Land release is the process of reclassifying the status of known or suspected mined areas (or parts of those areas) to end state land. Land is released from the suspicion of mines or explosive remnants of war (ERWs), through non-technical survey, technical survey and/or clearance resources. The end user or authority then has confidence that the land can be used safely. The full process of land release is applied to the known or suspected hazardous areas, as defined by the baseline survey.

The Land Release Policy was developed to accelerate the release of suspected land to reduce the threat from mines/ERWs. Implementing the policy will help achieve the goals set by Cambodia’s 10-Year Extension Request and the National Mine Action Standards (NMAS). The Policy is reiterated in the Cambodian Mine Action Standards (CMAS) No. 15 - Land Release.

There are three ways to release land that is suspected of containing mines/ERWs:

Land released through non-technical survey -The process of collecting and analyzing new and/or existing information about an area suspected of containing a mine/ERW hazard normally without physical intervention in the area. Also called Baseline Survey, it is governed by the CMAS No. 14.- Baseline Survey. Information from the Baseline Survey will be routinely updated as part of the annual planning process and pre-assessment checks. Accordingly, the national database will also be updated.

Land released through technical survey - The detailed topographical and technical investigation of an area suspected of containing a mine/ERW hazard is done to determine any area requiring clearance, and to release the remaining land from suspicion of having any hazards.

Land released through clearance – The physical processing of an area to a specified depth in accordance with CMAS No. 6 – Clearance Requirements. The Government accepts that no liability shall rest with an accredited operator for land that is released as long as the process of releasing the land (whether through non-technical survey, technical survey or clearance) has fully complied with the CMAS, has been conducted by an accredited operator using accredited standard operating procedures and has been subjected to quality assurance by CMAA.



Planning and Prioritization

To ensure that mine clearance resources and assets are deployed where affected communities most need it, the planning and prioritization process was established. This is in accordance with Sub-Decree 70, the Socio-economic Management of Mine Clearance Operations, signed in 2004. The Sub-Decree outlines a decentralized management system for mine action in Cambodia. A set of guidelines has also been developed to support the process.

The process begins when Mine Action Planning Units (MAPUs) meet with members of an affected community. MAPUs are the provincial arm of the Government responsible for consulting communities, demining organizations and relevant development organizations in formulating annual demining work plans. MAPUs also conduct field investigations to validate the planned use of land after clearance, monitor the implementation of the demining work plans, and conduct post-clearance monitoring to verify post-clearance land use and beneficiaries.

Community meetings aim to provide information on the extent and location of the contamination and to access mine action needs, which will inform the commune and development plans. Using these information, a draft provincial plan containing the location of all proposed clearance tasks is prepared and submitted to the Provincial Mine Action Committee (PMAC). The PMAC is responsible for ensuring that mine clearance planning involves participation of the affected community and that the process is conducted transparently. PMAC also ensures that the mine clearance process supports local development plans. PMAC approves the annual demining work plans and resolves disputes on cleared land. The annual work plans are signed off by the Governor and by all relevant provincial departments.

Following completion of clearance tasks by the operator and after quality assurance verification, the community is invited to attend the handover ceremony and is involved and surveyed for post-clearance monitoring.

The planning and prioritization process is illustrated below:


Post-Clearance Monitoring

Monitoring land that has been cleared is necessary to ensure that these are being used by the intended beneficiaries in the communities, particularly by the poor, and for the proposed purpose, specifically for socio-economic development. Findings from the monitoring are then used by local authorities, relevant development organizations, demining organizations, and Mine Action Planning Units (MAPUs) to improve the next planning process or resolve land use issues that may have arisen.

CMAA has conducted post-clearance monitoring in 2009 and 2011 wherein results showed that majority of the land that was cleared in the previous year is being used for agriculture. The remaining land cleared was used for infrastructure such as housing and roads.