MAG Community Liaison Supervisor Evaristo Cambembe learns improved map-making techniques.
The mapping of dangerous areas is central to MAG’s work. Locating priority clearance areas – agricultural land, schools, roads and so on – is key to the efficiency and safety of the clearance process.
In order to improve map-making, MAG Angola has upgraded its geographical information systems (GIS) capacity with the help of specialist non-governmental organisation MapAction.
Funded by Adopt-a-Minefield, four members of MAG’s Angola staff undertook a 12-day summer course in Luena, Moxico Province – one of the most mine-affected provinces in the world.
They were taught by MapAction volunteers on how to import GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates into GIS, make maps of mined areas and how to calculate the size of areas precisely, and prepare maps for reporting purposes.
A member of MAG Angola's Community Liaison staff at a MapAction training exercise in Luena, Moxico province.
They also learnt how to create ‘buffers’ around communities to simulate community expansion and how to create maps of safe and unsafe roads.
Said MapAction’s Liesbeth Renders: “We’re here to work with MAG staff in improving their map-making.
"This will help them map the areas they’re currently working in and will make it easier to establish which areas should be priorities in the future, by allowing the combination of data from technical mine surveys with data from the affected community.
“This should make it possible to reduce the areas currently identified as mined so demining will be accurately targeted in the future.”
MAG Angola’s Community Liaison (CL) Supervisor Evaristo Cambembe said: “The training was fantastic. When we used to go to the field, it was difficult to get correct data and pass on accurate measurements and precise maps to the technical teams for clearance. We can now give them quality maps of suspect areas, which helps them in the planning of their activities.
“We can also make maps for reports and proposals, because a map can give you a very good overview of a situation and understand the seriousness of the mine problem in my country.”
Following the course, each of MAG Angola’s three CL teams received internal training on how to record tracks, project waypoints in an inaccessible area and using laser rangefinders.
“The new techniques with GPS and the rangefinder are helping us to do our work at a higher standard,” added Jinga Tiago, one of the CL team members. “This is important because it is giving us exact measurements and distances. Before it was very difficult to calculate the size and area of a minefield. The GIS programme is helping us give very precise information to the technical teams.”
While estimates vary, the country is generally considered to have approximately two landmines for every single person, and 2.4 million individuals are affected daily by the scourge.
18 September 2008