From clearing explosive weapons to helping entrepreneurs launch their own businesses to assisting people with disabilities and mine victims, Humanity & Inclusion has stepped up its actions in northern Chad since 2017.
Rachel Datché, 33, was traveling to see her sister when she stepped on an anti-personnel mine in Fada. After her right leg was amputated, she received an artificial limb and post-surgical care at the orthopedic and rehabilitation center in Kabalaye in 2020. Rachel (pictured above) is one of the participants in PRODECO, a vast development program coordinated by Humanity & Inclusion in consortium with three other NGOs. The four-year project to help restore the economic sustainability of the local population will wrap at the end of 2021.
“This wide-reaching program includes mine clearance operations, risk prevention, victim assistance, rehabilitation and economic assistance,” explains Jean-Michel Mathiam, who manages Humanity & Inclusion’s actions in northern Chad.
Legacy of war
The Borku and Ennedi regions were ravaged by civil war and conflict with neighboring Libya in the 1980s, leaving land contaminated by anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. Humanity & Inclusion recently completed its mine clearance operations in northern Chad, which helps people living in rural and agricultural areas earn a living by ensuring the roads leading to their villages are clear of mines.
In Faya and Kirdimi, more than 740 acres of land have been decontaminated through weapons clearance operations. More than 1,000 mines were destroyed by 120 deminers coordinated by Humanity & Inclusion and Mine Advisory Group MAG.
Teams also tested a drone mine detection system. The technology will revolutionize mine clearance operations worldwide.
Supporting small businesses
Since Oreike Bandy’s divorce four years ago, the 38-year-old mother has struggled to feed her family by selling bread at a market in Fada. She’s one of more than 1,000 people who have received a financial boost through a social fund to start her own business and become financially independent.
“I joined the village savings and loan organization [AVEC] and put aside some of my earnings each week to invest in the AVEC. This enables me to renew my stock of food products,” Oreike, pictured above, explains.
Ache Guene, 38, lost her husband four years ago and was suddenly faced with the difficult task of raising their five children alone. With help from Humanity & Inclusion, she also set up her own business and lifted her family out of poverty.
Maimouna Abass, a 30-year-old widow and mother of two children, now runs her own market stall in Fada, where she sells biscuits to earn a living.
"My life has changed. I can reinvest my profits in my business,” she says.
In 2017, Humanity & Inclusion launched a large-scale development program called PRODECO in partnership with three other NGOs: Mine Advisory Group (MAG), the Swiss Foundation for Demining (FSD), and Secours catholique et développement (SECADEV). Humanity & Inclusion recently completed its mine clearance operations in northern Chad. The organization will continue identifying people with disabilities, primarily victims of mines or explosive remnants of war, in villages and communities to participate in the project through 2021.
In March, Humanity & Inclusion finalized its two-year drone experimentation in Northern Chad with its partners Mobility Robotics and FlyingLabs Côte d’Ivoire.
For the first time in the history of humanitarian mine action, drone flights were operated with Infra-Red in a real environment alongside weapons clearance operations.
Throughout the two-year project, Humanity & Inclusion tested drones to map and inspect hazardous areas. Teams in Chad captured photos and videos remotely to help deminers inspect unreachable locations and identify hazards on the surface and also created high-resolution maps to study signs of contamination such as craters or traces of landmine accidents involving animals or vehicles.
Humanity & Inclusion and its partners achieved a world-first in humanitarian mine action when teams used a thermal sensor flown on a small drone to locate buried anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines in desert minefields.
Teams faced daily challenges including remote locations, road hazards, extreme heat up to 124°F, sandstorms, food and water difficulties, scorpions, and landmine and explosive ordnances.
During those two years:
- More than 100 drone missions took place in 65 locations
- Travel to hazardous areas from the base took between 30 minutes and 1.5 days
- More than 35 polygons and 19 miles of strip minefields were mapped
- More than 2,500 landmines were located with the thermal sensor
- Dozens of nights were spent in the desert under the stars
- Six Chadian deminers were trained to operate small drones
This innovative project was made possible with generous funding from The Belgian Directorate-General Development and the European Union, and with support from people of the Haut Commissariat National de Déminage au Tchad.