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Changing tactics: How HALO Trust went from demining to transporting vital medical supplies

Special Interest Programme / Partner story

Rosa and one of her daughters eating sugar cane grown on their land

As Princess Diana said, “the mine is a stealthy killer. Long after conflict is ended, its innocent victims die or are wounded singly, in countries of which we hear little. Their lonely fate is never reported.” Zimbabwe is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. These landmines were laid by security forces during the Liberation war to prevent movement in and out of the country. Forty years later they have killed or injured numerous innocent civilians and thousands of cattle

This is why the HALO Trust, an organisation devoted to helping people in countries recovering from conflict, became determined to aid the Zimbabwean Government in its national strategy to demine the country completely by 2025. Having received funding from Oak for a three-year project to assist with the clearance of minefield in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central province, it has successfully completed the first year. Already the project has surpassed its target number of beneficiaries. People like Rosa (pictured above) and her family no longer feel anxious about living in close proximity to minefields. She can use her land for grazing, and it is safe for her children to play. She says, “What HALO is doing is something else. Before, every time I couldn’t see my kids I worried. I knew that if they strayed into the minefield anything could happen… [now] we are free. We can leave our kids alone and know that nothing will happen to them, and I am happy.”

In March 2020, HALO destroyed its 100,000th landmine since it first started working in Zimbabwe. The organisation will keep striving to rid the country of mines, thereby enabling rural communities to live safely, as well as helping to spur the economic development of the region.

In response to Covid-19, the Zimbabwean Government imposed a complete lockdown. While HALO put its demining operations on pause, its team took the opportunity to assist the government’s pandemic response taskforce by providing logistical support to the Ministry of Health. Its teams have delivered personal protective equipment and medical supplies to hospitals and clinics across eight provinces. HALO helped the Government’s Track and Trace efforts  and had vehicles transporting technicians around to monitor access to proper water, sanitation and hygiene. In addition, while applying hygiene and social distancing protocols, HALO’s drivers have been supporting rural clinics by transporting medical staff to conduct education sessions, attend trainings, and conduct facility assessments.

HALO is now winding down these operations and returning to its core focus of demining. At Oak, we are impressed by the organisation’s flexibility and resilience. Learn more about how HALO is working with local governments and charities to provide expertise and logistical support to help fight the spread of Covid-19 on its website.

HALO has received funding from Oak Foundation for a three‐year project to assist with the clearance of minefields in Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe. This is the first humanitarian demining project supported by Oak and it is funded through the Special Interest Programme.