Angola remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, with over 73 million square meters of land contaminated and over 1,100 known and suspected minefields. Millions of landmines and other unexploded bombs are still scattered throughout the country – the legacy of over 40 years of conflict.
MAG has been working in Angola since 1994 and has operations in the east of the country in Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul and Moxico provinces. In the last decade alone, and with the support of the Angolan government, MAG has cleared more than 10 million square metres of minefields for communities—the equivalent of 1,400 football pitches.
Angolan women are demining their country, breaking down stereotypes while earning a stable living. Three decades of civil conflict between 1975 and 2002 left some 73 million square meters (18,000 acres) of Angola contaminated by land mines, which continue to claim lives and stifle agriculture and development. While the job of demining was once assumed too dangerous and demanding for women, the HALO Trust launched an initiative in 2017 to recruit 100 female deminers in Angola. Today, close to 400 women have answered the call, with several dozen more in training.
The work of detecting and deactivating mines is challenging, with days starting at 4:50 a.m. and visits home just once a month. But the steady income of $350 goes a long way in a country with an average monthly income of around $35, according to 2018-19 data. So far only a fraction of the contaminated land has been cleared, though deminers are making progress. The province of Huambo, once one of the most heavily mined areas of the country, was fully cleared of minefields in 2021. “Every time we destroy a mine, I feel proud,” says deminer Cecilia Manuel. “When you take away the mines, you make the people free.”
Sources: NPR, Mines Advisory Group