Situated in the Chadian portion of the Sahara Desert, Kouba Olanga is the last water point for at least 300 kilometres in all directions.
Why does MAG work in Chad?
Chad is contaminated by landmines and other dangerous weapons as a result of 30 years of internal conflict and the 1973 Libyan invasion, when the first mines were laid.
By the end of 2007, the total number of recorded victims from mines and unexploded ordnance had reached 2,616 (1,142 fatalities and 1,474 injuries).
[Stats: Chad's National Demining Center]
This makes it a vital – in the strictest sense of the word – stopping-off point for the countless camel trains making their way across this part of the Sahara.
Kouba Olanga was also the sight of a major battle in 1984, during a largely unnoticed war between Libya and Chad.
Because of this. the town and its surroundings were littered with the explosive residue of war prior to MAG’s arrival, ranging in size from large artillery rockets to finger-sized fuses just big enough to blow off a human hand.
On 6 May, two MAG teams, aided by information collected from the local population, began clearing the dangerous items.
Starting from within the town and gradually working outwards, they removed and safely destroyed a total of 1,316 items of explosive ordnance, two anti-tank mines and 1,438 potentially fatal heavy machine gun rounds.
In the foreground, a PG-9 rocket, with assorted mortar bombs lined up behind it.
The area cleared included a key water point outside the town and a battlefield site constantly used by the mostly nomadic population of 2,000 to 3,000 people.
As far as the local population is aware, MAG is the only non-governmental organisation to have ever worked in Kouba Olanga.
MAG deminers using a large-loop detector near to Kouba Olanga.
[Photos: Sean Moorhouse / MAG]
22 May 2009