Jab Swart outlines the Socio-economic impact of the Albanian Mine Action Programme
Online PR News – 12-September-2010 – – The population of the Kukes prefecture (almost 120,000—of which 75 percent live in rural areas) is among the poorest in Albania, if not in all of Europe. Landmines and UXO directly affect 39 villages. The average size of a farm is 1.5 ha, and main activities consist of grazing, farming, gathering firewood and other subsistence livelihoods. Poverty and the pressure for land are further exacerbated by the fact that 75 percent of the terrain in the north is mountainous, not including land contaminated by mines and UXO. Although most people have been informed and educated about the threat of mines, some still risk getting killed and injured by working in mine-infested areas because of economic pressure. From 1999 to January of 2003, 202 mine/UXO accidents happened. Twenty-seven people were killed and 216 were injured in northeast Albania. Approximately one-third of these victims were of the economically active age group (15–30), and half of them were injured or killed while farming, grazing cattle or going to school. Jab Swart.
The mine problem has also had an impact on infrastructure development. In 2002, 88,379 sq m had to be cleared by Danish Church Aid-Action by Churches Together (DCA-ACT) and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) for the construction of a critical road connection between Bajram Curri and Gjakova. The impact of mine contamination on the social environment should not be underestimated. Some water sources in northeast Albania are still blocked by mined areas. The entire Albania/Kosovo border, prime land for eco-tourism development, is a wasteland because of mines and UXO.
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