Overseas Civilian Contractors

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LAOS: Female deminers attract fans but little funding

Photo: Phuong Tran/ IRIN Female deminers -- lots of photos, but not so much funding

At Irin Humanitarian News and Analysis

XIENGKHUANG, 4 January 2011 (IRIN) – In the two years since the Laos government set up the first team of women clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO), they have had lots of attention, but this has not translated into increased funding, says the UN, which is supporting government programmes.

“It was quite in vogue with donors to have all-female teams,” said John Dingley, the UN’s senior technical adviser working with the government’s UXO Lao clearance programme. “But more than that, these are good jobs and we want to create as many opportunities as possible for women in post-conflict settings.”

However, UXO Lao faces a US$1.4 million funding shortfall.

Laos is the most heavily bombed country, per capita, after more than two million tons of UXO – mostly cluster bomblets – were dropped between 1964 and 1973, according to the government’s National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action.

While there have been women working in the government’s clearance operation since it began in 1996, the government only started grouping all-female teams (albeit with a male mechanic/driver) in 2008, following the lead of the British demining NGO, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), which has worked in the country since 1994 and launched all-female UXO clearance teams in Laos in 2007.

Lou McGrath, MAG’s chief executive, described MAG’s “ladies first” initiative as a “genuine move to redress gender balance in the UXO sector”. Please read the entire article here

January 4, 2011 - Posted by | Demining, NGO's | , , , , ,

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