Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions

by APOPO vzw
TB Detection rat in action
TB Detection rat in action

Tuberculosis detection operations by trained sniffer rats began in Maputo, Mozambique in early 2013.  For the first phase of operations, eight HeroRATs will analyze over 560 samples of human sputum per week.  

The Mozambican staff and equipment are ready for the exciting start of APOPO’s new arm of TB operations.  Local staff from the country’s capital city of Maputo, have started working with the animals. The staff were trained at APOPO’s TB headquarters and research facility in Morogoro, Tanzania, by a team of senior lab technicians and animal handlers, before they were sent to work in the Maputo facility.

APOPO has partnered with eight local health centers in Mozambique which will provide the samples. The rats will then serve as second line screening for the centers, which check for TB under a microscope.  This is APOPO’s second location for TB operations and marks the first international expansion of the TB Program.   
Mozambique has a very high burden TB and co-infection, where a patient has both TB and HIV. It is often difficult to diagnose TB in HIV patients, and TB is a leading cause of death for people infected with HIV.  APOPO Mozambique TB Program Manager Emilio Valverde, “Mozambique withstands a terribly high burden of TB. This is particularly serious in HIV patients, accounting for a 16% of the Mozambican population. My personal hope is that APOPO rats can contribute to alleviate this burden in a short term."

APOPO the sole demining operator for the Gaza province has handed over a mine-free community to the government of Mozambique and Instituto Nacional de Desminagem (IND), the country’s national demining institute. This feat was accomplished a year before the deadline given to the social enterprise that researches, develops and implements detection rats technology for humanitarian purposes. (link to video on MDRs in Gaza)

For a country affected by remnants of a war that lasted 30 years, it had initially seemed like an uphill task to render Mozambique completely mine-free by 2014 according to the Mine Ban Treaty deadline. Now the clearance of the Gaza region has demonstrated that strong and collaborative efforts can indeed beget transformative and impactful results.

APOPO's strategic Gaza mine action program which started in 2008 has cleared over 6 million square meters of land in the province with a budget of just 5.5 million Euro. In its clearance efforts, the APOPO mine action team has found 2,393 landmines, 12,838 small arms and ammunition  and 922 UXO. 

Demining efforts in the last decade focused in the grossly-affected northern regions of Mozambique and several southern provinces such as Gaza fell through the cracks. Landmines posed a threat not only to the lives and safety of the people but also kept any development firmly away because of the ever-present danger of destruction.

APOPO formally declared the Gaza province free of all landmines and detonated the last three mines in December 2013 to commemorate the achievement and officially hand over the region to IND. Also present at the event were the Foreign Affairs Vice Minister for Government of Mozambique, Governor of the Gaza province, Country Representative of UNDP Mozambique, Diane Verstraeten, Chairperson of the APOPO Board, and the Belgian Ambassador to Mozambique 

Speaking on the event on behalf of HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium, the Belgian Ambassador said “Today is a day for celebration for not only Mozambique and its people, but also for the rest of the world. The country has set a shining example of how national priorities can be achieved with the right partnerships, sustained effort and, most importantly, sheer human intent.”

APOPO's Ladies Team

As the existing team of Mine Detection Rats continues to achieve bigger milestones in Mozambique, APOPO has sent an additional group of 15 HeroRATs to strengthen its Mine Action projects in the country. In Chokwe, where our landmine operations are based, the new rats are exploring the environment and getting familiar with their new trainers. These HeroRATs are now undergoing their formal training and preparation for accreditation by the National Institute of Demining. They will practice sniffing for buried mines in the field early every morning for about a month. Once they train hard and pass the accreditation exam, the HeroRATs will immediately start operation in a live minefield. APOPO's Mine Action Program in Mozambique also has a brand new all-ladies demining team recruited to contribute to equal opportunity and employment in the area. This highly motivated team wholly comprises of women hired from the local communities and all without prior demining experience. APOPO's ladies team has already started operations, removing hand grenades and POMZ mines from the Chokwe minefield in Southern Mozambique.

APOPO Angola
APOPO Angola

APOPO has partnered with Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) in Angola to provide 40 Mine Detection Rats (MDR) to support their mechanical flails in the Malanje Province. The APOPO MDR will significantly increase productivity of these machines and speed up the release of land back to the local communities.
The Belgian Government has provided funding for the next three years, and we have recruited an Angolan Project Manager as well as an Operations Coordinator to manage this project. In addition to this APOPO will also recruit and train 10 Angolan female MDR handlers. The 40 MDR for Angola are undergoing final training and testing in Morogoro and it is hoped to move them to Angola by September.
“This partnership with NPA in Angola is a remarkable opportunity for both organizations to combine their individual strengths to benefit the mine affected communities of a country synonymous with landmines.” TeKimiti Gilbert, Head of APOPO Mine Action.

Thanks from the HeroRAT team!
Thanks from the HeroRAT team!

ASANTE SANA (that's Swahili for: thank you very much)

As the new year begins, we hope that you had a peaceful, healthy and happy 2011. Because of the support and generosity of our friends around the world, APOPO and the HeroRATs can look back on the past year as one of our best years yet!

CLICK HERE to view the special video message we created to thank you for what you helped us to achieve in 2011.

Thanks to you and others like you, the HeroRATs have sniffed out over 700 landmines and returned more than 710,000 square meters of land back to the people of Mozambique. We’ve expanded the reach of APOPO Mine Action into South East Asia, with the launch of our combined Technical and Non-Technical Survey along the Thai-Cambodian border. And we rats are proving ourselves as a vital new diagnostic tool, every week increasing new TB case findings in Tanzania. We even intend to replicate the success of this program in Mozambique in 2012!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity and help of the GlobalGiving community. Your support has given many a HeroRAT the opportunity to relax in a shiny new kennel after a morning’s training session. It’s bought the plane ticket to Mozambique for Mine Detection Rats, ready to put their life-saving training to work in the minefields. And, of course, it’s thanks to your support that the HeroRATs’ cheeks are often full of our favorite rewards: sweet bananas and peanut treats!

So we would like to take this moment to thank you for believing in us in 2011, and for giving us something to celebrate. We look forward to sharing more life-saving adventures with you in 2012.

With gratitude,

The HeroRAT Team 



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Organization Information


Location: Morogoro, Tanzania - Tanzania, United Republic of
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Paul Delbar
Public Fundraising Manager
Morogoro, Tanzania, United Republic of

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