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May 1, 2018

New Seedlings for Choma and Kisosa

Working together to offset carbon.
Working together to offset carbon.

To become carbon neutral, APOPO needs to sequestrate carbon equal to 2000 planted trees a year. Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), in partnership with APOPO, developed a programme designed to empower farmers to develop their own food forests.

It’s design guarantees that each involved farmer chooses a minimum of 5 tree species which will be later planted on his or her plot. All farmers are trained in tree nursery establishment and all planted trees are from their own prepared nurseries.

News from the field:

In the first quarter of 2018 all 5 HeroTREEs groups gathered in Ruvuma, Tanzania to witness the first payment for carbon offsetting to 50 heroes. These 50 heroes from Mgambazi, Tulo and Ruvuma were each paid a share of 2,352,450 TZS in recognition of planting and caretaking some 3282 HeroTREEs on their land in 2017; each farmer was paid on the basis of the type and number of trees they were able to plant and manage.

The hard work continued into the early months of 2018 with a total of 1422 seedlings of the Acrocarpus, Albezia and Cedrela species being transplanted into farmers' fields in Choma and Kisosa. 

We received appreciation for our work, carried out in partnership with SAT, and farmers were more determined than ever to plant more trees in 2018. The chairman of Choma Street, who is also one of our HeroTREEs farmers, said:

We have never witnessed something like this in the Ulugulu Mountains; being provided with support to establish trees for our benefit and receiving payment for their establishment and caretaking -  this provides big motivation for our group in Choma to plant as many trees as we can.

Thank you for your support!

The forests of the Uluguru Mountains are of critical importance to indigenous village communities, the cities of Morogoro and Dar es Salaam, and the survival of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Furthermore, the project area is of vital importance to for Morogoro city's water supply.

On behalf of the communities involved, please keep supporting this vital work.

1422 seedlings for Choma and Kisosa.
1422 seedlings for Choma and Kisosa.
Abdalla takes care of the seedlings.
Abdalla takes care of the seedlings.
Apr 11, 2018

Ratticus Finch - A Field Update

Ratticus Finch hard at work.
Ratticus Finch hard at work.

It's time for your HeroRAT update!

Ratticus Finch continues to do well in the field with some great numbers for March 2018. 

In the month of March 2018, Ratticus Finch cleared a whopping 3280 square meters of land in 19 days. Working a total of 493 minutes across the month, Ratticus Finch found 3 anti-personnel mines and 2 items of unexploded ordnance.

In her down time, Ratticus received a HeroRAT health check by one of our specialist team members in addition to a favourite treat - banana!

Thanks to the incredible work by Ratticus Finch, we were able to hand back more land to local communities. We're also able to continue to protect the lives of local inhabitants, people like Lann, a former soldier who lost part of his leg to an unexploded mine.

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LANN'S STORY

"I am Lann and I am a farmer at Khnar Phtuol, near Siem Reap. Twenty-five years ago I was a soldier defending our village against the Khmer Rouge. One day whilst on patrol I stood on a landmine that the Khmer Rouge had laid. I heard a loud crack and I fell over, then my comrades were shouting and screaming above me before I blacked out. I woke up in the hospital to find that I had lost my lower right leg. I was devastated.

For some years I was recovering. Not just physically but mentally. To lose a leg is no easy thing, especially when you need to be strong and physical for a living. Worse, the landmines were still lying hidden around my home and the fields of the community. We were terrified.

Eventually I met my wife and started a family, and they gave me something to work for. I learned better how to cope with only one leg, and a local charity gave me good crutches. I was able to farm well; I could plant rice, cut wood, and harvest the crops. But the landmines were still there, and my kids were growing up. They began helping with work, and playing in the fields. We knew the dangers but what could we do? We had to survive. Accidents happened. A child in our community lost an eye when he found an old bullet and began to polish it and it exploded. And we lost many of our precious cows and goats to landmines.

"Then we heard about an organization called The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) who were clearing away the landmines and slowly working their way towards us. We were so happy about this and couldn’t wait for them to arrive. To our surprise, they turned up with a team of rats that they said would help find the landmines for them so they could get the mines out of the ground and destroy them. They said they were called ‘HeroRats’ and they were trained by their partner APOPO. 

Those rats scuttled about, sniffing here and there, and then they would stop, smell the air, and then scratch the ground. That means they found a landmine! CMAC said that the rats were fast and had really speeded up their work. So together CMAC and APOPO had helped many communities. Less than two weeks later, our fields were free of landmines. Our kids were safe, our fields full of growing crops. We need to give all our thanks to CMAC, APOPO and those speedy HeroRATs!"

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Thank you for your incredible support for work and keep an eye out for future updates about Ratticus Finch!

Inspecting a mine found by Ratticus Finch.
Inspecting a mine found by Ratticus Finch.
Lann lost a leg by standing on a mine.
Lann lost a leg by standing on a mine.
Apr 4, 2018

INTERNATIONAL LANDMINE AWARENESS DAY 2018

Every day, thousands of deminers around the world risk their lives when clearing landmines in an effort to help the communities who live in terror of these insidious, hidden weapons. For deminers, International Landmine Awareness Day is just a regular day, no different to any other day on the minefield. For APOPO, this day is an opportunity to highlight their courage, to raise awareness of the landmine issue, and to celebrate what has so far been achieved, whilst keeping in context the hard work that remains to be done. The focus this year for landmine awareness day is on protectionpeace and development.

Protection
Despite mine action efforts around the world, people are regularly killed and maimed from landmines and other leftover explosives. Children are at risk by playing near their houses or travelling op school, their parents overcome terror every day to work their land and provide for their family. Mine Action is about protecting people and their livelihoods from weapons that were laid for reasons that had mostly nothing to do with them in the first place. Yet, it is the local communities who now bear the brunt of these forgotten, hidden killers.

APOPO, through its mine detection rats, is committed to clearing landmines and releasing land at an accelerated pace, helping to protecting more people and ensuring that children can grow up in a safe environment. Yet the need for protection against landmines is not unique to humans. Mines are also found in isolated areas where endangered wildlife roams, such as along the border between South West Zimbabwe and Mozambique. APOPO’s program there is located in a wildlife corridor and designated conservation area, and aims to protect elephants lion and other animals as they move from one protected area to another.

Peace building
The road to peace is shorter when there is hope for improvement and normalisation of life. Clearing mines is an integrated element of building lasting peace and stability after war by returning safe, productive land to communities who for decades have been crammed together on land whose agricultural fertility steadily deteriorates with over-farming, whilst space for development and expansion is unavailable.

Preconditions for peace also require peace building initiatives, including safe movement of peacekeepers and aid workers, along with distribution of humanitarian aid. The presence of landmines can severely inhibit these efforts leaving communities even isolated and sometimes lawless.

Development
The presence of landmines and ERW will always impede development in one way or another, yet the full implications of landmine contamination on a country are often little known, poorly understood, badly documented and wholly underrated. Rural communities may be prevented from cultivation of land and herding their livestock, thus triggering reliance of humanitarian aid. Development initiatives themselves are often hemmed in and hampered, preventing sustainable development and prolonging dependency of such aid. Rehabilitation of infrastructure can be similarly restricted, preventing economic growth and provision of basic services.

Clearing the landmines allows settlement into new areas in contrast to prolonged urbanisation because of war. Angola is an example of a country where migration of people from excess urbanised areas into rural areas is hampered because of landmines.

What we can do
The Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) has adapted the goal to “accomplish all outstanding obligations under the Convention, to the fullest extent possible, by 2025”. This is for the most part achievable if states, donors and mine action organisations give it the priority it deserves and continue with current or probably higher levels of funding. APOPO has for 20 years developed and improved the use of animals for landmine detection. Our efforts ensure more expedient protection of civilians and animals and support peace building and development in mine affected areas. Integrated Mine Detection Rats teams can triple the overall efficiency of a land release process compared manual mine clearance used alone. Through partnership with other mine action organisations, we can ensure a much wider deployment of rats into more mine affected countries.

Our goal is to help vulnerable groups in mine affected countries. We have been successful in doing this in Mozambique, Angola and Cambodia and we strive to expand our efforts into Zimbabwe and Colombia. We have also deployed animals in South Sudan and with partners, we could further expand into more mine affected countries and territories. The International Mine Action day is also the occasion to honour field staff of APOPO and all other mine action organisations who daily risk their lives to achieve our shared goal. The work of these people may not be easily noticed but is greatly appreciated.

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APOPO thanks partners and donors across the countries in which it works for their continued support

 
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