Train Dogs to "Sniff Out" Landmines & Save Lives

by The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI)
Feb 7, 2013

Mine Detection Dogs - Saving Lives in Afghanistan

MDD Stryker "sniffs out" mines in Afghanistan
MDD Stryker "sniffs out" mines in Afghanistan

MLI has donated 183 Mine Detection Dogs to 11 war-torn countries around the world. Over the past five years, MLI has given 28 of these life-saving dogs to four indigenous demining organizations in Afghanistan, which has suffered from more than three decades of war and is one of the most heavily mine-affected countries in the world.  In 2012, these amazing dogs searched more than 550 acres of land, impacting tens of thousands of lives, and saving countless people and animals from death or injury.

MLI's focus is on building practical, sustainable, indigenous programs, and so we always partner with local organizations when working in a mine-affected country.  In Afghanistan, the demining organization, DAFA, has received nine of MLI's mine detection dogs.  DAFA recently shared some stories they collected from a number of Afghan villagers who described how much the MDDs have impacted their lives.  The villagers explained that in their district of Deh Sabz, the primary source of income for individuals is agriculture, but severe droughts often make that a difficult livelihood.  Because of that, they had resorted to working for a low daily wage in a nearby market to supplement their income.  

The surrounding mountains are filled with precious and semi-precious stones that could potentially be mined on a small scale by the villagers, which was a very tempting new source of income, but until recently, the entire area was heavily contaminated by landmines.  Last year, DAFA and the dog teams were able to clear the area of the mines, enabling the villagers to immediately begin collecting some of the precious stones.  They shared that they now have a "considerable monthly income compared to the daily wage work, and now 30 households are being supported through this new form of work."  Among these workers, a man named Safiullah shared his personal tragedy, saying: "My elder brother was not aware of the mine threats in and around this mountain and unknowingly came here to attempt to gather some of the stones.  But while he was walking, he accidentally set off a mine, causing an enormous explosion that killed him on the spot.  My poor brother didn't know that he was looking for rocks at the cost of his life.  Several other landmine accidents happened in this area after the death of my brother, including a young boy who stepped on a mine while collecting brush for fire, and many cattle who have been killed from explosions.  With the clearance of this area, we get a sense of safety and can walk around freely.  Now we are living a peaceful and prosperous life."

Formerly mine-contaminated land in Afghanistan
Formerly mine-contaminated land in Afghanistan
MDD Toby locating mines in Afghanistan
MDD Toby locating mines in Afghanistan

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Organization Information

The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI)

Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.marshall-legacy.org
The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI)
Project Leader:
Tycie Horsley
Arlington, VA United States

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