As a first step to demining, Mine-Tech, in cooperation with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), recently completed a survey of Dombe, a town in Mozambique, to assess the landmine problem. They are now ready to begin clearing the mines and will be in contact with this project through the process.
The key points from the survey as well as some geographical and social data are outlined below.
Dombe, Manica Province, Mozambique
Dombe is located in the Sussendenga District, Manica Province, at GPS 19° 56' 544" S, 33° 23' 719" E. It is situated 108 km south of the city of Sussendenga [see the map of Mozambique]. It has a population of 2,862 people, with an area population of 40,000.
Dombe is well situated since it is linked, by road, to several cities such as Espungabera and Sussendenga as well as to the Maputo road. It is also on the Lucite River, a permanent water course. [see the map of Dombe]
Dombe has good agricultural potential because of its fertile soils and good water supply from the River Lucite. It is suitable for cattle, provided the Tsetse fly problem can be controlled. Most of the people living along the river Lucite fetch their water from the river.
The town has boreholes, a clinic and a primary school. The boreholes were supplied by the Red Cross and they are all working. There Primary School, with grades 1 to 4, has a total of 391 pupils and 5 teachers. There are 127 girls and 204 boys. A mortar bomb was found near the school. There is also a problem of school drop-out due to early marriages and job seeking.
There are very thick forests around the town and the soil is very good for agriculture. Some of the forest areas are very good for cattle and game ranching. The main crops are sorghum and maize. There is one grinding mill which is privately owned by Mr Faruk Mahomed. It is diesel powered and runs for 8 hours a day. There are a few cattle and many goats in Dombe. There is a Tsetse fly problem which is now being controlled by the government. Most of the ploughing is done by hand, expect in the case of Mr Machava Samson, who owns a small plot on which he uses a tractor to plough.
The main mode of transport is bicycles. There is also a bus which commutes between Espungabera and Chimoio twice a week.
There are 3 shops at Dombe and several kiosks and stalls which sell basic commodities such as soap, cooking oil, salt, dried fish, second hand clothes and medication. Some of the medication on the shelves has expired.
The Mine Situation
During the conflict, fighting in this area was intense with mines being used by both sides. There is a large mined area around Dombe. The minefield poses a real threat to people, livestock and development.
In the initial survey, several anti-personnel and anti-tank mines were found as well as some Unexploded Ordnances (UXOs) and mortar bombs. An 82 mm mortar bomb was found near the school. This was rusted outside due to exposure to bad weather.
Several roads and footpaths leading out of Dombe are thought to be mined and some have fallen into disuse as a result.
Since 1991, there have been six mine incidents. The most recent took place this year and the person died.
Methods recommended for clearance
Mine clearance is a complex activity, both in terms of the technical expertise required as well as the social and humanitarian implications. Mine-Tech and GTZ recommend a comprehensive method called Integrated Humanitarian Demining (IHD). Recognizing that development in the post-conflict period cannot take place in many rural areas of Manica Province due to the mine and UXO threat, the IHD approach sees demining as integrated with the work of those involved in humanitarian and development activities. IHD is a community-based approach. It recognizes that the participation of communities is essential. The local community live with the problem and they are able to provide much valuable information as to the location of mines and UXO. That information-sharing enables them to participate in the solution.
In Dombe, the survey recommends hand clearance as the most suitable method of clearance, supported by dogs in areas where mine density is not high.