Supported by RENEW’s Risk Education and Victim Assistance / Disability Support, the people of Quang Tri Province are keeping themselves, their families and their neighbors safe, while assisting those who have already been injured by bombs and mines.
On Wednesday, 23 June 2021, 38-year-old farmer Phan Van That called the Quang Tri provincial hotline and reported that he had unearthed a wartime munition while constructing a fish pond on his land in Thuy Trung Village of Trung Nam Commune, Vinh Linh District, Quang Tri Province. A quick response team managed by RENEW / Norwegian People’s Aid identified the item as a “bombie” – the local term for a cluster submunition. The item was only ten metres away from local residences. So the team had to evacuate That and his neighbours to a safe distance, and then they destroyed the item in place. Mr. That told the team it was all thanks to his daughter, Phan Ha Giang, who had learned about the provincial hotline number during a risk education session at her school. She was able to teach her father how to report the explosive ordnance for timely and safe removal.
The explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) quick response to the emergency callout by the father of two in Vinh Linh is the 297th follow-up conducted by RENEW/NPA teams under funding of the United States Government in response to discoveries of bombs and mines that Quang Tri residents have reported via the hotline during the past six months.
According to statistics from the Quang Tri Mine Action Center (QTMAC), teams from RENEW / NPA, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and PeaceTrees Vietnam (PTVN) in 2017- 2021 conducted a total of 5,908 EOD tasks in response to sightings of explosive ordnance called in by Quang Tri residents via the explosive ordnance hotline.
Local people in Quang Tri Province have become the “eyes” and “ears” of demining teams, providing them with life-saving information about explosive ordnance so the EOD teams can safely remove and destroy the munitions. The three-year period 2018-2020 is the first time since the war ended in 1975 that there have been no injuries or fatalities in Quang Tri Province. That record still stands, today.
Through implementation of mine action pillars that supplement and support each other, Project RENEW staff are proud of having made contributions to the dramatic drop of accidents related to explosive ordnance in Quang Tri. While survey and clearance of explosive ordnance will continue for years to come in Quang Tri Province, it is equally important to continue widespread risk education, to refresh people’s knowledge about explosive ordnance risks.
With support from Irish Aid, Project RENEW’s Explosive Ordnance Risk Education program teaches girls, boys, women and men who must live with this danger how to be safe – and how to be part of the everyday solution to the problem. Leveraging the existing resources of local Youth Union officials and school teachers, the program provides teacher training, classroom materials and visits to RENEW’s dedicated education center to reach out to marginalized children in schools across the province. The EORE activities also have helped gradually build the trust among at-risk community, enhance the stronger acceptance from community to the organization’s visibility in its areas of operation, advocate and ensure the application of the rights of persons with disability and child rights and other marginalized, underserved, disadvantaged groups’ ones.
Through billboards and poster campaigns in the at-risk villages, RENEW helps maintain risk awareness in the adult population at the grassroots level, particularly farmers, construction workers and scrap metal gatherers. People are encouraged to join RENEW’s Community Reporting Network and to call in discoveries of unexploded munitions for rapid and safe removal by emergency response teams.
Since 2015, Project RENEW has organized 734 education sessions, providing explosive ordnance safety messages to a total of 196,570 people including girls, boys, women and men, persons with disability, and persons from ethnicity in RENEW’s operational areas during the past six years.
Incorporating the explosive ordnance hotline number in support of survey and clearance operations is a priority of Project RENEW’s Victim Assistance / Disability Support program under the funding of Irish Aid. On billboards and other pro-disabled items such as leaflets, T-shirts, and mugs which are distributed to persons with disabilities in general and war victims in specifically, the explosive ordnance hotline number is always printed in addition to pro-disabled messages calling for support to persons with disabilities.
From 2016 till now, under funding from Irish Aid, Project RENEW’s Victim Assistance / Disability Support program – apart from helping disabled persons improve their livelihoods and reintegrate culturally and socially – has increased the effectiveness of bomb and mine clearance in Quang Tri through installation and distribution of information products as follows:
- 5,500 leaflets distributed during information sessions and community activities.
- 1,820 polo shirts with pro-disabled messages distributed to disabled persons.
- 3,070 coffee mugs with pro-disabled messages and the hotline number.
- 36 billboards installed in nine districts calling for support to disabled persons.
According to Project RENEW’s Coordination Manager, Nguyen Hieu Trung, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Project RENEW. Today RENEW has become a highly efficient collaboration among the government of Quang Tri Province and international non-governmental organizations here to address the problem of explosive ordnance in Quang Tri.
“This is the result of the commitment and hard work of our highly trained staff and the continued support of our donors and partners,” said Trung. “At Project RENEW we take pride in our positive contributions toward realization of the Quang Tri Province’s goal to be free from the impact of explosive ordnance by 2025.”
While sustaining the comprehensive model to address consequences of the war in Quang Tri, Project RENEW has been exploring possibilities and opportunities to share our best practices and lessons learnt with other provinces in central Vietnam still plagued with explosive ordnance. All of these efforts are moving us toward a safe Vietnam, where people can live without fear of death or injury from bombs and mines.
Project RENEW was established in 2001 as a joint effort between the government of Quang Tri Province and interested INGOs to “restore the environment and neutralize the effects of the war”.
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) has worked in Vietnam since 2007 and collaborated with national and provincial authorities to implement capacity development, survey and clearance projects in Hanoi, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue and Quang Binh provinces.
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