Landmines affect communities
During the civil war (1993-1997) some parts of Tajikistan’s territory were contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). Dashti Yazgulom, an area in Vanj district of Badakhshan Province, with relatively large agricultural lands, as well as lands for pasture, collecting wood and other domestic activities, was contaminated by landmines and ERW in 1993-1995. About 800,000 m² (80 hectares) of land was contaminated by landmines and ERW causing three people to be injured in this area. The last accident took place in 2005. Due to landmines and ERW, the local population could not use these lands for more than 10 years.
During the landmines’ Impact Surveys conducted in 2005 and 2008 the local population as well as the local Government were concerned about the landmines and ERW in Dashti Yazgulom. They said: “Beside the human suffering, we lost also lots of animals in this area. The roads and paths are not safe. Agricultural lands have not been irrigated and used for a decade. Fields and some mountainous areas are not accessible for collecting wood and construction materials. Fishing and grazing animals is impossible.” There is a high impact on social and economic aspects of community life in this area.
- Eighty hectares of landmine and ERW contaminated land was cleared in Dashti Yazgulom and is now used for daily life.
- Two thousand seven hundred antipersonnel landmines and 25 ERW were identified and destroyed.
- Sixty-five people have permanent jobs.
- The quality of life of the local population has improved significantly.
UNDP’s/TMAC’s role in this project is to coordinate and manage all mine action related activities in Tajikistan, including planning, prioritizing and tasking the operations teams, as well as conducting quality assurance, monitoring survey and landmine clearance activities. UNDP/TMAC therefore allocated resources and assigned a high priority to this area and tasked the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) General Mine Action Assessment team to assess the landmine impact on the local community and conduct clearance activities in this area as soon as possible.
As a result of land release operations, 328,000 m² (32.8 hectares) of land was cleared of landmines and ERW. 2,700 antipersonnel landmines and 25 ERW were identified and destroyed. The remaining area was considered to be free of landmines/ERW and therefore released. This land is now used by the local population again.
Out of the 80 hectares of released land, 40 hectares are used for planting, 30 hectares for pasture, 5 hectares for building houses and 5 hectares for gardening. Currently, the statistics shows that from each hectare the local population receives 3.5 tons of wheat crops annually. New houses have been built in Dashti Yazgulom where 65 local people are provided with permanent jobs.
A representative of Yazgulom Jamoat indicated that the quality of life of the local inhabitants has significantly improved. The area is populated with more people, new houses are constructed. More lands are irrigated and used. The agricultural lands are being used properly and the people of Vanj district are benefitting from the results. No accident has been recorded in the cleared lands. The local government and people appreciate the work of the UNDP/TMAC as well as the other implementing agencies involved in the land release process in this area.
Dashti Yazgulom is a great example of how landmines and ERW can have an impact on the local community. It is also a great example of how the Mine Action Programme can efficiently and effectively tackle landmines and ERW and remove them from the ground. A similar approach and methodology is and will be used in other landmine and ERW contaminated regions of Tajikistan.