On August 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) announced the winners of six competitive grants worth $10.7 million to fund humanitarian demining and conventional weapons destruction programs in six Afghan provinces: Kabul, Parwan, Panjshir, Baghlan, Balkh, and Takhar.
After three decades of conflict, Afghanistan remains heavily contaminated by landmines, unexploded ordnance, and other dangerous remnants of war. Landmines continue to kill or injure about 33 civilians a month, down from more than 150 per month in 2001. As of June 2015, the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan estimated that 542.6 square kilometers of minefields and battlefields remain contaminated, affecting over 1,500 communities.
The United States is the largest donor to humanitarian demining in Afghanistan. Since 2002, the State Department has provided almost $400 million for demining and conventional weapons destruction in Afghanistan. State Department-funded implementing partners have already cleared over 165 square kilometers of land and removed or destroyed approximately 7.8 million land mines and other explosive remnants of war in Afghanistan. During this year’s competitive process, PM/WRA reviewed 39 proposals from eight local and international organizations. The winning bids were selected based on organizational capacity, cost-effectiveness, and the beneficial impact of the proposed work.
In total, these six grants will allow for the clearance of 19.1 square kilometers of contaminated land at an average cost of only $0.59 per square meter, which is some of the most cost-effective mine action programming within Afghanistan and globally. The award recipients include four Afghan organizations – Afghanistan Technical Consultants (ATC), Mine Detection Dog Center (MDC), Demining Agency for Afghanistan (DAFA), and the Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Reconstruction (OMAR), and one international organization, The HALO Trust.