by: Cristina Borsatti
Since March 2016, FSD has been implementing a survey and clearance project in areas recently liberated from ISIS in central and northern Iraq. Most of the beneficiaries of the rural communities targeted by the program base their entire income on agricultural activities, which have stopped due to ISIS insurgency and occupation. Agricultural fields were littered with Improvised Explosive Devices used as an early warning system to create diversion and channeling of security forces invading their positions and eventually preventing individuals from fleeing their villages. The immediate socio–economic effects of contaminated agricultural land are multiple and constitute one of the most important driving factors for prevention of people returning to their areas of origin. They not only include loss of income but also lead to humanitarian aid dependency, non-return to areas of origin and non–effective coping strategies.
FSD clearance teams have been removing explosive ordnance (EO) which were blocking valuable agricultural land, roads and water sources, to support the safe return of internally displaced people by releasing land and giving the beneficiaries the chance to improve their living conditions. Approximately, 5’562’370 square meters of agricultural areas has been cleared. 8’658 improvised explosives devices (IED) and 358 unexploded ordnance (UXO) were found and rendered safe.
Explosive ordnance (EO) clearance of agricultural land ensures access for communities that are highly dependent on farming as the main livelihood income source. Our teams ensure that mechanisms of communication with communities are in place to solve existing conflicts concerning access and define priorities. FSD also targets access to agricultural infrastructures, like for example, irrigation canals that otherwise would have not been accessible, preventing communities from restoring their existing livelihoods.
Improving access helps to rebuild functional employment opportunities and markets: communities have been disrupted due to broken supply chain and it’s linked to a better food and nutrition security.