Afghanistan: Evaluation of Mine-risk Education, 1997

Conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA), the 1997 Afghanistan National MAE audited the effectiveness of mine awareness activities from the community standpoint. Respondents from 9,124 households in 86 sites across the country were interviewed and information was gathered on the impact on 57,287 people of land mines and unexploded ordnance. Over 200 focus groups were held with men and children, as well as seven focus groups with women. Programme managers and mine awareness trainers were interviewed and curriculum materials used to teach mine awareness analysed. The mine awareness organisations involved in this evaluation were the BBC Afghan Education Drama Project, Save the Children Fund (USA), Organisation for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR) and Handicap International (Belgium).

The audit showed that direct training on mine details — what mines look like, where the detonator is, or how it works — actually puts the would-be beneficiaries at higher risk of mine accidents. This could be partly due to a false sense of security conveyed by the training, without the real knowledge necessary to disarm a mine. Whatever the mechanism, among those who received direct training, the audit found a shift from lower limb injuries, caused by stepping on the mines, to hand and arm injuries typical of tampering with mines.

The Afghanistan audit was convened by UNOCHA, which coordinates several projects in the Afghan mine action programme. Most individual projects have their own evaluation systems, but few have the means or the resources to find out how the combination of initiatives works. For examples, the combination of direct training and listening to the BBC radio soap opera, “New Home, New Life” had a measurable positive effect in reducing mine accidents and promoting mine-smart behaviour. The BBC program regularly broadcasts locally adapted mine awareness messages to promote mine- smart behaviour.

CIET applied the Afghan survey materials to develop geomatic communication materials for mine action. Feeding the mine action tracking results into mapping models offers an immediate picture of population responses to risks. These have been used to forecast likely impacts with different investment strategies to reduce the risk of mines. CIET is currently developing a mine action tracking geomatics software package that will be distributed as free-ware for the use of NGOs.

See: Andersson N and Mitchell S. Epidemiological geomatics in evaluation of mine risk education in Afghanistan: introducing population weighted raster maps. International Journal of Health Geographics 2006, 5:1, the full text of which is available on line.


The report of the mine awareness evaluation is available in full and in executive summary from the Library.


See also: Andersson N, Swaminathan A, Whitaker C, Roche M. Mine smartness and the community voice in mine-risk education: lessons from Afghanistan and Angola. Third World Quarterly 2003; 24;5:873-887.