For many small hold farmers in western Cambodia, farming can be a risky business. Not only are landmines and explosive remnants of war a safety hazard, but they also hinder agricultural productivity which is often a ticket to a better income and greater food security for poor families.
In Banteay Meanchey province, 55-year old Teng Louch is happy. Nineteen anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) were found, removed and destroyed in Malai district, including in plots of land near his home. Now, he grows crops on land that are free of such dangerous devices that can still maim or kill if undetected and not destroyed properly.
“I used to be a laborer, cultivating other people’s land for them and being paid KHR 16,000 ($4) a day,” says Louch. “Now, I can plant near my home and earn from it.”
Through the Clearing for Results project, the United Nations Development Programme and its partners have been helping the government of Cambodia clear landmines in the most highly contaminated provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin. The project, supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Austria and the United Kingdom, has helped clear around 83 km2 of land since 2006. Now on its second phase, the $25 million project has also contributed to the steady decline of landmine casualties throughout Cambodia, from 188 in 2006 to 48 in 2013.
Furthermore, 80% of land cleared in the three provinces in 2011 is now being used for agricultural purposes, according to the project’s post-clearance monitoring. One such family benefitting from this is Louch’s.