Kabul City Clearance Project

by Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil [ Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan ] - view pdf

After decades of conflict in Afghanistan, the Kabul City Clearance Project is addressing the dangers of mine and unexploded ordnance that pose a threat to the safety and livelihood of Kabul’s expanding urban population. KCCP is an 18-month collaborative project that utilizes the resources of Afghan Technical Consultants, a local clearance nongovernmental organization, to implement a mine-clearance plan in 36 impacted communities.

Figure 1. Map showing the extent of landmine contamination in Kabul Municipality City, Afghanistan.<br />
<em>Map courtesy of MACCA.</em>
(Click image to enlarge)
Figure 1. Map showing the extent of landmine contamination in Kabul Municipality City, Afghanistan.
Map courtesy of MACCA.

Decades of conflict have left Kabul City, Afghanistan ravaged
by war and contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance. Despite the great achievements of mine-clearance operations to date, 92 confirmed hazardous areas (which were
recorded in a polygon survey) remain within Kabuls city limits, rendering only approximately six square kilometers (2.32 square miles) available for pasturing, farming and housing. More safe land is urgently needed by a rapidly growing urban population. Thousands of people have lost their lives or become disabled in mine and unexploded-ordnance accidents in the city, and currently approximately two people every month are fatally or seriously injured.

The KCCP is working to clear Kabul City of mines based on a two-phase plan. Phase 1, which is underway, consists of 44 of the confirmed hazardous areas; Phase 2 consists of 48 additional CHAs and will be implemented in early 2012. If the KCCP continues clearance at the current rate of progression, meeting or exceeding their target timeline, and they receive adequate funding for the second phase, they could completely remove all known hazards in Kabul City within an operating period of 18 months.

Kabul Citys History of Contamination

Kabul City has experienced prolonged and intense conflict resulting from:1

Figure 2. Map showing cleared minefields and secured hazardous areas in Kabul city, Afghanistan.
<br /><em>Map courtesy of MACCA.</em>
(Click image to enlarge)
Figure 2. Map showing cleared minefields and secured hazardous areas in Kabul city, Afghanistan.
Map courtesy of MACCA.

Historical Achievement of Mine Action

Mine and UXO survey and clearance, which was commenced in 1994 by several organizations including ATC, Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghanistan Rehabilitation, The HALO Trust, Mine Clearance Planning Agency and Mine Detection Dog Center in Kabul City. After some years, two more national and international mine-clearance organizations—Demining Agency for Afghanistan and Danish Demining Group—became involved in this process. The mentioned organizations are supported by the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of States Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) and other bilateral donors. Since then, significant progress has been made toward ridding the city of these hazards, including the following:

The map in Figure 2 shows where clearance has taken place in Kabul City.

Despite these successes, more than 23 years of conflict have resulted in Kabul becoming one of the worlds most heavily mined capital cities, and the civilian community continues to pay an unacceptably high price. Since 1979, mines and UXO have killed or injured 2,152 people, more than 30 percent of whom were between the ages of seven and 14. On average, this equates to 72 people and impacting 72 families per year for three decades devastated by indiscriminate death or injury.2 The chart in Figure 3 shows how, as a result of clearance achievements to date, the accident rate has significantly reduced since 2001.

Figure 3. Graph illustrating the declining rate of civilian victims in Kabul city, Afghanistan since 2001.<br /><em>
Courtesy of MACCA.</em>
(Click image to enlarge)
Figure 3. Graph illustrating the declining rate of civilian victims in Kabul city, Afghanistan since 2001.
Courtesy of MACCA.

Kabul City has experienced massive population growth since 2002, with a yearly increase of about 400,000 people, or 55,000 households, which urgently require access to land and services. Mines and UXO pose the threat of death and injury, and also block access to vitally needed resources for this rapidly growing city. These hazards directly impact approximately 584,703 men, women and children.2

The presence of mines and UXO significantly affects resettlement and development within the city limits, and contributes to restricted economic growth and opportunity for the citys most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Though many minefields were cleared in the central and highprofile areas of the city, until funding is available, KCCP will wait to clear minefields in peripheral communities, such as mountainous areas and other locations that appear deserted or unused. The mines in these areas, however, threaten the rising urban-poor population. Communities forced to live on the edges of established society put themselves at increased risk of mine/UXO accidents out of necessity as they search for fuel (e.g., grasses, wood), medicinal plants, food (e.g., mountain rhubarb) and graze their animals in areas suspected to be unsafe.

Operational Methodology

Kabul Citys remaining hazards are located in ward numbers 3, 5–8, 14–16 and 19–22. The operational methodology is based on an integrated approach to demining using manual-demining teams supported by mine-detection dog teams and mechanical assets, plus a roving explosive-ordnance-disposal capacity. The KCCP was designed for completion in 18 months, with operations suspended between December and March (winter season). Through analysis of the minefields in each cluster (size, location, contamination type, etc.), the assets required to most efficiently remove mine and UXO contamination were determined. Complete clearance of all known hazards in Kabul City will be achieved through the deployment of the following:

The KCCP will clear known recorded hazards in 12 out of 22 contaminated districts of Kabul City within wards 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21 and 22 (see Figure 1). The direct beneficiaries of this project are the members from 36 mine- and UXO-affected communities. The cleared land will be used for a variety of purposes, including residential housing, livestock grazing, leisure activities and implementation of rehabilitation and development projects.

Deminer working in a minefield during KCCP operations.
Deminer working in a minefield during KCCP operations.
Photo courtesy of ATC.

Current Situation

The project area has been divided into two phases in which the high-priority areas will be cleared during Phase 1 and the medium- and low-priority areas will be addressed during Phase 2.

The projects first phase is funded through a contribution to the Voluntary Trust Fund made by the European Union. Clearance started 6 January 2011 and should be completed 5 January 2012. During the one-year period (two months training and 10 working months) of Phase 1, 19 community-based demining teams and one EOD team are working to clear the high-priority areas.

ATC recruited deminers from the affected communities through extensive community-liaison activities, explaining the project objectives and expected outcomes. Community elders nominated eligible candidates who then completed demining training courses conducted by Afghan Technical Consultants. The trained deminers are now busy clearing their village areas from mine and UXO hazards.

These are the projected outcomes for this clearance project:

During the project implementation, ATC is building demining skills of the recruited community members by conducting on-the-job as well as off-the-job trainings. The off-the-job trainings include review of demining techniques, lessons learned, mine-risk education and first aid at their base camps after leaving demining sites. During the first 12 months, the selected deminers and section leaders underwent capacitydevelopment training, and if the project continues through a second year, section leaders will be trained to take over team-leader positions.

Conclusion

Following completion of the KCCP, all known recorded hazards will be removed from the city (except some residual threat from exposure of any subsurface UXO that appears during construction work, movement of ERW from other areas or identification of new hazardous areas), and civilian accident rates are expected to substantially decline. Also, a number of people trained as deminers during the implementation of this project will be given opportunities to be hired as deminers on other projects or to advance to higher positions such as section leaders or team leaders. As soon as funds are provided for Phase 2 of this project, and Phase 2 is completed, 22 wards in Kabul will be announced free from hazards of known minefields. The cleared land will be used for housing, agriculture, livestock pasturing, leisure activities, development projects and industrial revitalization, and the people who live close to the cleared areas will be able to live safely. J

 


Biographies

Asa GilbertMohammad Akbar Oriakhill was born in Kabul and graduated from Habibia High School before immigrating to Pakistan where he studied under the International Rescue Committee Construction Engineering Program. In August 1995, he joined Afghan Technical Consultants and worked as Assistant Operations Officer, Assistant Site Officer, Supervisor, and Operations Officer until February 2003. He then joined MACCA as Operations Assistant and he was promoted in 2006 to Area Manager. He is also a graduate of James Madison Universitys 2010 ERW/Senior Managers Course.

Contact Information

Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil
Area Manager
Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) for Central Area
Mobile: +93 (0) 705 966 529 / + 93 (0) 700 223 352
Email: akbar.oriakhil@macca.org.af
Skype: makbaroriakhil
Website: http://macca.org.af


Endnotes:

  1. Lokey, Joe. “Global Focus on Landmines in Afghanistan,” Journal of Mine Action, 5.3 (2001). http://www.jmu.edu/cisr/journal/5.3/features/joe_lokey/joe_lokey.htm. Accessed 3 October 2011.
  2. IMSMA Database. National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR (UXO-NRA). http://www.gichd.org/main-menu/information-management/imsma-software/. Accessed 3 October 2011.
  3. MAPA Plans. Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan. http://www.macca.org.af/en/mapa_plans.html. Accessed 3 October 2011.

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