These people live with bombs - I watched them learn how to protect themselves

A young child at a Risk Reduction Education session in Ratanakiri

by Clare O'Reilly, Programme Officer, MAG

The Ratanakiri region of north-east Cambodia was so heavily bombed during the Vietnam War that an estimated 1.9 million to 5.8 million cluster munition remnants continue to threaten lives there.

Added to this problem are huge amounts of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from three decades of conflict.



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In 2013, MAG helped 110,000 people in Cambodia



People in Ratanakiri are mostly from the Tampuen, Kreung and Jarai indigenous communities. Most don’t speak any of the national language, Khmer, and have had limited access to education.

In September 2012, MAG and CARE Cambodia began a joint project to keep these marginalised communities safe from cluster munitions, UXO and landmines.

MAG trained CARE’s team in how to deliver Risk Reduction Education; then CARE staff taught one nominated person – a “community focal point” – in each of 40 villages in how to deliver these safety messages to vulnerable men, women and children.

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In 2013, I watched some of these Risk Reduction Education sessions being given in Kanong village. Residents were keen to engage in the process, to learn how to avoid dangers and how to report a suspicious item to the focal point (who will then contact MAG’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team). Each person seemed eager to take away their knowledge and spread the information among neighbours, friends and family members.

MAG and CARE also worked with the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to produce a new schoolbook designed to keep children safe.

Distributed to 9,900 children across 40 villages in Ratanakiri, the book focuses on telling the story of two children who find an item of UXO and the decisions they’re faced with, showing how to always make the safe choice.

The project is continuing in 2014 and, thanks to funding from Find A Better Way, 40 more villages – and thousands more people – will benefit.

A Risk Reduction Education session in Kanong village

Sal Pham, community focal point in Kanong, delivers his first Risk Reduction Education session.

Men receiving Risk Reduction Education

Men in Kanong look at images of the dangerous items they could encounter in the area.

A young child at a Risk Reduction Education session

A young child from the village gets a closer look at safety messages during a Risk Reduction Education session.

Photos: Clare O'Reilly/MAG

5 March 2014

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