How MAG is helping in Laos
Working across Xieng Khouang and Khammouane provinces since 1994, MAG has directly helped more than 700,000 people to live safer lives, free from danger and fear. Another 2.58 million men, women and children have benefitted indirectly.*
Our teams have cleared more than 52,000,000 square metres of land in Laos, removing and destroying more than 196,000 items of UXO, including nearly 73,000 cluster submunitions (or bombies).
In addition, MAG has given more than 2,600 risk education sessions to around 188,000 people, helping them to stay safe until land is cleared.
* All figures as of 30 November 2015.
What MAG is doing in Laos
Without the funds to clear every single piece of land, MAG assesses what difference UXO clearance will make to communities, targeting the land that will most benefit each community. We often work in partnership with development organisations to ensure that cleared land is used productively.
Our Community Liaison Teams consult with community members throughout the UXO clearance process.
Vegetation must usually be cleared before metal detectors can be used. Half-metre lanes are then marked on the ground and metal detectors are used to find the UXO hidden beneath the surface. All signals from the detector must be carefully investigated, with many readings being from shrapnel and other war scrap.
UXO must be correctly identified. Some types are designed to explode if moved or if an attempt is made to remove the fuse. Thousands of different types of ordnance, from several different countries, have been found in Laos. Most is destroyed in situ without disturbing it, but UXO that is found close to housing or other infrastructure is moved if it is safe to do so.
UXO is destroyed in controlled demolitions. Sandbags are placed around the UXO and a demolition is carried out only after all community members have been evacuated from the area.
BUILDING NATIONAL CAPACITY
We do all this by employing staff locally, trained and supervised by our technical experts, so that they can do the job in safety. Our aim is to build a safe and skilled local capacity to deal with areas affected by UXO.
INNOVATION AND VALUE FOR MONEY
Alongside the deployment of manual clearance teams, MAG implements innovative methodologies and technology, to ensure we deliver the best results and value for money.
MAG was the first organisation in Laos to permanently deploy mechanical assets to improve efficiency by clearing vegetation, preparing ground and assisting with excavations of large aircraft-dropped bombs.
Another recent innovation introduced by MAG is Evidence Point Polygon mapping. Here, historical operational data is analysed and used to identify and map areas contaminated by UXO without the need to deploy survey teams. This speeds up the survey and clearance process, releasing safe land to those who need it the most.
In addition to land release activities, MAG delivers risk education to the people most likely to be involved in accidents, such as children or scrap metal collectors. Risk education helps communities live as safely as possible in contaminated areas until the land can be cleared permanently.
In 2013, MAG conducted a study to investigate the impact of its work in Laos. It found that clearance led to a distinct improvement in welfare and economic status; that crop yields increased, leading to improved food security; and that, above all, people felt safer. These results reflect how MAG is making a sustainable difference in Laos.
Surviving the Peace: A film about devastation and hope. It follows a family in Laos whose lives were tragically altered by unexploded ordnance.
Freedom From Fear: Meet "MAT10" (Mine Action Team 10), one of MAG's all-female bomb clearance teams ridding Laos of deadly cluster bombs.
How to Destroy a 100lb Bomb: The removal and destruction of a white phosphorus bomb that was found in a rice field in Khammouane province.
Education For Life: Many areas of Laos are still contaminated by unexploded bombs that still pose the risk of exploding. Children are most at risk.