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Last Updated: 17 December 2012

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination in Uganda is the result of armed conflict and civil strife, especially over the past two decades with regards to the Lord’s Resistance Army, a non-state armed group (NSAG).


Mined areas were identified in the border areas with South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Luwero Triangle in the center of the country, the West Nile region, and the Rwenzori Mountains.[1] In 2008–2010, Uganda confirmed 12 minefields in Agoro and Ngomoromo in Lamwo and Kitgum districts in northern Uganda, bordering South Sudan. In 2011 during non-technical survey (NTS), an additional 34 mined areas were identified in the districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Maracha in western Uganda, and the Lamwo and Amuru districts in the north of the country.[2] As of June 2012, with only two more months before its Article 5 clearance deadline, it was unclear how Uganda would meet its goal.

Although the government of Uganda stated at the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties in December 2011 that it would meet its extended 1 August 2012 deadline, in May 2012 Uganda stated they would finish only 80% of the remaining work by the end of July.[3] Uganda said that heavy rains in June and July could be the biggest challenge Uganda faced in meeting its deadline because rains can limit access by blocking roads and destroying bridges.[4]

However, Danish Demining Group (DDG), the technical advisors to National Mine Action Program (NMAP) since 2008, did not report rain as an impediment to clearance. In fact, they reported clearance rates among the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and the Uganda Police Force (UPF) in 2012 to be satisfactory and that they were manually clearing areas to the international average rate of productivity.[5]

On 15 August 2012, records of the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) showed Uganda had cleared or discredited 40 of 46 minefields covering 1,666,160m2 and that it had six minefields in Agoro under manual clearance, covering 103,655m2, and only 300m2 in Bibia to complete.[6]

Landmine problem in Uganda and progress through 15 August 2012[7]

District, Location

Mined areas

Areas cleared

Area cleared (m2)

Area discredited (m2)

Total area released (m2)

Antipersonnel mines found






















Bundibugyo/Kakuka, Kabango




























On 9 August 2012, the Daily Monitor, a Kampala newspaper, reported Uganda had not cleared all remaining mined areas by 1 August and therefore, by implication, had missed its deadline. At a weapons destruction exercise in Acholi sub-region, the 4th Division Public Relations Officer, Lt. Isaac Oware, said, “Although we are now done with the first phase of the programme, we shall continue to demine and ensure that all guns that are in illegal hands are collected and destroyed to enable peace return to the region.”[8] Two days earlier, Al Jazeera had reported that mine clearance was expected to be completed later in 2012.[9]

On 13 August 2012, the Uganda Mine Action Centre (UMAC) informed the Monitor that the government of Uganda had written to the president of the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties and informed him that Uganda had not met its extended Article 5 deadline because of difficult weather and that more time was needed to verify cleared areas, but in any case by December 2012 all work will have been completed.[10]

DDG cites additional reasons for Uganda missing the deadline: UMAC was unable to achieve an acceptable rate of clearance productivity until early 2012; two previously cleared mined areas were re-cleared after a demining accident involving a UPDF deminer in November 2011; and there were delays in releasing personnel from the UPDF and the police force to attend manual demining training courses.[11]

According to DDG, 103,655m2 remained to be manually cleared as of August 2012. There are unconfirmed reports of an additional 350,000–400,000m2 of suspected mined area adjacent to the minefields being cleared. Surveys orchestrated by the UMAC office in Gulu were underway in August to verify the status of the remaining area.[12]

Cluster munition remnants

All known cluster munition remnants are reported to have been cleared in Uganda.[13] A residual risk may exist, however.

Other explosive remnants of war

In February 2011, five people died and seven others were injured in an unexploded ordnance (UXO) accident in Obongi, Moyo District, which is outside the area of operations for the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams.[14]

In July 2011, media reported that the Ikobero Church of Uganda primary school in Kasese region had been using an item of UXO as a school bell. According to Wilson Bwambale, coordinator of the Anti-Mine Network Rwenzori (AMNET-R), the bomb was discovered during a mine/ERW risk education (RE) session at the school. This was the second bomb found in a school since the beginning of the year. Previously teachers at Muhindi primary school had found students playing with an unexploded bomb. AMNET-R claimed that Bugoye, Ihandiro, Kisinga, Kyalhumba, Kyondo, Munkunyu, Nyakiyumbu, and Rukoki sub-counties all required surveys to identify other ERW.[15]

In January 2012, two men were injured by a grenade while digging a pit latrine at a Family Health Clinic next to the Uganda Red Cross office in Bundibugyo district in Kasese. The grenade was found three feet underground. According to the district police commander, the accident occurred in the same area where the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group, had constructed a base camp in the late 1990s.[16]

Since 2008, 55,828 items of UXO have been destroyed in 2,237 villages.[17] The remaining ERW problem in Uganda is said to exist in areas where internal conflicts were fought over the past 20 years, including the West Nile region in the north of the country and the Rwenzori sub-region (Kasese and Bundibugyo districts) in western Uganda near the border with the DR Congo.[18] During NTS in 2011, EOD teams from UMAC destroyed 27 ERW in 15 locations. The survey confirmed that prior records of ERW locations in Kasese were highly inaccurate, and days were wasted looking for explosive items that did not exist.[19]

In 2012, the four EOD teams were assigned to mine clearance operations until all mined areas were cleared. Uganda anticipates that EOD capacity is needed for at least three more years and planned to seek international funding to support the EOD teams.[20]

Mine Action Program

 Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2012

National Mine Action Authority

NMASC (Office of the Prime Minister)

Mine action Centre

UMAC (Office of the Prime Minister)

International demining operators

Danish Demining Group (DDG), serving as technical advisor to UMAC; Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) sub-contracted to mechanical mine-clearance project by DDG until 7 Aug 2012

National demining operators

Ugandan army and police seconded to UMAC

International RE operators

DDG until June 2010, Handicap International (HI) until July 2012

National RE operators


Uganda’s national mine action authority is its National Mine Action Steering Committee (NMASC), which is located at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala.[21] Mine action is integrated in the government of Uganda’s Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan, one of the aims of which is to facilitate the return and resettlement of internally displaced persons.[22]

The Office of the Prime Minister, through UMAC, is responsible for the management and coordination of mine action in the country, with the exception of victim assistance, which falls under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Ministry of Health. UMAC, which was established in Kampala in 2006, is responsible for quality management of demining operations, risk education, and accreditation of mine action operators. A regional mine action office was established in Gulu in 2008.[23] The UPDF and the UPF provide all demining personnel to UMAC.

UNDP ended its support of mine action on 1 July 2011, because Australia, Denmark, and Norway preferred direct funding modality to DDG for technical and logistical support of national demining operations.[24] DDG has provided technical assistance to UMAC since 2008 with an exit strategy to phase out its activities in accordance with Uganda’s extended deadline under Article 5. As the deadline passed in August 2012, DDG extended its support role to October 2012; this was done with funding from Australia channeled through a UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) completion initiative.[25]

Land Release

Since 2010, of the 46 confirmed mined areas countrywide, 29 have been cleared and handed over to the communities. Another nine have been cleared but had not been handed over as of 31 July 2012 and two were discredited after technical surveys, leaving six mined areas to be cleared.[26]

In 2011, UMAC released 144,258m2 through clearance and canceled 21,200m2 (two Suspected Hazardous Areas, SHAs) through NTS.[27]

Survey in 2011

In May–September 2011, DDG conducted NTS in northern and western areas of the country with UMAC and in coordination with the Office of the Prime Minister. Previous surveys in 2006–2007, which focused on ERW rather than mines, proved to be inadequate in addressing any mine contamination. DDG with financial support from Norway surveyed the areas where there had been armed conflicts during the past two decades.[28]

The purpose of the survey was to confirm mined areas, confirm or discredit SHAs and conduct UXO spot clearance tasks where necessary. Using International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) as a guide, survey teams interviewed over 3,000 people comprising local officials, hunters, UPDF, local NGOs, and others while collecting information. Hunters and local defense units seemed the best informed.[29]

Survey Findings[30]

The survey identified 34 mined areas covering 836,185m2. Eight of the mined areas had been previously known. Three had been cleared, two discredited, and three were being cleared at the time of the survey.



Mined areas identified

North (border with South Sudan)

Lamwo, Kitgum, Amuru


West (border with DRC)

Kasese, Bundibugyo


Northwest (West Nile)

Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Koboko, Maracha, Arua, Nebbi


Mine clearance in 2011–2012

In August 2012, DDG reported that 40 of the 46 mined areas, including the 34 that DDG identified in the NTS, had been either discredited or cleared, covering a total of 1,666,160m2, leaving 103,955m2 to clear. During clearance operations, a total of 3,678 antipersonnel mines were found.[31]

Approximately 70% of all clearance has been by mechanical clearance with two MineWolf machines used by two teams from Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) South Sudan. The teams were contracted to the demining operation by DDG from 16 January to 7 August, when mechanical clearance was completed. Mechanical breakdowns delayed completion, even though the average daily output of the MineWolf machines exceeded the planned output by 1,000m2 per day.[32] According to DDG, NPA mechanical teams achieved the objective of clearing all the mined areas that were possible to be mechanically processed in the country. The team conducted the clearance to international mine action standards while quality assurance (QA) was conducted together with a demining team from UMAC. The mechanically cleared areas are now awaiting land release.[33]

Mine clearance in 2010 through 15 August 2012[34]

Name of SHA and sub-county

Area cleared (m2)

Antipersonnel mines destroyed







Kabango & Kakuka/ Nduguto



Ovuju/ Olluje



Ngomoromo/ Lokung, Lelapwot, Palabek Kal



Agoro/Agoro & Lokung






Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, and in accordance with the three-year extension to its deadline granted by the Second Review Conference in 2009,[35] Uganda was required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 August 2012.

In July 2009, Uganda declared that it had underestimated the complexity of clearing its operations and the time required to clear them, and so it would not meet its 1 August 2009 Article 5 deadline. In the middle of August, it applied for a three-year extension, which was approved at the Second Review Conference, four months after its Article 5 deadline had already expired. An essential element in Uganda’s three-year plan was the planned use of a MineWolf vegetation-cutting machine belonging to NPA Sudan, which began in January 2012.

In May 2012, at the Intersessional Standing Committee Meeting on Mine Clearance, Uganda said it “remained committed” to meeting its 1 August 2012 deadline.[36] However, it ultimately failed to meet the deadline and stated it planned to complete all remaining clearance by the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties in December.[37] Even if this commitment is actually achieved, Uganda is the only State Party to have been in non-compliance with Article 5 on two separate occasions.

Explosive ordnance disposal in 2011–2012

In 2011, there were four UMAC EOD teams trained, equipped, and technically supported by DDG with funding from Norway and Denmark. Two teams were used to assist NTS, while two other teams conducted mobile EOD operations countrywide under UMAC coordination and supervision.

Explosive ordnance disposal in 2009–2011[38]


No. of teams

No. of villages covered

AP mines

AT mines


Air-dropped bombs






























no records





Under the pressure of a fast-approaching Mine Ban Treaty deadline and in order to increase mine clearance productivity, two EOD teams were incorporated into the manual mine-clearance teams. Then when funding from Norway to support EOD teams expired on 30 April 2012, the remaining two EOD teams were integrated to the manual mine clearance teams. Although these four EOD teams are now clearing mines, they are fully trained and equipped to resume EOD after mine clearance is complete. Both DDG and the government of Norway through its embassy in Kampala have stressed to the Office of Prime Minister that the government of Uganda should provide the resources for EOD teams. In June 2012, a small team detached from the demining capacity conducted emergency EOD in Bundibugyo and found 25 ERW items.[39]

Quality management

National Mine Action Standards were passed and approved in December 2008.[40] A five-person QA team within UMAC conducts internal quality control (QC) as well as QA.[41] DDG conducts external QA/QC.[42]

Safety of demining personnel

In November 2011, one UPDF deminer was injured in a previously cleared area in a minefield in the Agoro Mountains bordering South Sudan. The accident resulted in several developments. First, the deminer’s left leg was amputated below the knee; this required both physical and mental rehabilitation. In May 2012, he returned to the mine-clearance unit as a storekeeper. As a result of the accident, all UMAC demining personnel were re-trained in detection, clearance, and marking drills.

A DDG inspection of 107 Minelab F3 detectors found they were fully functional and two minefields were subsequently re-cleared. During the re-clearance, an additional 23 antipersonnel landmines were recovered from the previously cleared area. A DDG investigation, coupled with the finding of mines in the cleared area, led to disciplinary actions within UMAC and the dismissal of the leadership of the clearance teams at the time of the accident. DDG confirmed the clearance was conducted satisfactorily and to quality standards, a process that included the management and supervision of the demining teams.[43]

Risk Education

In 2008–2010, DDG provided risk education (RE) and disseminated awareness materials in mine-affected areas of northern Uganda, educating 111,531 inhabitants in 603 schools and 442 villages. Approximately 80% of the population reached were children aged six through 13. The DDG RE project ended in June 2010.[44]

In February 2010, Handicap International (HI) commenced RE through a local NGO, Anti-Mines Network-Rwenzori (AMNET-R), in the mine-affected regions of western Uganda, and was initially based in Kasese. In July 2010, HI took the lead in RE in the country, and from January 2011 RE teams operated in schools and villages in northern Uganda.

In 2011, 5,454 people were trained in RE, out of which approximately 85% were children. UMAC EOD teams also delivered RE in 2011 through community liaison.[45] In January–July 2012, HI/AMNET-R provided RE to 9,297 people out of which 40% were children.[46]

The RE methodology for both DDG and HI comprised direct awareness sessions, training of trainer workshops, training of community focal points, civil liaison with UMAC, UPDF and police on ERW findings, production of RE handbooks, broadcast of weekly radio programs in the north and west, theatre and drama, and dissemination of IEC materials (including some 18,000 T-shirts, 10,000 posters and thousands of comics books). HI also designed a 15-minute RE film.[47] The HI RE project in the Kasese region ended in July 2012 and in the northern areas it ended in August 2012.[48]


[1] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 August 2009, p. 3.

[2] Uganda Mine Action Centre (UMAC), IMSMA July Monthly Report, 2 August 2012.

[3] Statements of Uganda, Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Phnom Penh, 22 December 2011; and Standing Committee Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 May 2012.

[4] Statement of Uganda, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 May 2012.

[5] DDG, “Monthly Operations Report July 2012.”

[6] UMAC, IMSMA July Monthly Report, 2 August 2012; and email from Samuel Paunila, Country Director, DDG, Uganda, 16 August 2012.

[7] UMAC, IMSMA July Monthly Report, 2 August 2012.

[8] James Eriku, “UPDF ends first demining phase,” Daily Monitor, 9 August 2012.

[10] Email from Vicent Woboya, Director, UMAC, 11 August 2012.

[11] DDG, “Monthly Operations Report July 2012.”

[12] Email from Samuel Paunila, DDG, Uganda, 16 August 2012.

[13] Email from Vicent Woboya, UMAC, 8 April 2010.

[14] DDG, “Monthly Operations Report February 2011.”

[15] Thembo Kahungu Misairi, “Kasese school uses bomb as a bell,” 3 July 2011, www.monitor.co.ug.

[16] Machrine Birungi, “Grenade blast injures two in Bundibugyo,” Uganda Radio Network, 17 January 2012 and Catherine Ntabadde,Grenade injures two in Bundibugyo, Red Cross provides evacuation services,” 17 January 2012.

[17] UMAC, IMSMA Database, updated 15 August 2012.

[18] Email from Samuel Paunila, DDG, Uganda, 9 June 2011; and Response to Monitor questionnaire by Vicent Woboya, UMAC, 10 June 2011.

[19] DDG, “Non-Technical Survey Report for Uganda,” September 2011, p. 10.

[20] Statement of Uganda, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 May 2012.

[21] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 17 August 2009, pp. 12–13.

[22] Government of Uganda, “Report Presented by the Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda to the Second Review Conference of the AP Mine Ban Convention,” May 2009, p. 1.

[23] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Vicent Woboya, UMAC, 29 March 2009.

[24] Email from Samuel Paunila, DDG, Uganda, 16 August 2012.

[25] DDG, “Monthly Operations Report July 2012.”

[26] Ibid.

[27] UMAC, IMSMA July Monthly Report, 2 August 2012.

[28] DDG, “Non-Technical Survey Report for Uganda,” September 2011, pp. 1–4.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid., pp. 8–10.

[31] Source: IMSMA Database, update 15 August 2012. Since December 2011, Uganda has provided updates in various formats that cannot be reconciled: at the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, the National Directors and UN Advisors Meeting in March 2012, its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report of 30 April 2012; and Statement of Uganda, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 May 2012.

[32] DDG, “Monthly Operations Report July 2012.”

[33] Ibid.

[34] IMSMA July Monthly Report, 2 August 2012; and email from Samuel Paunila, DDG, Uganda, 16 August 2012.

[35] Email from Vicent Woboya, UMAC, 9 July 2009; and letter to Jurg Streuli, President of the Ninth Meeting of States Parties, from Pius Bigirimana, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, 2 July 2009.

[36] Statement of Uganda, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 May 2012.

[37] Email from Vicent Woboya, UMAC, 11 August 2012.

[38] UMAC, “Operations Statistics 2006–2012.”

[39] DDG, “Monthly Operations Report July 2012.”

[40] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Elina Dibirova, Risk Education/Victim Assistance Specialist, DDG, 27 February 2009.

[41] Email from Vicent Woboya, UMAC, 8 April 2010.

[42] Memorandum of Understanding for 2010–2012 between DDG and Office of the Prime Minister.

[43] DDG, “Monthly Operations Report December 2011,” and DDG, “Monthly Operations Report July 2012.”

[44] Operations Statistics Uganda, 2008–2012.

[45] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Vicent Woboya, UMAC, 10 June 2011.

[46] “UMAC IMSMA Report May 2011,” provided to the Monitor.

[47] Michael Moore, “Profile of Uganda’s Anti-Mines Network – Rwenzori,” Landmines in Africa (a blog covering a variety of issues in mine action), 8 September 2011.

[48] Email from Samuel Paunila, DDG, Uganda, 16 August 2012.