What is mine risk education? Throughout the mine action process, communication with local populations is essential, not only to gather information and data about mined areas, but also to raise their awareness of the dangers of anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war. This is referred to as mine risk education or “awareness”.
Afghanistan. Mine awareness training by Afghan Red Crescent Society female trainer to a female group© ICRC / J. Sohlberg / réf. af-e-00262
To support themselves or their families in economies disrupted by war, civilians often have no choice but to collect water and firewood, farm or graze livestock in areas they know are contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war. Mine incident data has consistently shown that although victims often were aware of the risks they were taking when injured, they felt that they had no alternative but to enter the dangerous area on account of economic reasons or basic survival needs. Simply informing people about the dangers of mines, or the location of dangerous areas is not enough in such circumstances. Instead, the challenge is to reduce the need to take risks by providing interim alternatives such as safe access to water or fuel sources. Mine risk education is therefore a crucial complementary activity to mine clearance and provides an essential link between local communities and mine clearance operations.
Mine risk education is an important component of the mine action operations of the ICRC. The ICRC is currently conducting such activities direc tly, or through National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies , in 25 countries around the world. Although the ICRC does not directly engage in clearance activities, it works closely with national authorities, United Nations mine action centers and non-governmental mine clearance operators. Its community-based approach to mine action contributes to effective and timely mine clearance.