Most of the MgM mine sappers are of the Kuanyama tribe - and therefore at home in the province of Kunene.
It is of great help that we can transport our elaborate - and heavy - vehicles of the organization people Against Mines in the transport planes of the World Food Programm.
Just an idea for the future: In their own workshops like this one, war junk will be turned into mine clearance vehicles by MgM. The equipment has been donated by German companies.
Unbelievable amounts of dangerous, unexploded ammunition and mines are being found by MgM deminers – and are rendered harmless forever.
Explosive detecting dogs - and their handlers - only achieve dependable results when they undergo thorough and repeated training.
The MgM mine clearance project Cunene
Kunene is the middle of three of the southern provinces of Angola that border Namibia. This region suffered especially during the war fought between SWAPO, today’s government in conjunction with a few Angolan liberation movements and the Russian supported Cubans against the American supported South Africans.
The biggest mine belt in the country is there, along with the greatest amount of rotting ammunition in all of Angola.
At the request of a long-time and great friend of MgM, the Governor Pedro Mutinde, MgM came to Kunene's provincial capital of Ondjiva in 1999. For MgM this was a kind of return home because 80% of our Angolan staff are from the local tribe of Kuanyama.
We received a large compound close to the airport and with American financing have established a camp with an elaborate workshop. Because the WFP - the World Food Program of the United Nations - has been transporting our materials and vehicles free of charge in their Hercules airplanes we have been able to operate from Ondjiva efficiently not only in Kunene Province but also in the rest of the country.
Again at the request of the Governor we have enlarged the workshop slightly so that we can train technicians there in the future.
Our great goal is to train the young Kuanjamas so that our own special machines and mine protected vehicles can be build there using war junk. Used tools and equipment, including laser guided welding machines, were donated by German companies.
Unique to this project in Angola is the fact that the provincial government took care of all import duties and the registration of our vehicle fleet and have also paid for the entire (and expensive) gasoline. Due to the proximity to the excellently organized Namibia (40 kilometres) the rest can be more efficiently managed than elsewhere in Angola.
In return, MgM has cleared 80 kilometres of road in the province, 5 kilometres of high power lines and three medium sized landing strips. The roads and landing strips were not just cleared of mines, they were also re-opened. MgM has also destroyed several ammunition depots and carried out Mine Awareness education in provincial schools.
Ondjiva is now - after Ambriz - also the location of our Mine Dog school. Not only are explosive detecting dogs (EDDs) trained here, but simultaneously their handlers, with excellent results.
In Kunene province there are roughly 800 kilometres of roads in and through the previous killing- fields of the cold war in Africa. These must be cleared if the province is to rebuild its infrastructure and local economy. And this is exactly what MgM intends to do - with your help.
We will report here about the way this project evolves.