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Community Mine Awareness for Development by Dr. Hildegard Scheu, Social Scientist, Consultant and Trainer

Years after the civil war has ended, mines and UXO continue to be a serious danger to numerous communities in Mozambique. GTZ and Zimbabwean demining company Mine-Tech jointly developed the Integrated Humanitarian Demining for Development approach. Community Mine Awareness Training (CMA) for the local population was always an integral component. The concept and approach of CMA needed further improvement and refinement. The objective of the pilot project undertaken in the Cheringoma District of Sofala Province in Mozambique, June 19 - September 5, 1998, was to improve methods and instruments for CMA. This included the development of participatory methods to be used in mine surveys and for mine and mine field marking. In general, the CMA approach to train community facilitators used to empower communities to cope with the mine and UXO threat is appropriate, but it was found to have serious flaws in the methods used for awareness raising, monitoring and follow-up.

Mine Awareness Session in a community of Inhaminga, August 1998.

Community Mine Awareness Issues:

Findings and Results

The CMA sessions were basically teaching lessons; the shape, functioning and danger of different mines and UXO prevalent in Mozambique were explained with the help of wooden mine models (32 pieces). Participation was limited to asking questions at the end of a lecture and giving information on any mines or UXO findings the instructors could report.

Drawing a village map, Dimba, July 1998.

Marking and reporting was weak. People used different signs for marking UXO; a commonly used and known sign did not exist. The danger sign, "Perigo Minas," was not known by everyone. When people reported findings to the district administrator, he told them that there was nothing he could do about it, so people stopped reporting findings. The CMA instructors included reports about mines and UXO findings in their CMA meetings accounts; these reports were kept by PRRS-GTZ, but a specific reporting format did not exist.

Some of the trained CMA instructors and project team worked together to improve CMA methods by making them more participatory and to explore new communication tools and participatory methods in selected communities. Visual aids were developed with the aim to develop a more participatory approach, including focus group discussions, model demonstrations, role-plays, songs, children's games, participatory village resource, infrastructure mapping, social diagramming and the development of a locally appropriate marking sign. A series of drawings were also developed and tested. Because children constitute a vulnerable target group, special emphasis was given to the development of methods for children. The methods proved useful in raising awareness, transferring knowledge and changing attitudes and behaviors associated with the mine and UXO threat.

Children at a mine awareness session at school, drawing mine models (we used wooden models and explained carefully the difference between the models and the real mines), Dimba School.


The project team trained the CMA instructors in the application of these methods. Accordingly, a new training syllabus and a training manual were developed. A report form for located mines and UXO and a report form for monthly reports on CMA meetings were also developed.

The inability of district level government structures to deal with the mine and UXO threat was obvious. Proper information was not available about areas already cleared of mines and areas still suspected to be mined. Mines and demining issues did not bear any clear responsibility, the district administration did not provide support for community CMA instructors and reports on mines and UXO findings submitted to the administrator were not forwarded to the higher ranking officers. Therefore, there is an urgent need to set up a proper structure and procedure for the cooperation between the district administration and IHDD/CMAD-teams. Liaison with the government authorities was an important part of the pilot project team's work.

In Cheringoma District, there was also a need for mediation between the traditional authorities, which hold power in their communities, and the government authorities. The conflict between the two political parties and former enemies in civil war, RENAMO and FRELIMO, still plays a major role in the antagonistic relationship between these different political actors. The project team made successful efforts to bring the traditional and the government authorities together in two meetings where the CMAD approach was explained and discussed.


Mine Awareness Training for female community facilitators.


In order to sustain the efforts made during the pilot phase and to apply and further develop the approach in other regions of Mozambique, follow-up and further efforts are needed. Two advisor teams should be trained and deployed in the two Mozambican provinces of Sofala and Manica. Their main tasks should be to train local CMAD instructors, to supervise them and to monitor them. Those advisers may be partly recruited from Mine-Tech personnel and partly from the projects PRRS-GTZ and MARRP-GTZ, with a background in community development and/or some experience in CMA emphasized. Apart from knowledge of mines, explosives and the demining process, the advisors should possess knowledge and skills in participatory CMAD methods, in community mobilization and in community techniques developed during the pilot project. These advisors must know the local traditions, value systems and authority structures in both provinces in Mozambique and must be aware of hierarchies and power structures. Sensitivity for gender issues and the ability to train literate as well as illiterate or semiliterate people is also required. Finally, they must possess knowledge on monitoring and evaluation. Advisor training (training of trainers) is recommended to impart this knowledge and skill level.

Mine Awareness Training for female community facilitators.

The long term success and sustainability of the program depends on the efforts of the communities themselves. To facilitate the process of self-help, community facilitators should be trained as CMAD instructors. They should be volunteers who serve their communities and should not be paid (in kind or cash) by outside organizations. They should receive equipment necessary to do their work. Care has to be taken in the selection of community members to be trained. Women and men should be selected from every village in equal numbers. These people should meet the following criteria: they should be well known and respected in their communities, outspoken and brave, a volunteer to be trained as a CMA must be able to walk long distances and to ride a bicycle (or willing to learn to ride a bicycle), willing to attend the training during the full period and willing to do CMA sessions after the training without payment on a volunteer basis. It is highly recommended to include demobilized soldiers, as they already have the technical knowledge of mines and UXO. Soldiers can be used as resource persons and teachers during training. Traditional authorities must be involved in the selection process since they are responsible for their areas.

The training of CMAD instructors should be done in small groups of eight to12 people, as close to the participants' village as possible. The duration of the training will depend on the people to be trained and their knowledge and perception capacity. In general, three weeks (15 work days) should be enough to cover all the important training topics.

As the pilot project was carried out in Cheringoma District, where PRRS-GTZ is operating, specific recommendations were addressed to PRRS-GTZ. It is recommended that a staff member be selected to follow-up the CMAD activities initiated and monitor the coordination process between the CMAD instructors, the teachers trained in CMA and the district administration. Further coordination is needed with Handicap International, an NGO responsible for CMA in Mozambique and the provincial administration for education, to integrate CMA into the school curriculum and to train teachers in CMA. The link between institutions, like schools, and the communities must be strengthened.

The concepts for this paper were developed on behalf of GTZ.

Contact Information

Dr. Hildegard Scheu
Schafgasse 23, 63225 Langen, Germany
Tel: +49-(0)-6103-923875
Fax: +49-(0)-6103-928563