Working in partnership is central to MAG’s approach, ensuring a lasting and sustainable impact from our activities, whether it’s cleared ground being used effectively or our expertise being passed on to others.
In the past, working in partnership has been fundamental in achieving greater impact in areas far beyond the formal definitions of landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance. These range from national capacity development to emergency response, post-conflict infrastructure and rebuilding projects.
The link with development varies considerably within MAG’s programme areas. Each response must be tailored to those requirements. In South East Asia, the main focus tends to be on longer-term development goals. Predominantly rural communities suffer from a complex web of interlinked vulnerabilities and a co-ordinated approach is necessary to maximise impact. As a result, a number of projects have been undertaken in this region in conjunction with local and international development agencies.
|Laos: A fisherman sits on a disarmed bomb to clean his catch. MAG teams cleared land here in partnership with CARE to develop fishponds in huge bomb craters
These partnerships allow MAG to prioritise tasks where post-clearance development activities have been identified and verified. Such partnerships have facilitated the building and renovation of schools, the improvement of water supply and irrigation, and the provision of cleared land for housing and health facilities as well as land for agriculture.
In Cambodia, MAG has developed long-standing partnerships with CARE, World Vision, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Church World Services (CWS). In each of these partnerships, MAG’s innovative locality demining model is used. The model involves the recruitment of deminers from the community in which they are deployed. This means that MAG recruits deminers from vulnerable and affected groups in the community, providing them with lasting transferable skills. The local economy also benefits from the expenditure of wages within the target village community.
This unique approach is especially appropriate since each of the integrated development projects MAG works with emphasises a grassroots approach, with decisions being made by village development committees. As such, the locality demining model is ideal. It allows participation, providing the community with a sense of control over activities and a sense of ownership of the project.
| Cambodia: deminers are recruited from the community in which they are deployed
MAG will provide the necessary input for developing irrigation systems and dry season rice production as well as working with local communities and undertaking a market analysis to identify other appropriate crops. Triangle GH will also provide the necessary input to ensure the successful cultivation and marketing of these crops, maximising existing knowledge and methodologies and providing opportunities to enter into an emerging market in Laos.
MAG is also working with the World Food Programme in Khammouane and is planning co-operation with the International Relief and Development (IRD) agency on the project site, which focuses on the nutrition and health of school-age children. MAG will provide clearance support to ensure that the schools are safe from UXO.
One of MAG’s main challenges in 2007 is to formulate an effective response to the dangers of scrap metal collection. In Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, this is one of the main causes of UXO-related deaths and injuries and it is likely that the trade will increase in other contaminated countries. For many individuals, the rewards will continue to outweigh the risks, accidents will continue to rise and conventional approaches are unlikely to have an impact.
A partnership being developed in Vietnam could potentially help provide a solution to this dilemma and reach a wider range of communities through a variety of channels, thus increasing the possibility of changing social behaviour. In Vietnam, MAG has been working on a new concept, together with Catholic Relief Services and Handicap International, which brings together school and community based risk education, livelihood training for vulnerable at risk groups, and targeted mobile UXO and landmine clearance.
|Vietnam: unexploded ordnance is often collected as scrap metal by local people. One of MAG's main challenges is to respond effectively to the dangers of this
Our work with development agencies is just one link in a continuous chain of co-operation and partnership that forms an essential part of MAG’s progressive approach. Partnering with development agencies is one way to ensure that our work has the most impact on at-risk communities, and is enhanced by information gathering activities undertaken by MAG’s community liaison teams. These teams work closely with regional government and local communities so that tasks selected for clearance are appropriate to the community needs and have an impact that reaches beyond just clearance.
These priorities are then dovetailed with national objectives, national and international NGOs, national and regional governments and United Nations agencies.
Our partners also benefit from knowing which areas will be cleared and when this will occur. By working in partnership with development agencies, the benefits of cleared land are evenly distributed amongst the most at-risk communities. Each country and situation represents complex challenges that underline the need to link MAG’s operations with other activities.
The synergy results in a better use of resources and a more holistic approach, maximises the humanitarian benefit of MAG’s work and has already led to the development of innovative new methodologies that add further value to partnership achievements.
6 November 2007