Landmine Monitor 2008

Mine/ERW Risk Education

Key Developments

Although many individual mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) risk education (RE) projects and programs have been evaluated, no agency or operator has yet sought to conduct a broader assessment of the effectiveness of RE. In terms of monitoring, the total number of beneficiaries receiving RE remained one of the few quantifiable indicators for this activity in 2007–2008. Available reporting indicated that more than 8.4 million people received direct RE in 2007, an increase from 7.3 million people in 2006, and the highest level of RE ever recorded by Landmine Monitor.[1]

While more people seem to be benefiting from mine/ERW RE, the quantity of RE is no longer generally viewed as the decisive measure of its success. In 2007–2008, increased efforts were also made towards sustainability of RE and its integration into broader risk reduction strategies. Some programs moved from simply providing information through an educational approach to encouraging risk minimization among intentional risk-takers. However, as UNICEF stated at the intersessional Standing Committee meetings, the absence of hard evidence for RE’s effectiveness continues to impede efforts to improve project and program performance.[2]

Risk Education in 2007–2008

During the reporting period, RE activities were identified in 61 countries, the same number as the previous reporting period.[3] More than two-thirds of RE activities occurred in States Parties (42),[4] while the remainder (19) took place in states not party.[5] RE activities also took place in areas not internationally recognized as states.[6] RE took place in 58 countries and five areas reporting casualties in 2007.

RE was conducted in countries with severe contamination, high casualty rates, and long-established mine action programs, both in States Parties and in states not party, notably Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Lao PDR. RE was provided to more than 300,000 people each in 10 countries. Together, this accounts for nearly three-quarters of the total RE beneficiaries worldwide in 2007 (6.1 million).

Provision of RE compared to casualty rates in 2007
Rick Education Graph

In 2007–2008, emergency RE was conducted in the Gambia due to mine incidents and a refugee influx from Senegal’s restive Casamance region. Also, due to new antivehicle mine contamination, Niger took steps to begin RE, but no significant program had started by June 2008.

RE was increased in Mozambique as an emergency response to an ammunition storage area (ASA) explosion in March 2007. RE levels remained high in Lebanon due to continued (cluster) submunition and other contamination. In the remaining countries RE generally increased, where known, with the exception of a decrease of by almost half in Sri Lanka (despite the needs from the escalating conflict) and a significant decrease in Vietnam.

As part of a broader mine action program, Egypt and Libya initiated RE planning in 2008; Libya had provided RE in 2006 but not in 2007. Landmine Monitor was unable to identify RE activities in Serbia and Turkey in the current reporting period, although it had noted activities previously.

Countries where RE was provided to more than 300,000 beneficiaries in 2007















Sri Lanka









Strategic Frameworks and Coordination

Coordination among RE implementers (with affected communities and other mine action operators) and a measurable strategy is key to the effectiveness of RE. In 2007–2008, 24 countries and one area reported having both RE coordination and a strategy; 21 were States Parties. An additional nine countries and one area had RE coordination bodies, but no strategy. In countries with the largest RE programs, mine action centers had the lead coordination role, often with UNICEF—the UN focal point for RE[7]—providing technical and financial support (and, in some cases, serving as the de facto coordinator). However, there was increased focus on building sustainable national RE capacity, often actively promoted by UNICEF. To this end, efforts were made to involve ministries, local authorities, and community institutions, such as schools and health centers, in RE dissemination and monitoring.

In many countries, military, police, or other security forces are reported to provide some, if limited RE, particularly in areas exposed to conflict. In India and Pakistan, the respective armies were reportedly providing awareness messages to civilians in border areas. Organizations linked to non-state armed groups (NSAGs) provided RE in Lebanon, Myanmar, and Somalia in 2007.

Coordination is only effective if information is shared between RE providers, mine action operators, and the affected communities to ensure that RE can adapt to real or emerging needs. Key indicators of effective planning include: the degree of coverage in areas with the majority of, or new, casualties; the ability to reach the greatest at-risk groups; and the ability to address trends in the causes of casualties. For example, Sudan’s UN Mine Action Office coordinated RE through regional working groups to adjust activities according to emerging needs at the local level. However, the entry of new RE implementers reportedly caused challenges for local coordination. In BiH, a number of operators commented that coordination efforts were focused on producing strategic documents rather than on facilitating cooperation between actors. In Cambodia, a largely “one-size-fits-all” approach to RE resulted in insufficient targeting of the most at-risk groups.

In 2007–2008, some progress was made in developing and/or implementing RE standards. In 2008, Lao PDR revised the standards it developed in 2007. A specific reference to community liaison was removed even though this was the most common RE delivery method; instead, standards focused more on community participation. Bosnia and Herzegovina introduced quality assurance procedures for its national RE standards. Its standing operating procedures (SOPs) made no reference to community participation but had strict accreditation requirements for all providers.

As of August 2008, at least 31 States Parties had used Form I of the Article 7 report to report on RE, an increase of three compared to July 2007, but in several cases reporting was not relevant or measurable, or was unchanged from past years.


In 2008, UNICEF observed some challenges for RE. Most importantly, it noted that considerable awareness-raising had occurred, but this and the often basic messages disseminated had not led to sustained behavioral change. UNICEF also saw the need to adapt RE provision to changing country situations as they evolve from emergency to development phases. This was hampered, however, by the absence of data and standardized evaluations to demonstrate RE effectiveness, and by the fact that RE was often seen as a marginal activity in comparison with other mine action components.[8]

In March 2008, participants at a meeting of experts on the future of RE, jointly organized by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and UNICEF, agreed that RE continued to be an important component of broader risk reduction efforts, and that the sector had become increasingly professional. However, participants also recognized that many RE projects continued to be poorly designed or implemented, and failed to make the requisite changes for sustainable and integrated programming. It was noted that national authorities and RE operators are responsible for monitoring and ensuring the relevance and quality of RE projects. The creation of a new “steering group” was proposed, to review developments in RE and contribute to the planned review of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) for RE.


In 2007–2008, several RE assessments were conducted which provided some insight into the successes of RE and possibilities for improvement or change (see relevant country reports in this edition of Landmine Monitor for further details):

Albania (2007)

A GICHD evaluation noted that “it is reasonable to conclude that in Albania the extensive nature of the [RE] program has reduced accidents and casualties.” However, no direct connection between RE and reduced incidents could be readily made, and it was recommended to include assurances about cleared land in RE messaging.

BiH (2007)

An evaluation of school-based RE found that, although certified RE materials were developed, RE teaching was not standardized and it was unclear how schools actually participated and what resources were used. A second evaluation found that RE SOPs were too restrictive and reduced community participation, and that community liaison failed to address the RE needs of communities where no clearance was likely in the near future. Due to low casualty rates, the small number of risk-takers, and sufficient national capacity, UNICEF support to RE activities was discontinued. Neither evaluation was able to establish a causative relationship between RE implementation and declining casualty rates.

Ethiopia (2007–2008)

A GICHD needs assessment for UNICEF concluded that there was little RE knowledge in the Somali region, and that RE was urgently needed due to the high number of casualties and ongoing conflict. A community-based approach supported by external actors and applying lessons learned from other regions in Ethiopia was recommended.

Lebanon (2007)

An assessment for UNICEF noted that people had high RE awareness but that behavior change was unlikely if no economic alternatives were provided to risk-taking activities that generated much needed income or provided essential fuel, food, or water. It further noted that the lack of a unified strategy was a challenge, that materials and communication skills needed improvement, and that it was essential to introduce participatory techniques into the RE provided.

Nepal (2008)

Only 2.5% of respondents to a KAP (knowledge, awareness and practices) survey in the most affected districts reported RE activities in their communities. The survey noted that people were unaware of where explosive devices could be encountered and how to practice safe behaviors. However, it was also noted that exposure to the mine/ERW threat was moderate and communities had more urgent priorities, such as basic sanitation.

Tajikistan (2007)

A UNICEF evaluation found that RE activities were not adequately coordinated and unable to fully address the mine/ERW threat, partly due to incomplete casualty and survey data. It recommended that trainers providing RE in schools could expand their activities elsewhere, and that demining teams should receive RE training to build community liaison capacity.

At-risk Groups

In most mine/ERW-affected countries the main at-risk groups are usually men and boys involved in outdoor subsistence activities or recreation, returning refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), nomads, and poor minority groups. In some countries, however, the traditional work of females brings them into mine/ERW risk situations, which requires specific targeting. In Yemen, women and girls are a high-risk group, but because of cultural factors could not be reached without support from female NGO RE trainers, who were not active in RE during the reporting period due to lack of funding.

Refugees or IDPs receive RE in camps or prior to return, for example in Thailand and Kenya. In 2007–2008, IDPs were a main focus of operators in Uganda, where RE implementers responded to increased IDP resettlement by extending activities to camps and resettlement areas in relevant districts. Due to escalating conflict in Chad, RE provision to IDPs was urgently needed, but the response fell short of what was required.

Particular groups can suddenly become priority targets for RE, as for example in Afghanistan, where alleged new mine use caused more incidents while traveling. This prompted certain operators to include travelers or truck drivers in their programs. Similarly, although no formal RE program existed in Niger, unions and some NGOs alerted their drivers about the new mine threat.

Many countries, however, including some of those with the largest RE programs, remained unable to identify or target those most at risk in 2007–2008. For example, many operators in Sudan noted that RE activities were carried out on the basis of perceived threat, as reliable casualty data (including the type of explosive device and activities being undertaken) was not available, which prevented specific groups from being targeted.

Intentional risk taking

Risk-taking behavior is often linked to economic activities. In response, an increasing number of RE implementers adopted measures that allow mitigation of risk-taking behavior for people who continued to expose themselves to mine/ERW threats even after having received RE. Strategies included a move to a broader risk reduction model with better linkages with clearance and development programs, as is said to occur in Angola. In Colombia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also adopted an integrated response, including RE and broader risk reduction approaches, seeking improved marking of mine/ERW-affected areas, as well as other humanitarian assistance (such as building wells) to reduce the socio-economic impact of mines/ERW based on the communities’ needs. In Lao PDR, a shift was made from the information and education model to a communication approach designed to stimulate behavior change through discussions of options and risk minimization for intentional adult risk-takers.

Economic development can produce the desired behavior change, as for example in Chechnya, where extensive installation of gas to homes coincided with the sustained reduction of mine/ERW casualties previously occurring while gathering firewood for fuel.

In some cases, legal measures in conjunction with RE can stem intentional risk-taking activities. The reduction of casualties in Cambodia is partly attributed to continued police efforts to inform at-risk populations about scrap metal and ERW legislation and sanctions for failure to respect it. A study of scrap metal collectors/dealers in Vietnam found that creating a legal framework (in combination with economic alternatives) might induce behavioral change. It noted that scrap collectors are usually aware of the risks they are taking but that current RE methods are insufficient to bring about behavior change, because they still focus more on awareness-raising than on finding alternatives.

Adapting messages to new threats

In many countries, a continued rise in mine/ERW casualties might show that, while the mine threat in some places has decreased through clearance, the ERW/improvised explosive device (IED) threat, and particularly handling of ERW by young males, is a key challenge for RE messaging. Changing messages to address the specific threat is a way of targeting particular at-risk groups. In Nepal, a new locally appropriate message, “Don’t Keep Bombs in Your House” was added to the universal “Don’t Touch!” In Peru, where RE had focused mainly on people living near electricity pylons mined in the 1980s, a campaign was started in 2007 to raise awareness of the new threat of IEDs in coca fields, which had led to a significant increase in casualties.

The effectiveness of RE messages is also affected by the language used. For example, in Lebanon most materials were found to be too complicated for the low education level of the specific target population. In Afghanistan, however, high illiteracy rates are said to have little effect on RE effectiveness as leaflets are not distributed without an accompanying RE session. In Lao PDR, materials were developed in the languages of local ethnic groups, and in Ecuador RE messages were translated into the language of the local indigenous community. In Jammu and Kashmir in India, warnings in an official state language (Urdu) were added to mine hazard signs in 2007 after a public civil society campaign.

Coverage and Response

“Adequate” coverage means that a program was capable of providing appropriate RE for at-risk groups in known mine/ERW-affected localities and was able to respond to emerging situations. Landmine Monitor found RE broadly adequate in 23 states and four areas. However, most of these could still achieve a more comprehensive provision of services by improving responses to specific risk behaviors.

“Inadequate” means that appropriate RE was not delivered on a scale to match the threat or geographical coverage necessary. Inadequate RE was recorded in 38 countries in 2007–2008, compared to 34 countries in 2006, and in two areas in both 2007–2008 and 2006.

Adequate RE coverage

States Parties












FYR Macedonia



El Salvador




States not party




South Korea


Other areas






Inadequate RE Coverage

States Parties

























States not party










Sri Lanka





Other areas


Western Sahara


While the number of countries reported as providing adequate RE in 2007–2008 did not change significantly it should be noted that many, or most, RE programs operated without adequate data to recognize particular areas requiring RE or to target specific at-risk groups. Most countries use casualty data (often incomplete) or Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) results for RE planning, although in many cases LIS data is out of date or seen as inaccurate by RE implementers. In Angola, operators noted that the IDP influx and movement has changed the impact level assigned to communities; also, not all provinces were surveyed for security reasons. In Iraq and Sudan, the LIS contained no clear assessment of RE needs.

Security concerns can obviously hamper the adequacy, and even the delivery of RE, as in both Afghanistan and Iraq where RE coverage and coordination is considered to be good in certain areas but severely limited in areas with ongoing conflict. Increased conflict reduced RE coverage and capacity in Sri Lanka, blocking access to some areas and also forcing a number of RE trainers to become IDPs.

Some countries have adequate RE coverage in some affected areas, but not in others. In northern Albania, RE programs provide more than adequate coverage for the affected population but there is little or no coverage in other parts of the country affected by abandoned explosive ordnance. Some countries with a small or residual threat, such as Belarus and the Philippines, have inadequate geographic coverage of RE activities for at-risk groups, although the threat itself is small.


RE activities in 2007 included: emergency RE; education and training; community-based RE (training local committees, parent-to-child, child-to-child, child-to-parent, public gatherings or performances); and public information dissemination (through broadcast and print media, usually for a general audience, but sometimes targeted to at-risk groups such as seasonal workers, hunters, or farmers). With the increasing focus on sustainability, community liaison (CL)—while still common—was less emphasized by operators than in the previous reporting period when it was often promoted as the future of RE. Nevertheless, increased CL was a specific requirement in some countries, such as Sudan.

A 2007 GICHD study of CL looked at the opportunities the approach offered to several mine action programs and the extent to which it was being used. One of the case studies, on Angola, found that CL was most associated with RE activities and that it would be beneficial to expand CL to the broader risk reduction program, including clearance and community development, in which RE was seen as the purely educational component. In 2007, operators were increasingly referring to CL within the broader framework of risk reduction, but the study noted that if CL is to be pursued as a critical participatory approach in mine action there is a need for standardization of approaches and agreement on a set of minimum standards.

Emergency risk education

Emergency RE was still needed in 2007–2008, due not only to conflict, but also to particular events such as flooding or sudden casualty increases. In Sri Lanka, UNICEF and its partner organizations tried to balance existing RE priorities with new RE needs due to escalated conflict. Emergency RE was also used to address ERW contamination following ASA explosions in 2007–2008, including in Albania and Mozambique. Mozambique also needed to use emergency RE in response to flooding in some mine-affected provinces. Even in areas where there is no need for a formal RE program, residual RE capacity is useful. For example, HALO Trust no longer operates an RE program in Abkhazia, but it responded with immediate localized RE when a river brought a mine into a cleared area.

In-school risk education

Integrating RE into school curricula is one of the main means of making RE sustainable, and of reaching many people, including at-risk groups. The approach also has limitations, however, in targeting children who do not attend school, who often are precisely those children coming into contact with mines/ERW while conducting livelihood activities. Children, both in school and out, are also sometimes encouraged to collect scrap metal for economic gain.

A few examples of integration of RE in school curricula in 2007–2008 were:

  • Albania pilot-tested integration of RE into state school curricula, mostly in mine-affected areas, but also in some of the many areas affected by abandoned explosive ordnance that have not been exposed to RE;
  • in Afghanistan, the national mine action center signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Education in 2007 to include RE in the school curriculum and establish an RE department in the ministry; and
  • a UNICEF pilot project for in-school RE in Tajikistan was completed in late 2007 and incorporated in Ministry of Education planning.

In some countries, however, such as Armenia, RE through military training courses was increased at the expense of humanitarian RE programs. RE was included in a secondary school military preparedness curriculum, rather than as a general health and safety issue, despite previous UNICEF assistance in teacher training and its subsequent expression of concern.

Community reporting and mine action responses

RE often tells beneficiaries to inform responsible authorities about suspected dangerous items. If most community reports of dangerous objects are investigated and discovered, mines/ERW are cleared and community trust can be maintained as the effectiveness of the RE information is affirmed. In Nicaragua, RE teams responded to 218 public reports of mine/ERW discoveries in 2007, which after verification, resulted in the destruction of 4,845 items of ordnance (164 mines and 4,681 ERW).

Conversely, if there is no response to reports of suspected dangerous items, or if the response is too slow, community perceptions of the validity of RE, and mine action, are negatively affected. In Uganda, reports of suspicious devices occasionally resulted in ad hoc clearance, but response times were long. In Afghanistan, one RE provider received 232 clearance requests in 2007. Although all requests were passed on to the area mine action center, there was no evidence that they had resulted in clearance. In Lebanon, a number of operators noted that communities were unsure to whom to report mines/ERW they encountered. An assessment by the Landmines Resource Center noted that the army did not respond to community requests to clear mines/ERW, and that community members were sometimes afraid to report mines/ERW for fear of being accused of involvement in illegal activities and arrested.

Article 6(3) of the Mine Ban Treaty calls on each State Party “in a position to do so” to provide assistance for mine awareness programs. There is no specific requirement on affected states to provide RE to those at risk. The Convention on Cluster Munitions should provide strong support for programs in areas heavily affected by submunitions. The convention specifically obliges affected States Parties to conduct “risk reduction education to ensure awareness among civilians living in or around cluster munition contaminated areas of the risks posed by such remnants,” taking into consideration the provisions of Article 6 on international cooperation and assistance.[9] In conducting RE, States Parties are also required to take into account international standards, including the IMAS.[10]


[1] This increase is partly explained by an expansion of certain programs but also by specific activities in response to emergency situations, such as flooding, new mine contamination, and ASA explosions. As in past years, this global total is only an estimate based on the information provided to Landmine Monitor by RE providers, who were not always able to provide exact statistics or complete information. Where possible, RE delivered through mass media was excluded, but the total almost certainly includes people receiving RE from more than one provider or on more than one occasion. According to Landmine Monitor, RE was provided to 6.4 million people in 2005, 6.25 million in 2004, 8.4 million in 2003, and 4.8 million in 2002.

[2] Statement of UNICEF, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 5 June 2008.

[3] Estonia was included in the 2006 total of 63, but has been removed due to the perceived lack of need for a significant RE program. Latvia was removed from the 2006 list because it then reported, as in 2007, that no RE programs existed and no updates were provided on the Latvian EOD School, which has previously conducted RE.

[4] Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, FYR Macedonia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Bangladesh reported some “mine-related” training activities but not enough to constitute actual RE. Kuwait reported RE activities in Form I of its initial Article 7 report, but it was not clear which activities were current and which were planned for the future. Moldova was not included because, although in 2007 the national Red Cross society introduced an optional school-based human rights course that included a module on landmines, it does not have a full RE program.

[5] Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia (limited to Chechnya), Somalia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Vietnam.

[6] Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Palestine, Somaliland, Taiwan, and Western Sahara.

[7] UNICEF, “UNICEF in emergencies: Landmines,”

[8] Statement of UNICEF, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 5 June 2008.

[9] Article 4(2)(e), Convention on Cluster Munitions. Article 6 provides that “each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance… to identify, assess and prioritise needs and practical measures in terms of…risk reduction education…as provided in Article 4 of this Convention.” See also, Article 5, and Technical Annex, Article 2, Convention on Conventional Weapons Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War.

[10] Article 4(3), Convention on Cluster Munitions.