A Pioneer in the Field of
Humanitarian Mine Action:
Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA)
Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA) aims to effectively
contribute to humanitarian mine action and advocacy activities
in Afghanistan and other landmine-infested countries in order to
make the hometowns of refugees and displaced people land-mine
free and to implement essential rehabilitation and development
activities in mine-affected communities.
by Qadeem Khan Tariq, MCPA
|An MCPA Team Leader is briefing an internal
quality assurance team on the activities of his team.
Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA), an Afghanistan based international
NGO, was incorporated under the rules and regulations of the United
Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to
Afghanistan (UNOCHA) in March 1990 as an implementing partner of the
United Nations Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA). MCPA is also
registered as an international NGO in Afghanistan and the Republic of
Yemen. MCPA specializes in the field of humanitarian mine action
including General (Level One) Survey, Technical (Level Two) Survey,
Battle Area Survey, Socio-economic Impact Survey, Mine Detecting Dogs
Use and Mine Clearance Training. In addition, MCPA concentrates on the
development and maintenance of information management systems for mine
The mission of MCPA is to effectively contribute to
humanitarian mine action and advocacy activities in Afghanistan, in
particular, and worldwide, in general. In doing so, MCPA contributes to
making the land clear of the landmine threat , thus enabling safe
return of refugees and displaced people to their hometowns, resumption
of normal life and essential rehabilitation and development activities
in the mine-affected communities.
|An MCPA Team Leader is briefing his team
about operational safety just before the start of field
Surveying and Clearance
In Afghanistan, MCPA is responsible for all types of
mine surveys across the country. MCPA operates through its head office
in Kabul and three regional offices located in Kandahar, Jalalabad and
Herat with more than 300 staff members.
The current operational
capacity of MCPA in Afghanistan consists of 30 five-member technical
survey teams, three five-member battle area survey teams and one quick
response survey team. The survey output of MCPA is used by all mine
clearance organizations in Afghanistan with exception to HALO Trust,
which conducts survey operations for its own clearance teams. All the
technical survey teams of MCPA are supported by a set of two mine
detecting dogs from the Mine Detection and Dog Center (MDC). Each MCPA
survey team consists of four surveyors and a team leader, with one
surveyor or team leader trained in first aid.
Since its establishment in 1990, the survey teams of
MCPA have identified, marked and mapped more than 280 million square
meters of mine contaminated area and about 199 million square meters of
former battle area contaminated by UXO. While MCPA is primarily engaged
in landmine surveys, it also undertakes clearance as part of the
two-meter minefield boundary clearance and reduction of suspected mined
areas. So far, MCPA has reduced/cleared about 3 4 million square meter
mine-contaminated areas as part of the two-meter minefield boundary
clearance and reduction of suspected mined areas and destroyed 4,052
anti-personnel mines, 624 anti-tank mines and 4,200 UXO.
|An MCPA survey team during the technical
survey of a mine field.
Reduction of suspected mined areas during the survey
process is an important element of the technical survey as it saves
significant mine clearance resources. The clearance/reduction of the 34
million square meters suspected mined areas by MCPA has resulted in a
direct saving of about $20 million (U.S.) for MAPA, calculated at the
rate of $0.60 per square meter clearance cost in Afghanistan.
Management Information Systems
In addition to conducting survey operations in
Afghanistan, MCPA provides data management and planning support to MAPA
at its headquarter and regional level. The management information system
(MIS) developed and maintained by MCPA comprises of two main parts: a
well-developed and practical database and a geographical information
system (GIS). The MIS is mainly used to:
and reliable records of mine action operations for planning and
coordination of action activities and prioritization of mine affected
communities at a regional and national level.
appropriate/efficient allocation of mine action teams and other mine
action data and GIS information of mined and cleared areas for the use
of MAPA and other concerned organizations as required.
performance of individual mine action teams or organizations.
research and development of new demining procedures and mine clearance
The database is capable of recording and analyzing
the data for all aspects of the mine action operations in Afghanistan
and can produce outputs of a very wide range as required. The GIS can
provide geographical information from an individual minefield level to
national level. However, in order to be contemporary and compatible with
other mine action information management systems in the world, MCPA and
MAPA plan to replace the current mine action information management
system with the standard Management Information System for Mine Action
developed by Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD).
|A camel injured by an anti-personnel landmine is being rescued by members of an MCPA survey team.
Given MCPA’s experience in the field of mine action
surveys, in 1994 it entered an agreement with Vietnam Veterans of
America Foundation (VVAF) to assist in the research on the
socio-economic impacts of landmines in Afghanistan as part of the global
landmine impact survey. Results of the survey published in the form of a
report titled " When the Guns Fall Silent, the enduring legacy of
MCPA successfully executed the Training and
Monitoring Project, quality assurance component, of MAPA from 1993 to
1997. As part of this project, MCPA trained mine clearance personnel,
monitored mine action operations and investigated demining accidents in
order to find new, safer and cost effective methods for mine action
operations. During the execution of this project, MCPA trained more than
1,200 field staff of various mine action organizations operating within
MAPA’s structure. The training included fresh and re-fresher training
on various aspects of the mine action activities.
|A surveyor has just discovered an
Socio-economic Impact Study
In 1998, MCPA conducted Socio-economic Impact Study
of landmines and mine action operations in Afghanistan. The study
measured the socio-economic impact of landmines and mine action
operations and registered national indicators on various aspects of the
socio-economic impact of landmines as well as mine action operations.
Report for this study was published and distributed in late 1999. The
findings/results of the study indicated that the mine action operations
in Afghanistan have brought a significant improvement in the life
situation of people in the communities where mined areas were cleared.
In addition, the study indicates that the mine action operations have
contributed in several ways to the overall rehabilitation and
reconstruction process of the mine-affected communities. This project
was carried on in 1999-2001 by UNDP and the World Bank as part of the
Afghanistan Watching Brief project to build on the initial findings and
results of the study.
As part of its international involvement in mine
action, MCPA executed a Landmine Impact Survey in the Republic of Yemen
under a sub-agreement from the Survey Action Centre (SAC) and United
Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) during July 1999-July 2000.
The survey determined the socio economic impact of landmines and the
scope and size of the landmine contamination in the Republic of Yemen.
The Yemen Landmine Impact survey is the first of its kind implemented
to internationally recognized and accepted standards that received the
certification of the United Nations Certification Committee in August
2000. In a joint project with SAC and Cranfield Mine Action, MCPA also
provided technical support to the government of Yemen in the effective
and proper utilization of the survey results and developing a strategic
national mine action plan.
In 2000, MCPA entered an agreement with UNOPS to
develop local mine action capacity in Northern Iraq. The end product of
the project was supposed to be two functional local mine action
non-governmental mine action organizations. However, the project,
expected to be implemented in January-December 2001, was cancelled in
July 2001 pursuant to non-issuance of Iraqi visas for the international
staff of the project.
Being an active member of the Survey Working Group (SWG)
and chair of the Working Group on Mine Action in the framework of the
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), MCPA shares its
experience and lessons learnt with other mine action organizations
through participation in the international meetings, conferences,
seminars and workshops and provides policy advice to the ICBL on
humanitarian mine action.
In addition to being an active organization in the
field of humanitarian mine action, MCPA has been playing a key role in
the establishment and goal accomplishment of Afghan Campaign to Ban
Landmines (ACBL). Being the founding member and coordinating agency of
ACBL, MCPA, in consultation with the ACBL steering committee, implements
all the executive functions of the ACBL. The ACBL is a non-political and
non-governmental national forum with the membership of more than 40
national and international organizations campaigning for a total ban on
anti-personnel landmines at a national and international level. ACBL was
officially launched on 5 August 1995 in Kabul, Afghanistan in order to
represent Afghanistan, one of the most heavily mine-affected countries,
in the international efforts for achieving a total ban on anti-personnel
|Two landmine survivors with double
amputations have received wheel chairs from ACBL.
Through the wide range of activities including public
meetings/seminars, walks/rallies and publications, undertaken since its
launching, ACBL has been able to obtain wide-spread public support for
achieving a total ban on anti-personnel landmines and educate the
authorities regarding the devastating impacts of landmine use in the
country. As result of these efforts, one of the major achievements of
ACBL was the issuance of a decree by the Supreme Leader of Taliban
authorities imposing a total national ban on the production,
stockpiling, use and transfer of landmines at a national level. Recent
studies of ACBL could not find any evidence to the violation of the
decree by Taliban forces. ACBL is also in the process of persuading the
Northern Alliance to stop the reported use of landmines and follow the
suite. In addition, ACBL is an active member of the Coordination
Committee (CC) of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and
provides all possible support to it in achieving a total ban on anti-personnel
landmines at international level.
MCPA has successfully developed practical, accurate
and cost effective mine survey techniques and procedures after more than
a decade of practical fieldwork. In addition, MCPA is an organization
experienced in developing and maintaining information management system
for mine action. Both these components are considered essential elements
of a successful mine action program. Therefore, MCPA would be pleased to
share its experience and expertise with other organizations involved in
humanitarian mine action activities worldwide by providing technical
advice and by undertaking mine survey, mine clearance and mine training
projects in the mine affected countries.
*All photos courtesy of MCPA.
Qadeem Khan Tariq
Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA)
House # 58, Street 4,H2, Phase 2
Tel: + 92 91 810803/810194
Fax: + 92 91 812541