Every day, 19 people are killed or injured by landmines and unexploded bombs. These indiscriminate weapons devastate lives in more than a quarter of all countries in the world. And over half of all civilian casualties are children.

For families living in daily fear of landmines and unexploded bombs, risk education is a matter of life and death.

Risk education provides affected communities with potentially life-saving information on how to recognise, avoid and report threatsinformation that is vital for children and returning communities. 

Raising awareness of the threat and working directly with communities helps change behaviours, reducing the risk of death or injury. Someone’s ability to correctly identify a landmine or other explosive weapon could save their life.

The increase in the number of civilian casualties from landmines and unexploded bombs in recent years has driven demand for new and innovative ways to keep communities safe through risk education. At the same time, the Coronavirus pandemic has forced humanitarian organisations like MAG to adapt our approach and look for new solutions, in the face of new strict and necessary safety restrictions. 

MAG Senior Community Liaison Advisor, Sebastian Kasack, said:

“New approaches are crucial to trying to reach as many people as we can, especially in challenging environments. Using social media, for example, provides the opportunity to reach high numbers of people, including younger audiences which can be difficult to reach through 'traditional' means”. 

One of the risk education graphics being shared with Facebook users in Ninewa, northern Iraq.

Earlier this month, The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) launched a new report, “Review of New Technologies and Methodologies for EORE in Challenging Contexts”, that investigates promising new technologies and methodologies for delivering risk education across the mine action sector. 

The report features MAG’s pilot digital risk education project with Facebook and the US government which, last year, helped almost one million people in northern Iraq learn how to stay safe from the deadly legacy of recent conflicts.

MAG teams up with Facebook to reduce casualties from ISIS mines in Iraq

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The innovative project was the first time that risk education messaging was delivered on a large-scale using Facebook ads. The results were promising with ads shown 29 million times to 983,447 people in Ninewa Governorate. With 94 per cent of people surveyed in the community confirming they had seen the ads on Facebook and that the ads helped them understand the risks posed by explosive hazards.

Digital EORE (Explosive Ordnance Risk Education) Coordinator, Robin Toal, said:

“Social media provides a new way to engage with communities in a dynamic and cost-effective manner. It enables us to reach large numbers of people in a specific area, overcoming obstacles posed by security, geography and complex operating environments that limit the delivery of face-to-face risk education.”

“The ability to target people based on specific criteria will ensure that we reach the most at-risk communities as well groups that are harder to attract through ‘traditional’ face-to-face sessions such as youth and young adults”.