Lou McGrath and Jane Cocking
18
Jan
2019

Find A Better Way and MAG sign landmine clearance agreement

Find A Better Way has signed a 15-month agreement with MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to fund the removal of landmines from some of the worst-affected land in western Cambodia.

Two mine action teams and one survey team will now be trained, equipped, and deployed in Battambang and Pailin provinces. The project will transform the lives of an estimated 772 local residents, including 153 families.

As part of the project, the newly-formed demining teams will test a prototype mine detector being developed at the University of Manchester with funding from Find A Better Way. The new detector will combine advanced metal detection technology with ground-penetrating radar.

“MAG and Find A Better Way are both Manchester-area based charities working to help the same people around the world,” said Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath. “It is good to see charities working together in partnership and it will be good to see Sir Bobby and Jane begin the next stage in our partnership today.”

During a 2008 visit to Cambodia, Find A Better Way founder Sir Bobby Charlton donned protective clothing and walked through a minefield being cleared by a local MAG team. After seeing the continued damage landmines inflict on communities long after the fighting stopped, he set up Find A Better Way to look for new solutions to help landmine survivors, their families, and communities recover and rebuild more quickly.

The beneficiaries of this project will be vulnerable individuals living in rural communities, who are mainly dependent on subsistence farming and the collection of non-timber forest products as their primary livelihood activities. Communities predominantly live in remote areas with poor access to basic infrastructure, and have therefore very limited access to services and development interventions.

The continued presence of landmines and other unexploded bombs makes rebuilding this community particularly challenging. By removing the constant threat posed by landmines, MAG and Find A Better Way hope to provide the people of Battambang and Pailin provinces the opportunity to fully recover from the fighting that ended over 20 years ago.

The location of the new demining effort is also significant to Find A Better Way’s ongoing work in Cambodia. After opening its first Sir Bobby Charlton Centre in Amman, Jordan in 2017 a second centre is currently being planned in the neighbouring Cambodian province of Pursat. This centre will provide vocational training support to disabled people, many of whom will have been injured by landmines in Battambang and Pailin provinces.

Representing MAG at today’s signing was CEO Jane Cocking.

“Today, more 60 million people live under the threat of landmines globally with at least 16 people killed or injured every day. Almost half of those casualties are children,” she explained.

“Cambodia is one of most heavily landmine-contaminated countries in the world and this new partnership will help us with our aim to rid the country of these indiscriminate killers, impacting the lives of hundreds of people.

“As well as saving lives, it will ensure land can be returned to communities, improving lives and creating safe access to schools, hospitals and housing.”