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THE JOB OF A DEMINER
| 12 February 1998
We are members of a peace club at a school in
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and we want to ask you the following
How many dogs do you have on your team?
ERIC: Our demining
team has two sniffer dogs.
MICHAEL: The number
of dogs used will depend on the job and the type of terrain encountered.
A typical dog team is the handler and two dogs. Both dogs will cover
the same area at different times, as alone they will not reach the
UN humanitarian standard of 99.6%. The dogs are used in a variety
of ways, but generally they are used to reduce the area to be cleared
by hand, and all areas they have cleared must be backed up by manual
clearance to reach the UN Humanitarian standard.
When do you start to demine Dombe?
ERIC: Demining in
Dombe started on 10 January.
What is the name of the school in Dombe you
ERIC: In Dombe centre
there is Dombe Primary School which is hot seated.
MICHAEL: This means
they have two sets of students using the same classrooms, a morning
and an afternoon shift.
From Lycee de Beauregard, France
What is a typical day for a deminer?
0500hrs Wake up
0700hrs Loading vehicle
0715hrs Departing campsite for worksite
0800hrs Start work
1000hrs Tea Break
1500hrs Tea time
1600hrs Stop work
1700hrs back to camp
1800hrs O group
(Operations debrief/brief for next day).
Smoke breaks arranged by the team leader to suit the situation.
MICHAEL: In the field
we tend to wake up early and take longer lunches due to the mid
day heat (all day heat!). People go to bed early as there is not
much to do after dark. These are remote areas so there is no power,
there is no alcohol use during an operation, and we keep strictly
away from the local population to avoid any altercations. We, and
the deminers, cannot afford anything that may detract from their
Can you do this as a career or is it always
a temporary job?
ERIC: Demining is
done as a career as we don’t employ make-shift engineers.
How much do you make per month?
MICHAEL: This is specific
business information and we do not disclose what individuals make.
Are there many casualties?
ERIC: Casualties are
minimised if safety precautions are adhered to at all times.
MICHAEL: I am pleased
to say that we did not have a single casualty in Mozambique last
How did you get trained for this job?
ERIC: I was trained
as a combat engineer in the army but Mine-Tech is now running deminers
training courses for its members.
runs its own in-house training course for two weeks for all new
recruits (who come from all walks of life, including straight out
of high school). After that, they are given three months On-Job
Training, where they will be placed with an experienced team in
the field. Retraining is done constantly before new jobs and occasionally
during jobs. For example, if the team finds a different type of
mine from what they had been finding the previous week, they may
stop and reinforce certain drills specific to this device.
How are the sites to be demined chosen and
ERIC: The client chooses
sites to be demined, preferably those places that are within proximity
of water sources, fields and schools.
MICHAEL: Targets are
set by the donor or client, depending on the job. (See humanitarian
and commercial demining question from before.) With the IHD programme,
we select targets in conjunction with the Provincial Demining Commissioner
(Snr. Saul) for Manica Province, who gathers his information for
priorities from District and community authorities. He, Snr. Saul,
will be here in a couple of weeks for an English language course,
if you have any questions for him. I will tell you more if you are
Michael Laban/Eric Mlambo