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LAO PDR: Farming in safety

Mr Chan found cluster munitions on his land

Mr Chan next to his newly planted rice crop on land cleared by MAG. [Photo: MAG Laos] 

Poverty and food insecurity means that four-fifths of those living in parts of Laos contaminated by explosive weapons are still using land they know or suspect to be dangerous.

Around a quarter of the country's 10,000-plus villages remain affected by unexploded ordnance – the bombs, shells and mortars that failed to explode when used during the Vietnam War and are still at risk of detonating.

In Naphai village, in the north-eastern province of Xieng Khouang, the need to earn a living from crops means people are prepared to risk their lives to feed their families.

“I used to find bombies [the local name for cluster submunitions] when attempting to extend my farmland,” explains Mr Chan, who has lived in Naphai all his life.

“Whenever I found them, I moved them myself and dumped them in a bomb crater. I knew this was very risky, but I was desperate to grow rice for my family.”

Cluster bomb clearance

At the request of the local authorities, a MAG Unexploded Ordnance Clearance Team cleared 4,500m² of land in Naphai in May 2013, destroying 492 ‘BLU26’ cluster submunitions – incredibly, that’s one bombie for every 9m² they searched.

"Thanks to MAG, I can now use my land safely and do not have to worry about a UXO accident occurring," says Mr Chan. "Since my land was cleared, I have been able to use a tractor instead of a buffalo and basic farming tools.

"This makes farming much quicker and easier for me and family now. We are very pleased and grateful."

MAG clears approximately 700 items of unexploded ordnance a month in Laos, three quarters of which are cluster munitions. In the last 12 months, more than 22,000 people have directly benefited from MAG’s work in Laos.

MAG relies on donations to clear cluster munitions. Please donate online now. Your generosity makes a remarkable difference to the lives of families affected by conflict.

31 July 2013

Surviving the Peace is a film about devastation and hope in the most bombed country on earth per capita. Open video in full page

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MAG (Mines Advisory Group) saves and improves lives by reducing the devastating effects armed violence and remnants of conflict have on people around the world.
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