Another year has almost passed and my, what a year.
Thanks to your support we’ve been able to achieve so much and positively affect so many people across the world. Let’s take a nostalgic few moments to review some key moments from 2019.
On January 16th, 2019 we, alongside our partner Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC), were thrilled to announce the completion of a minefield in Dai Ao village of the Sre Noi Commune in Varin District. A handover ceremony was held to release 520,257 square meters of land back to the community.
In February 2019 we reached a landmark - 250,000 patients with signs and symptoms of tuberculosis (TB) retested since the TB programme began in 2007. "Our experiences from Mozambique and Tanzania show that it takes both speedy testing and community health worker support to make ‘Find & Treat’ come true for more and more patients.” - Dr Lena Fiebig, APOPO Head of Tuberculosis
In March 2019 we celebrated World TB Day - a day which educates the public on the massive burden caused by TB globally and calls on governments, civil society organizations, communities and others to step up efforts to jointly end TB.
In April 2019 we celebrated International Landmine Awareness Day reflecting upon our work and celebrating the achievements of our staff, partners, and landmine detection animals. We also welcomed 10 new landmine detection HeroRATs to their new home in Cambodia (thanks to the support of the People's Postcode Lottery) providing much-needed capacity to operations in Cambodia.
In May 2019 three HeroRATs moved to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa act as ambassadors for our work and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations
In June and July 2019 a video about our work developed by the South China Morning Post (SPMC) received over half a million views, furthering the knowledge of our work and impact throughout the world.
On August 5th, 2019 our TB detection team in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania was happy to host Second Secretary Kim Wilkinson from the Australian High Commission in Kenya at our Tuberculosis (TB) laboratory in Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania. The Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Program (DAP) supported APOPO from January 2018 through July 2019 and the DAP grant allowed us to train six new young African giant pouched rats for our TB Detection program.
In September 2019 our very own Dr Georgies Mgode attended workshop titled 'Beyond the standard: Non-model vertebrates in biomedicine' in Berlin, Germany, where researchers from more than 20 countries gathered to share their experiences. Dr Mgode shared research experiences presenting African giant pouched rats and olfactory based medical application.
In October 2019 24 landmine detection rats boarded their first international flight for Cambodia. The rats arrived safely on Wednesday, October 23rd, raising the number of rats in our Cambodia program to 50.
On November 29th, 2019 we held a handover ceremony with residents of Trapeang Krasang, in Siem Reap Province, releasing 788,257 square meters of land that were cleared during August, September and October 2019 with over 170 anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) found and destroyed. The land was delivered back to 19 families from the village.
On December 10th, 2019 we celebrated Human Rights Day 2019 reflecting on the fact that human rights should be enjoyed by everyone. We took time to remember that our work is connected to human rights because landmines deprive thousands of people of their fundamental rights, such as safety, security and freedom of movement.
The above is just a snapshot of all of the things we've been able to achieve, contribute to, and celebrate throughout 2019. It's thanks to your support that we're able to continue our fight against landmines and tuberculosis, whilst continuing valuable research and development into projects for the future.
As 2019 draws to a close, here's to 2020. Here's to working together to changes the lives of beneficiaries across the world.
We wish you a very Happy New Year to you, your family, and your friends.
Hello and thank you for your continued support. We're delighted to bring you the following update on Q3 of 2019 which has certainly been busy for humans and HeroRATs alike!
APOPO's HeroRATs make it in America
In July 2019 we were thrilled to introduce three very important ambassadors who travelled all the way from Tanzania to the United States - more specifically - to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which was the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations.
HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa took three flights to get to their new home at Tacoma, Washington in May. Before leaving they received all their vaccinations, and the long journey from Africa to America was broken up into shorter segments with regular checks along the way. They travelled thousands of miles away from home and took it all in stride. Yet again, the HeroRATs showed us how resilient they are as a species.
After getting ample time to rest up in quarantine under close monitoring from Zoo veterinarians, the rats were introduced to their new homes and their zoo caretakers. Once they were comfortable with the team and happy in their environment they were gradually introduced to short training sessions for their mock landmine training demonstration routines before having their debut in front of zoo visitors on July 20th.
Cultural Celebrations in Tanzania
The first week of August brought a celebration of agriculture in Tanzania and APOPO participated alongside partner the Sokoine University of Agriculture. The week celebrated important contributions from farmers to the Tanzanian economy and showcases new technologies, ideas, discoveries and alternative solutions that will help to improve the agricultural sector. Companies, NGOs, farmers, regional and local officials as well as the general public are drawn to see the latest developments and opportunities. The HeroRATs attracted a lot of attention and shone a spotlight on the lifesaving work APOPO does.
In Tanzania, rats are generally considered a destructive pest, ruining crops and getting into food stores. In fact, most farmers will usually try to get rid of them when found on their land. It’s always good to have the opportunity to show people that rats are intelligent creatures that are very capable of saving lives. The exhibition allowed APOPO to inform local communities about the rats, but also the issues they are helping to solve such as the fight to end tuberculosis (TB) and breaking the stigma that is associated with the disease. Highlights were a visit from the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Japhet Hasunga and also the Acting Regional Medical Officer of Simiyu Dr. Maeka who expressed great interest in our TB detection research.
APOPO presents HeroRATs at CITES Conference
Between 17-28 August 2019, our partner Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa and APOPO attended the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference in Geneva, Switzerland. CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The objective of the Convention is to conserve wildlife and prevent international trade from pushing species into extinction.
APOPO established a partnership with the EWT in 2016 to collaborate on a proof-of-concept research study to examine the abilities of the HeroRATs to detect the world’s most widely trafficked mammal, pangolin, as well as illegally logged and trafficked African hardwood. APOPO has finished the first phase of the study successfully showing that the rats are not only able to sniff out pangolin scales and hardwood but that they can differentiate them from common masking items.
With international momentum to tackle illegal wildlife trade continuing to grow, over 2200 participants met at the world’s most important wildlife trade meeting – the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES). APOPO’s Dr Miriam Schneider travelled to Geneva to attend the conference and was given the unique opportunity to present the findings of the study at a side event of the conference: “Harnessing tools and technologies for wildlife law enforcement”.
Dr Schneider was able to promote APOPO’s work on a broad international platform and gain a better grasp of the current situation and developments in the wildlife trade. It also offered a chance to network with wildlife law enforcement officials and NGOs that could help to decide possible future methods for the rats to combat trafficking in real-life settings.
Little by Little Successes
In September 2019 we participated in Global Giving's Little by Little campaign which saw an outpouring of donations via the platform. Our incredible donors raised us to pole position where we stayed until closing which meant we won an additional $4,000 in bonus payments from Global Giving meaning the total amount raised was $21,635! We cannot thank you enough for the generous donations received, all of which will go towards funding the lifesaving work we carry out on a daily basis.
Thank you for being wonderful supporters.
As we referenced in our last project update, Global Giving's July Bonus Day TODAY and we wanted to remind you of the opportunity to make your donation count for more, without any extra cost to you.
For TODAY ONLY from 09:00:00 ET to 23:59:59 ET your eligible donations from $100 to $1000 will be matched whilst $250,000 in matching funds remain.
Your donations through Global Giving go directly towards supporting our HeroRATs as they carry out their lifesaving missions across the world. With so many countries still facing the threat of landmines and tuberculosis, your continued support is of great importance to us as we continue our fight against these indiscriminate killers.
The work you fund goes to support people like Historia and you can read her story below:
"I remember growing up during the war. Those were terrifying times, so much violence, hatred, death, and destruction. I thought it would never end. When it was over in 2002 all we wanted was to return to normality. Instead, we found we could not go home because the land was not safe. Landmines were buried by the Angolan Armed Forces to defend the village of Quitexe. Paths, roads, fields and bridges had been mined. You’d think war was painful enough, so many people lost everything. Yet we continued living in fear of injury or death from a landmine or losing crucial livestock.
I am thankful for the work that APOPO and the HeroRATs have done. This community is finally safe. I am really happy and excited. Children play and go to school freely without us having to worry all the time. Safe access to the village also means more traders will come, allowing us to sell produce at good prices. I know that the future will be bright for us. Life in Quitexe is returning to normal. I hope that my youngest child will grow up not even knowing what a landmine is.”
On behalf of Historia, and all of us here at APOPO, thank you for your incredible support.
Another busy quarter has passed us by and we're delighted to bring you the following update.
This quarter was an exciting time as we celebrated not only International Landmine Awareness Day but also the accreditation of 9 new Mine Detection Rats for Cambodia. The rats arrived from Tanzania at the end of April and were warmly welcomed by the Cambodian team.
The HeroRATs went through an intensive 6-week acclimatization and training period. This involved getting used to new sights, sounds and smells as well as getting to know their new Cambodian handlers and vice versa.
On June 12th-13th APOPO hosted representatives from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) Headquarters, our long-term implementation partner in Cambodia, for external double-blind testing of the freshly trained and newly imported MDR. The two days of testing were held on a test minefield prepared by the CMAC representatives.
The accreditation is “double-blind” because both rats and the handlers are unaware of where the targets are buried, which are known only to the representatives who had them marked on a map. Each of the rats had to search a box of 200 square metres, and all of them correctly indicated the targets within a one-meter radius, with not a single one missed. This reflects the high level of mine detection skill of the MDR and their handlers as well as the quality of the breeding and training at APOPO’s Headquarters and training centre in Morogoro, Tanzania.
In March we celebrated World Tuberculosis Day with a theme of 'It's Time'.
We took a moment to consider how APOPO researches TB detection rats which are incredibly fast: one rat can screen 100 samples in just 20 minutes. We use our rapid rats as a “failsafe” – re-evaluating human sputum samples delivered from partner clinics. A sample indicated positive by a rat undergoes confirmation testing with internationally approved tests before the result is returned to the clinic. This approach helps to increase TB case detection by about 40%.
We also considered our other activities which are also very much centred around speeding things up: our motorbike sample referral systems in Dar es Salaam, Maputo and Addis Ababa, our rapid testing and result turnaround within 24 hours and prompt action to make sure newly diagnosed patients get on with their TB treatment immediately. Beyond that, a new study has started to find out whether our TB detection rats can identify TB earlier than conventional methods.
As always, it's with your incredible, ongoing support that we and our HeroRATs are able to continue in their missions. Your support allows us to look to the future and develop new humanitarian applications for the rats’ powerful sense of smell.
With the future in mind, Global Giving's July 18th Bonus Day is fast approaching and we'll be participating - we hope you can too.
On 18th July ONLY Global Giving will be matching donations from $100 to $1,000 whilst $130,000 in matching funds remain. The higher your donation, the higher the match!
We'll also be participating in Global Giving's August Little by Little campaign from 12th to 16th August and where smaller donations up to $50 will be matched at 50% and higher. More on that to follow!
From all of us here at APOPO - thank you for your support.
The start to the 2019 year has been a successful one for us here at APOPO as we continue in our fight against landmines and tuberculosis (TB), with your incredible support. With World TB Day already under our belt and International Landmine Awareness Day still to come this April 4th, we have been able to take time out to review the successes of 2018 and 2019, so far.
Landmine Detection Cambodia
In 2018 APOPO Cambodia began working in two provinces concurrently, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) to commence an additional mine clearance project in Preah Vihear province, running in parallel with our Siem Reap operations. Our work was further boosted in late 2018 through a renewed MoU for the continuation of our landmine detection rat and Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) clearance operations in Siem Reap for 2019.
About half of Cambodia’s minefields have been cleared and yet it still remains one of the most heavily impacted countries in the world. Leftover landmines and explosives from conflict are still a major hindrance to the social and economic development of the country. They block access to fertile land for agriculture, water sources, and travel routes, and isolate communities from health services. With among the highest number of landmine victims across the globe, the remaining threat imposes financial and emotional burdens on families needing to care for a landmine survivor.
Our renewed MoU with CMAC means we will be able to continue to work to clear land for local communities. CMAC has been integrating our Landmine Detection Rats into its programs since 2015 and we have achieved remarkable results; there is hope that this continuing partnership will enable the clearance of over 1,500,000 square metres in 2019.
Landmine Detection Angola
Since beginning our work in Angola in 2012 APOPO has helped our partner, Norwegian People’s Aid, to find and destroy landmines and other explosive remnants of war, releasing over 1.1 million m2 of safe area and helping thousands of people back on their land.
In 2018 our work continued as we welcomed a further 16 Landmine Detection Rats to our Angola operations to further bolster capacity. All 16 rats took the long journey from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, arriving successfully in Uíge province, Angola having undertaken, and passed, independent testing by our partner, the National Intersectoral Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH).
Further good news came in the form of a continuation of support from the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, an important partner of our work in Angola since 2017. With their continued support, and the increased capacity from 16 new Landmine Detection Rats, we were able to continue our work to provide a landmine-free Angola to its people by 2025 in accordance with Article 5 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC).
Despite the work already carried out, Angola remains blighted by large swathes of land contaminated by landmines and other explosive remnants of war with an estimated one-fifth of the population being affected. Our work must continue to make an impact to ensure local communities are provided with security, opening up opportunities for development, farming, and recreation without fear.
In February 2019, APOPO was delighted to be invited by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to share a case study on our TB detection program in the companion volume of the new SDG-themed “Leaving No One Behind” OECD Development Cooperation Report. We live in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 global goals were set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, succeeding the Millennium Development Goals, to collectively work towards “the future we want”.
APOPO clearly identifies with the SDG. With our tuberculosis (TB) detection program, we strive for Goal 3: ensuring good health and promoting well-being, and for making our contribution to target 3.3, to end the epidemics of tuberculosis (amongst other diseases) by 2030. APOPO researches TB detection rats which are incredibly fast: one rat can screen 100 samples in just 20 minutes. We use our rapid rats as a “failsafe” – re-evaluating human sputum samples delivered from partner clinics. A sample indicated positive by a rat undergoes confirmation testing with internationally approved tests before the result is returned to the clinic. This approach helps to increase TB case detection by about 40%.
By now, we have tested over half a million samples for TB, found more than 14,700 additional TB cases, and have joined forces with community partners to make sure that ‘Test’ also means ‘Treat’. In the last couple of years, partnering with community-based organizations have helped APOPO track down newly diagnosed TB patients in Tanzania and Mozambique and enable 80% of them to promptly start their TB treatment which usually involves the patient taking a combination of different TB drugs. If the correct drugs are taken for the entire duration of treatment, then for most patients this will cure the TB.
Our other activities in the field are also very much centred around speeding things up: our motorbike sample referral systems in Dar es Salaam, Maputo and Addis Ababa, our rapid testing and result turnaround within 24 hours and prompt action to make sure newly diagnosed patients get on with their TB treatment immediately. Beyond that, a new study has started to find out whether our TB detection rats can identify TB earlier than conventional methods.
In spite of our successes, much work remains to realise a world free of mines and TB. We are forging ahead through the course of 2019 with a renewed focus on the continuation of our efforts to bring good health, security, peace and the chance of development to the communities within which we work. With your continued support, we will be able to do so.
On that note, GlobalGiving's Little x Little campaign is fast approaching. Between 00:00hrs on April 8th through 23:59hrs on April 12th all eligible donations up to $50 will be matched at 50% at no extra cost to you. There will be $50,000 in matching funds available and we'd love you to help us by making your donation go further! Keep your eyes peeled for our further project appeal email on April 8th.
Thank you for your incredible support for our work.
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