Product Ontwikkeling (Apopo), for a Mine Detection Rats (MDR) project to clear landmines on 430ha of plantations in Siem Reap and Preah Vihear provinces.
The year-long project will begin next year.
A memorandum of understanding involving Mine Detection Rats Integrated and the CMAC Demining Capacity project was signed on Monday by CMAC director-general Heng Ratana and Apopo-Cambodia programme manager Michael Heiman in the capital.
“The project, which will deploy a total of 34 CMAC staff, will be implemented in Siem Reap under the management of CMAC Demining Unit (DU) 4, and in Preah Vihear under CMAC DU 6 with a total grant assistance of $304,226.85 covering the period from January 1 to December 31,” said Ratana.
He said staff will be divided into six teams composed of two Technical Survey and Clearance (TSC) teams, two Brush Cutter (BC) teams and two MDR teams.
The project aims to clear 130ha of landmine-contaminated areas in Siem Reap and 300ha in Preah Vihear.
In 2014, Apopo introduced MDRs to Cambodia to support CMAC’s demining activities. The integration of MDRs with manual mine-clearance workers and demining machines has sped up demining operations and increased productivity, said CMAC.
“This year, CMAC and Apopo take a step forward by integrating a new concept of the Smart Technical Survey Dogs with CMAC. It is a long evaluation project that CMAC and Apopo have been doing together. And it has gained the interest of international communities,” CMAC said.
Heiman said the technical survey dogs will be equipped with GPS, cameras, and voice control backpacks. He said the biggest advantage of animal detection systems is their ability to skip over metallic objects and single out explosives, thus accelerating clearance in many hazardous areas in the Kingdom.
Apopo operates in Siem Reap, Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces and has 52 rats. Next year, both CMAC and Apopo will continue its project, funded by the JTI Foundation, the UK and Dutch People’s Postcode Lotteries, Calmar Corps and Global Development Group.
“We are extremely happy to continue our work with CMAC for the benefit of the people in Cambodia and I would like to thank Ratana for all his efforts and ongoing support for the success of this project,” said Heiman.
By next year, Apopo aims to clear and release 3,000,000sqm of mine-contaminated areas, added Heiman.