Apply to Join

Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions

by APOPO vzw
Play Video
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
HeroRAT Birthday Feast
HeroRAT Birthday Feast

From APOPO’s humble beginnings to our present day status as a global organization, APOPO is proud to celebrate 20 years of detecting two of the deadliest threats on the planet: landmines and tuberculosis.

The HeroRATs have helped clear over 106,000 landmines, identified over 12,000 TB-Positive patients who were missed by their clinics, and prevented almost 90,000 potential infections of tuberculosis – the world’s biggest infectious disease killer.

Where it all began

20 years ago Bart Weetjens, a product design ex-student from Antwerp University in Belgium, called his friend Christophe Cox and Mic Billet to tell them about an idea he’d had about training rats to find landmines, freeing nearby communities from terror and hardship. The project was presented to the Belgian Government who provided a feasibility grant in November 1997 and the APOPO project was born. APOPO and the HeroRATs have since been saving lives all over the world.

Harnessing the highly attuned sense of smell in the African giant pouched rat, APOPO has spent the last two decades training these affectionate rodents in detecting two of the deadliest threats on the planet: landmines and tuberculosis. Each gives off its own unique smell, undetectable to humans, something which the rats are able to quickly sniff out.

“This is a case where mother nature has built a detection system that, coupled with modern technology, can save lives in places where cost-effective and efficient tools aren’t readily accessible,”says Bart Weetjens, founder of APOPO. “There’s a powerful and life-saving alert system in the little noses of these rats. Even after 20 years of working with them, I’m still in awe of what they can do.”

Twenty years later, APOPO has now faced the landmine issue in seven countries, including Cambodia, Angola and, notably, Mozambique, where it played a key role in the country achieving ‘mine-free’ status in 2015.

 What Next?

APOPO is now looking at opportunities to eliminate landmines in former FARC territories in Colombia, where minimal-metal mines aren’t easily detected by metal detectors, and in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in Zimbabwe, where APOPO expects to soon begin work detecting mines along important migration routes for elephants, buffalo, lions and other protected wildlife. In addition, APOPO’s TB-detection programs are expanding in Tanzania and Mozambique and will soon be operational in Ethiopia. APOPO is also exploring using rats for search and rescue operations, particularly in collapsed buildings, and even in sniffing out brain disease.

The Next 20 Years

Twenty years after the Ottawa landmine treaty was signed, there is still work to be done. To this day, 58 countries are still plagued by as many as 110 million landmines buried in the ground. However, global financial support for mine clearance is declining, necessitating a faster way to find the landmines. APOPO’s goal is to become the go-to resource in accelerating the pace of landmine clearance as the world races to accomplish the Ottawa Treaty target of eliminating all landmines by 2025. In order to do this, APOPO’s HeroRATs could be the key to speeding up the decades long process.

Saving Lives Thanks to YOU

Thank you to our amazing donors. Whether you have been with us since the beginning, or are new to our community, we are proud to call you our supporter.

Bombs found in Mozambique
Bombs found in Mozambique
TB HeroRAT Chewa and Ethan
TB HeroRAT Chewa and Ethan
APOPO Co-Founder, Bart
APOPO Co-Founder, Bart

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Leila
Leila

We are proud to celebrate the 1st anniversary of APOPO’s TB Detection Facility in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar Es Salaam

Since 2017, APOPO offers fast innovative TB diagnostics with the help of African giant pouched rats, nicknamed HeroRATs. The rats can check 100 samples in around 20 minutes. This would take a lab technician up to four days. Across sites, APOPO HeroRATs have helped increase clinic detection rates by 40%.

In the past, APOPO transferred samples collected from collaborating clinics in Dar es Salaam to Morogoro. Due to the distance from Dar es Salaam, however, patients often dropped out of the system before the APOPO results could be delivered, and missed out on life saving TB treatment. With the new facility in the city, APOPO strived for same day testing of the samples and delivery of results within 24 hours so patients get them when they return to clinic for their standard results. A similar model has been previously implemented in Maputo, Mozambique.

HeroRATs Success Doubled

Our experience over the first year is striking: The number of collaborating clinics has increased from 24 to 41 and the monthly sample volume in Dar es Salaam has more than doubled to over 4,500 samples evaluated by the HeroRATs in October 2017. 24-hour result turnaround was achieved whenever samples could be made available by the clinics for collection. Most importantly, in the past months, more than 80% or 90% of the additional patients were successfully linked to care (compared to 70% in the previous year), receiving appropriate anti-TB treatment at the clinic.

This clearly highlights the role of good service delivery in achieving health benefits, and supports the need for holistic approaches linking case detection to care.

HeroRATs Saved My Life

Leila is 13 years old and lives in a small house in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. She suddenly developed a severe headache, high fever and extreme fatigue.

“I was unable to attend school and had to stay at home. The TB test at the hospital showed a negative result. My grandparents were anxious because we did not have a diagnosis.

Then, I was informed that my sputum sample had been retested in Morogoro by APOPO and found to be positive for tuberculosis. We were relieved to hear that my illness could finally be treated!

My grandmother could not believe that rats had detected the disease. The amazing HeroRATs also helped in diagnosing my brother and sister.”

 Please continue to support APOPO! More work needs to be done to help children like Leila. Tuberculosis remains the deadliest infectious disease – despite being curable and preventable. The WHO estimates that there were 10.4 million new cases worldwide in 2016, and over 1.7 million deaths, including 0.4 million among people with HIV. An estimated 4.1 million were never diagnosed or reported. A gap we are contributing to close in our sites of operations.

Lena Fiebig,  APOPO Head of TB
Lena Fiebig, APOPO Head of TB
Celebrating a year of success
Celebrating a year of success
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

It’s the dawn of a new era for Zimbabwe, following an incredibly peaceful end to the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe.  APOPO is proud to support the new Zimbabwe by helping to clear its lethal landmines. These landmines are located in the heart of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), the largest conservation area in the world, where not only communities, but also many endangered species such as elephants, lions, wild dogs and many more are affected by the land mines.

The GLTP includes three iconic National Parks (NP) spanning three countries; Kruger NP in South Africa; Limpopo NP in Mozambique; Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe. APOPO’s minefield is found in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor, a specifically designated area aimed at allowing free movement of wildlife between Kruger NP and Gonarezhou NP. The minefield runs for 37km with one of the highest landmine densities in the world (about 5,500 mines per km), causing a serious threat to already endangered wildlife and communities living in the area.

HeroRATs Helping Elephants

Gonarezhou NP boasts a population of over 11,000 African elephants, one of the largest in Africa. Kruger NP also has a similar sized population. Given the general continental decline of the African elephant, it is paramount for the long-term wellbeing of the species that these two healthy populations have safe access to interaction.

HeroRATs Re-Building Lives

The landmines also scare away safari operators and lucrative, conservation-focused ecotourism. Kruger NP receives a massive influx of tourists (over 1,600,000 a year), which could potentially travel up the Sengwe Corridor and into Gonarezhou without requiring a visa or leaving the conservation area. Currently Gonarezhou receives virtually no international tourists. If even a small fraction of the Kruger tourists made it to Gonarezhou NP, the economic implications for Zimbabwe would be significant

 APOPO feels privileged to be here during this historic transition and wishes to play a role in the creation of a safer and more prosperous Zimbabwe. We are currently fundraising to be able to commence our demining operation in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor early next year.

Please help us to reach our goal! 

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Sophea, APOPO Rat Handler
Sophea, APOPO Rat Handler

For the first time since the end of the civil war, the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) recorded no casualties in Cambodia for a whole month. The first half of this year has also shown a drop in 40% of deaths and injuries from old landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) compared to the same period last year.

It is unheard of that since CMAA began recording incidents in 1979, that there has been a whole month free from casualties. This is a very encouraging sign and APOPO and partner CMAC are thrilled that the impact of our work in Cambodia becomes evident in ways like this.

“Seeing the rats finding the landmines so quickly is amazing! We work on zones the size of a tennis court, and they take about 30 minutes to check it. This could take me up to four days with a metal detector because of all the false alarms from scrap metal, which of course we have to check in case they are actually landmines." says Sophea,  one of the APOPO Rat handlers.

HeroRATs Saving Lives

Used as a unique add-on to conventional detection methods, APOPOs Mine Detection Rats are proven to significantly speed up conventional landmine detection methods and return safe land to vulnerable communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

This life-saving work must continue

Cambodia is one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world, the result of 3 decades of conflict which persisted until the late 1990’s.  The impact of these weapons is long lasting and devastating. Landmines keep people poor and their presence stands in the way of socio-economic growth for communities living in contaminated environments. Mines prevent access to land for agriculture, resettlement and other infrastructure developments such as roads, schools and water catchment ponds.

Removing mines is therefore essential for the lives and livelihoods of the Cambodian population.

You’re Saving Lives

Your donation has led to this amazing accomplishment and we are incredibly appreciative.  Of course, there is a lot more work to be done to rid the country of landmines completely,  but together with our HeroRATs and your support, we will get there faster!

Thank you.

Brave HeroRAT saving lives in Cambodia
Brave HeroRAT saving lives in Cambodia
Our brave staff in Cambodia
Our brave staff in Cambodia
Cambodian HeroRAT
Cambodian HeroRAT
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Chun and his family
Chun and his family

Cambodia is one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world, the result of 3 decades of conflict which persisted until the late 1990’s.  The impact of these weapons is long lasting and devastating. Landmines keep people poor and their presence stands in the way of socio-economic growth for communities living in contaminated environments. Mines prevent access to land for agriculture, resettlement and other infrastructure developments such as roads, schools and water catchment ponds.

Removing mines is therefore essential for the lives and livelihoods of the Cambodian population.

Sadly, for many people in Cambodia, living with the threat of landmines is a daily occurrence. Over 64,000 landmine and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979. With over 25,000 amputees, Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world.

APOPO along with local partner the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) is conducting humanitarian landmine clearance projects in Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap Provinces targeting the most mine-affected villages in order to return mine-free land back to communities where it makes the biggest impact.

 Chun’s Story

Chun is a farmer with eight children. He has worked his farm the whole of his life.

During the war we endured many battles near and on our land. It was a very frightening time. There were soldiers everywhere, either resting or fighting. We saw things we would like to forget.

When the war finished it became peaceful for us and all the other families in the area. But our land was not the same. There were unexploded bombs in our field. Many were lying on the ground, but lots were hidden in undergrowth or under the earth. It was very dangerous but we had to keep working in the fields to feed ourselves. I was so terrified for my children. I forbade them to go to the fields, but the explosives are everywhere. What if they stood on a landmine or picked up an old bomb?

For many people like Chun, it is not just the fear of standing on a landmine, but the financial impact often shared throughout the community.

We have lived like this for a long time and there are accidents in the community. We have lost a lot of our precious livestock, which puts us in big financial trouble. Sometimes someone gets hurt. This is terrible for the family and the community as a whole.  The family is thrown into financial crisis especially if the person injured is a worker or head of the family. The community meanwhile gets terrified all over again.

 Thanks to your support, help came

Six months ago APOPO and CMAC arrived with what they called an ‘EOD’ team and they called everyone together to explain how they can help. EOD means ‘Explosive Ordnance Disposal’. They showed us pictures of what old bombs, bullets and landmines look like and explained that if we find them, we should immediately stop what we are doing, move everyone away and call them. Then they will come and remove the dangerous item. We were very happy about this and almost immediately we started calling them. They were run off their feet!

One Less Bomb to Hurt my Family

I myself had not called them until today. My daughter Charya was climbing a tree and she noticed something sticking out of the earth. She ran to get me and I left her at home and went to see. It looked very suspicious.

I called the EOD team and they arrived straight away. They told us to stay away and they went to the tree. They found an old mortar bomb and they used metal detectors to check all around the spot in case there was more.

The Team Leader told me that long ago a farmer must have found it in a field and moved it away under the tree out of his way. It could have blown up in his hands, but in those days there was no EOD team!

All the nearby families had come to see what was happening and the EOD team gave us all another safety lesson. Everyone is scared again! But at least that is one more dangerous bomb off my land. One less bomb to hurt my family.

 We all want to rid our land of landmines as soon as possible and together with our HeroRATs we will get there faster!

 Thank you for your support.

 

Chun's Daughter
Chun's Daughter
Handing Land Back
Handing Land Back
Education
Education

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

APOPO vzw

Location: Morogoro, Tanzania - Tanzania, United Republic of
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HeroRATs
Project Leader:
Emma McEachan
Morogoro, Tanzania, United Republic of
$519,505 raised of $750,000 goal
 
10,025 donations
$230,495 to go
Donate Now Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.