• Orange Groves and Vegetables
• A school and vital well are built after HALO’s mine clearance
By: Halo Trust
Somalilandsun – We travelled for nearly three hours directly north of Hargeisa over sandy, stone and tarmac roads to a beautiful river valley area.
The vegetation is lush with mango trees growing on the river banks, groves of orange trees and fields of vegetables (onions, potatoes, lettuces) and fields of maize all growing in abundance.
The HALO base camp is next to the orange groves at Agabar where earlier this year they conducted a baseline survey. The survey found that both sides of the river had been mined with AT mines and that two vehicles had been destroyed by them. HALO also discovered that there have been fatalities in the orange groves of three people and many cattle. Clearance started in November and local elders are asking for the land to be cleared as soon as possible so that they can plant crops for the next harvest.We arrived five days after the start of the 21 day demining cycle and the teams had already started clearance. The base lane was set and deminers were swinging their detectors.
Alongside the mineclearance, HALO conducted Mine Risk Education. The presentation and demonstration lasted about 45 minutes and HALO distributed small posters showing the mines laid in Somaliland. Mines were laid by the Somali National Movement (SNM) in the mid 1980’s.
Agabar Town has a population of about 3500, which is dependant on the farms that line the nearby riverbank. This town is growing as a result of successful harvests, but the expansion of the farms is limited due to the adjacent minefield. HALO deployed two mineclearance teams in November 2009, and expects to have completed the identified task by February 2010.
A school and vital well are built after HALO’s clearance
Arrayambo is on the main road 27km west of Hargeisa. Anti-tank mines were laid both sides of the road by the SNA (Somaliland National Army) 20 years ago to protect the movement of the SNM (Somaliland National Movement) troops and supply lines.
HALO first came across Abdi Rashido in 2003 when his tractor had just been blown up by an anti-tank mine. HALO began by surveying the area and found evidence of more mines and accidents. HALO then spent one year clearing 32,000 m² both mechanically and manually. During the clearance process, three Anti Tank mines were located and destroyed.
Since HALO completed the immediate area, Abdi and his family have helped to create a prosperous community, with the new school funded by UNICEF completed last year (they have been promised an extension if they can encourage more girls to come to school!), a new community well and a mosque is currently being built next to the village tea shop on the side of the busy main tarmac road to Hargeisa.
With HALO completing clearance during the last year, the village well has been repaired and now allows 33 families, who belong to a community within a 5 km radius each consisting of approximately 6-7 members, four gallons of water per day for household use plus water for their animals. The well is fenced to stop animals and children falling in and is under 24 hour guard.
Arrayambo is a fertile area where they are now successfully growing maize, sorghum, papaya, lemons and other crops. The elders each herd large flocks of around 50-60 goats and sheep.
The 2009 HALO baseline survey has identified a mines threat on the northern side of the road and will deploy teams as soon as possible to clear a suspect hazardous area with a threat of anti tank mines, thus enabling the enthusiastic but worried community to cultivate the remainder of their traditional farm land.