MANICALAND province’s Burma Valley has now been cleared of all wartime landmines that have littered the area since independence in 1980, courtesy of a joint effort by the United States and Norwegian governments.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, over 1 500 people and 120 000 livestock have been killed in landmine accidents.
In a statement last week, the United States Embassy said the two-year mine clearance programme by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) with funding support from the US and Norwergian governments had unearthed thousands of landmines planted by the colonial regime during the liberation struggle.
The area was handed over to the local communities at Burma Valley on July 9 at a ceremony witnessed by several government officials, Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (Zimac) and the National Mine Action Authority of Zimbabwe (Namaaz), traditional leaders and over 200 beneficiaries of the newly-cleared area.
“The local community has already started using the land and will be undertaking income-generating activities such as banana-growing and livestock-rearing in the newly-cleared area,” the US embassy said.
“The demining exercise began in May 2013 and the mine clearance process involved the recovery and destruction of 120 landmines, a process that was completed on February 27, 2015. The Burma Valley minefield was 4,1 kilometres long and 150 metres wide on average.
“In addition, the United States has allocated another $3 million for humanitarian demining in 2015. The funding will enable NPA and HALO Trust, non-governmental organisations working in northern Zimbabwe, to accelerate Zimbabwe’s progress towards becoming mine impact-free. The support will also assist victims of landmine accidents and raise public awareness of the dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordinance.”
Assistance by the US government towards demining activities in the country started in 1997 when $6 351 000 was availed to clear minefields around Victoria Falls, making the area safe for tourism activities that have been generating income for the country.