Ahmad Shah, a local resident of Godar, leads a visitor around his village, pointing out patches of land where minefields once existed. Godar is located in an area of Parwan province that suffered heavy fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in 1999. The clashes left lands contaminated with anti-personnel and anti-tank mines as well as unexploded ordinance (UXO), seriously hampering economic and agricultural activities.
“Before clearance of this area,” said Ahmad Shah, “we had so many problems with mines and other explosives. We couldn’t even use our agricultural lands to grow wheat and corn, or let livestock graze.”
In an innovative public-private partnership between the IRU, UNMAS and the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA), clearance was carried out in areas on or around roads linking Kabul to its Central Asian neighbours. The aim of the project was to strengthen road security and safety and bolster economic trade links between villages and urban centres.
This area near Godar was cleared by Afghan Technical Consultants at the end of September 2011. In total, 1,466 sq m of area were cleared of mines and UXO. By reducing the risk of injury and death posed to those travelling and working along these routes – and by strengthening links between villages and bigger market centres – the project is contributing towards the reconstruction, development and stabilisation of Afghanistan.
“We are very happy that the area has been cleared by demining teams and that we can now use it for agriculture and animal grazing. We also have an asphalt road, which is an important next step towards creating business between villagers and urban centres.
Since the area was cleared, many people built houses because they now feel safe,” he added. “There were many mine accidents in this area before clearance and many people lost their legs, hands, eyes and even their lives,” Ahmad Shah recalled. “Now we have many shops and oil pump stations in the area. This is a busy road and every day, thousands of passengers and drivers pass by; some buy food from the shops and oil from the pump stations. Now, we will be able to take care of our families and communities.”