Thursday, April 2, 2015

First survey on Mine Risks in Myanmar can reduce accidents and save lives

By Emmanuelle Compingt

Photo Credit DCA - Maw Phray Myar and colleague practicing the use of GPS during the MRE KAP Training
Kayah State - Maw Pray Myar says she hasn’t “a fixed goal in life”, but in fact she wants to become a traditional singer. And while she waits to become a music star, the young Myanmar woman is already famous as one of the most active team leaders for the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey on Mine Risks, conducted for the first time ever, in three States and two Regions in the South-East of Myanmar, in 2014.

Maw Pray Myar was working as a volunteer for the Kay Htoo Boe Social Development Association in Kayah State when Danish Church Aid and UNICEF approached the community-based organization in February 2013. She was selected as one of the KAP survey team leaders, as she had shown strong leadership skills and knowledge. 
In 2014, Maw Pray Myar presented the findings of the KAP survey in front of 10 Government Ministry representatives at a high-level meeting held in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Daw. “The Mine Risk Education (MRE) KAP survey is an assessment through which we can learn about people’s beliefs regarding landmines and explosive devices”, Maw Pray Myar explained.  “It is good for the local population and I strongly believe that, through this work, accidents can be reduced and people can be safer.”
Apart from gaining leadership skills and knowledge on Mine Risk Education, Maw Pray Myar also highlighted the team spirit and the new friends this experience brought:  “At first, I did not know anyone in the MRE KAP team, even people from my own State. Now the situation has changed and we are all very good friends”, she said. “This has helped us to work in a more effective way”, she said proudly. 

As a result of decades of armed conflict, Myanmar is experiencing some of the highest mine accident rates in the world. Although verifiable data is difficult to gather, seven out of Myanmar’s 14 States are contaminated with landmines, mostly laid along border areas by Government and ethnic armed groups, due to both previous and ongoing conflicts. With ceasefire negotiations making new progress, some displaced people consider returning back to their villages. However, land mine contamination continues to pose a serious risk.

From February 2013 to June 2014, UNICEF1  and the Danish Church Aid (DCA) conducted the KAP Survey on Mine Risks under the leadership of the Myanmar Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. The survey used faith-based and community-based organisations to collect data from 41 villages and over 390 households, including 390 interviews with children. This has informed the development of a common set of material currently field-tested and about to be endorsed and used by 28 organizations and 10 ministries.
The Myanmar Government will officially launch the KAP report in 2015. “Some of the key findings show that 3 out 4 children interviewed have never received any information on mines - even fewer adults have received any form of mine risk education”, explained Aaron Greenberg, UNICEF Chief of Child Protection.  “More than 40% of men and women believe that prodding with the use of a bamboo, wooden or metal stick is a safe way to check for mines or explosive devices”, he added.
According to the report, ongoing conflict and poverty reinforce risk-taking behavior. In addition, access to livelihoods remains a concern overriding mine risks as 65% of the respondents reported accident which occurred during the collection of forest products.
Photo Credit DCA - MRE KAP Team worked in pairs: One conducted the interviews, the other registered the responses.  Women team members interviewed the Girls/Women participants, while Men interviewed the Boys/Men.
UNICEF, together with the Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement, plays a lead role in mine/ERW (Explosive Remnants of War) risk education and Victim Assistance (VA) and will continue to ensure that MRE and VA activities are effectively integrated into broader mine action, humanitarian and development programmes, and policies.  “We are strongly encouraged by the efforts of the Government to address and mitigate the impact of mines on children and families in Myanmar. Now is the time to strengthen these efforts and seek commitments from all parties to the conflict to stop the use of landmines and explosive devices”, Aaron Greenberg concluded. The 4th of April is the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
1. The survey was funded by UNICEF as part of an Education and Peace-building initiative supported by the Government of Netherlands

No comments:

Post a Comment