Mine action is not so much about landmines as it is about people and their interactions with mine-affected environments. Its aim is humanitarian and developmental: to recreate an environment in which people can live safely; in which economic and social well-being can occur free from the constraints imposed by landmines; and in which the needs of victims are addressed.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the lead UN agency for addressing the long-term socio-economic impact of landmine contamination in affected states and regions. UNDP currently provides technical support to 27 countries, focusing on the development of national and local capacities through integrated, sustainable mine-action programmes. UNDP also manages several global partnership projects, including its successful management training programme, mine action exchange programme, and socio-economic impact workshops. UNDP’s development focus helps create the conditions for the resumption of normal economic activity, reconstruction, and development.
Assistance to National Mine Action Authorities
UNDP assists national and local mine-action authorities with a range of activities, including:
- Helping mine-affected countries to manage the landmine problem on their own over the long term by establishing and sustaining national Mine Action Coordination Centres to coordinate, prioritize, and ensure the quality of mine action operations.
- Addressing the socio-economic consequences of landmine contamination.
- Supporting the establishment of management infrastructure and institutional arrangements.
- Coordinating workshops and training programmes for managers, programme and support staff, and technical teams of mine-action coordination centres.
- Implementing landmine impact surveys and utilizing their results to develop national strategic plans.
- Setting up information management systems.
- Establishing national legislative frameworks.
- Developing resource mobilization strategies and donor coordination mechanisms.
- Facilitating the work of donors, UN agencies, NGOs and other organizations involved in mine action.
UNDP follows a multi-sectoral approach to development, which permits it to couple its mine-action programmes with other kinds of assistance, including infrastructure rehabilitation, rural development, and refugee reintegration. This provides a wider framework within which to address the mine problem and to engage local populations in the revitalization of their communities.
UNDP Country Programmes
The countries which currently receive UNDP mine action support include: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, Ukraine, and Yemen.
Global Partnership Projects
UNDP’s New York-based Mine Action Team manages several Global Partnership Projects, which help strengthen the capacities of national mine-action programmes to effectively plan, prioritize, and implement their activities. The Team also undertakes various studies and initiatives aimed at promoting the development dimension of mine action.
Management Training Programmes: UNDP’s management training courses develop the management skills of national senior and mid-level mine-action programme managers.
Socio-Economic Impact Workshops: These workshops share the key recommendations from UNDP’s study on the Socio-economic Approaches to Mine Action with national mine-action staff.
Countries Approaching Completion: UNDP’s newest initiative seeks to mobilize donor support for those mine-affected countries that have a reasonable chance of solving their landmine problem in the next 3-5 years. Currently thirteen mine-affecte states, a number that is expected to grow, are working to bolster their national plans to be eligible for this endeavor.
South-South Cooperation: UNDP’s efforts to promote south-south cooperation are highlighted by its Mine Action Exchange programme, which provides a mechanism for the staff of mine-action programmes to undertake short assignments with the programmes of other nations or international organizations in order to share their experiences and lessons learned. UNDP also regularly engages senior officials from mine-affected states to strengthen their policy, advocacy, and operational approaches to mine action.
Mainstreaming Study: UNDP has commissioned a study that was released in late 2004 on the extent to which mine action has been integrated in the development agenda. The study outlines ways that the international mine action and development communities can more effectively mainstream mine action in the development policies and programmes of major donors and mine-affected countries. UNDP is promoting these recommendations.
Capacity Development Study: UNDP has commissioned a study for release in 2005 on mine-action capacity development, which will critically review the extent of and need for capacity development in the various aspects of mine action. An accompanying operational handbook will be produced, which will provide guidelines for the international community on mine-action capacity development and transitions to national authorities.
A Development Perspective
While it is increasingly recognized that mine action is a development issue, a lot of work remains to be done to effectively link mine action and development efforts. UNDP addresses mine action from a development perspective and advocates for the mainstreaming of mine action in development planning, programming and budgeting processes. This involves encouraging mine-affected developing nations to include mine action in their national development plans, including their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs). It also involves working with local actors to plan and implement mine action in coordination with development projects and programmes whenever possible. And finally, UNDP also actively engages traditional donors to fund mine-action projects through development budgets, and it encourages international financial institutions to contribute more funding to mine action through loans to mine-affected states.
Mainstreaming cannot be done successfully by one organization; it requires close partnership and joint action by all mine-action actors and the development community. Among the key stakeholders that must be involved in this process are the governments and mine-action institutions of mine-affected states, donor governments, UN agencies, and international financial institutions as well as national and international nongovernmental organizations and institutions.
Mine Action Supports the Millennium Development Goals
Mine action directly supports three of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and contributes indirectly toward the attainment of the other MDGs. Mine action has contributed to poverty reduction in many countries, as demonstrated by a World Bank/UNDP cost/benefit study in 1999, which concluded that clearing 34.2 square kilometers of agricultural land in Afghanistan would not only reduce the direct annual death toll by 340, but it would also generate a stream of annual benefits of US$740,000 per year, and renew access to land and structures valued at US$38 million. The average “rate of return” on mine-action projects was virtually double the Bank’s average rate of return in other sectors. Furthermore, mine action also directly contributes to environmental sustainability, as explosives in the ground degrade soil and have a long-lasting toxic effect on the environment. Landmines also maim and kill endangered species of wildlife, as evidenced in many countries in Africa.
Mine action has provided a unique example of how global partnerships can support development causes. For example, the international campaign to ban landmines, which emerged in the mid-1990s, mobilized more than 1,300 NGOs from 80 countries to support the drafting and eventual entry into force of the mine ban treaty. More recently, donor governments and agencies have formed lasting partnerships with the United Nations and civil society organizations to provide approximately US$300 million for mine action programmes annually and to mainstream mine action within development strategies. The mine action community continually seeks to strengthen its partnership with the larger international development community and to align its activities with broader development initiatives.
UNDP Development Drivers
UNDP’s mine-action initiatives are guided by five key ‘development drivers.’ These drivers are in line with UNDP’s Multi-Year Funding Framework (MYFF), which includes mine action as one of UNDP’s 30 service lines.
- Developing national capacities
- Enhancing national ownership
- Advocating for and fostering an enabling environment
- Promoting gender equality
- Forging partnerships
Summary of UNDP Country Support (2004)
(1) Africa Region
In Angola, UNDP has helped the government establish a provincial-level work plan for mine action to complement the existing national plan.
In Chad, UNDP is supporting efforts by the government to demine a large contaminated area in Wadi Doum village and the surrounding military base, which will be a great contribution toward peace in the region and will allow hundreds of people living in the area to resettle in their homes.
In Eritrea, UNDP technical advisory staff has significantly expanded in order to support the responsibilities of the reconstituted Eritrean Demining Authority and Eritrean Demining Operations. In addition, programmatic linkages have been made among the Eritrean landmine impact survey, the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) and the National Survey for People with Disabilities.
UNDP has helped conduct the recently completed landmine impact survey in Ethiopia and expand the operational capacity of demining operations in the country.
In Guinea-Bissau, IMAS and the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) have been introduced, and UNDP continues to provide training to national mine action managers.
UNDP supports the coordination activities of Mozambique’s National Demining Institute and the clearance activities of the Accelerated Demining Programme in the south of Mozambique.
In Somalia, UNDP supports the Somalia Mine Action Centre in Somaliland and is currently assisting local authorities in Puntland to establish a mine action centre in this region. A “National Policy for Humanitarian Mine Action” has been drafted for Somalia and UNDP is assisting further development of this strategy.
(2) Arab-States Region
UNDP’s support to Iraq includes the provision of essential training, workshops, and technical support services.
UNDP has recently established a new mine-action capacity building programme in Jordan at the request of the government. UNDP is currently providing management training to senior- and mid-level managers.
UNDP supports Lebanon’s National Demining Office in advocating the principles of the mine ban treaty through its demining, mine risk education, mine victim assistance and advisory policies and activities.
UNDP’s new mine action programme in Sudan is assisting the government in establishing an effective institutional capacity to manage the landmine problem in the long term.
UNDP continues to assist Yemen, which represents one of several mature, well-established mine action programmes that have received capacity development support from UNDP.
(3) Asia-Pacific Region
In Afghanistan, the results of the ongoing landmine impact survey will provide useful data to help develop a strategic response to the mine action problem, from a humanitarian and development perspective. UNDP has established a capacity building project to complement the work of the UN Mine Action Service and to prepare the government for the eventual assumption of responsibility for the mine action sector.
UNDP is assisting the national authorities in Cambodia establish an institutional framework for the integration of demining activities within socio-economic development plans at the commune, district, provincial and national levels.
UNDP has provided support to the government of Iran to develop a national mine action strategy and national standards.
One of the UN’s key recent achievements in Laos has been its assistance to the government in developing a 10-year strategic plan for mine clearance, mine risk education and survivor assistance.
In Sri Lanka, UNDP has assisted the government in establishing national mine action standards and it has supported the national authorities in their coordination of international and national operators.
(4) Europe & the CIS Region
In Albania, UNDP is helping the government realize its plan of declaring Albania free from the impact of mines by the end of 2005.
A landmine impact survey was recently conducted in Azerbaijan and UNDP technical support is now minimal, operating primarily in strategic areas.
A new national structure is currently in place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and UNDP continues to provide key advisory services focused on long-term strategic issues.
UNDP considers Croatia a success story in its effort to build national mine action capacities. UNDP provides ongoing management training opportunities to both middle- and senior-level managers.
Tajikistan represents a success story in UNDP’s effort to implement a quick, efficient response to the needs of governments of mine-affected states to address a relatively limited mine problem.
UNDP has concluded its support to the Ukraine during the preparatory phase of the government’s stockpile destruction programme, including advocacy and trials in advance of the destruction of the country’s stockpile of PFM mines.
(5) Latin American & the Caribbean Region
In Colombia, UNDP is currently establishing a capacity development support strategy, which will enable the government and civil society to work together to address the mine problem.