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Last Updated: 25 August 2014

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Overall Mine Action Performance: AVERAGE BUT IMPROVING[1]

Performance Indicator


Problem understood


Target date for completion of clearance


Targeted clearance


Efficient clearance


National funding of program


Timely clearance


Land release system


National mine action standards


Reporting on progress


Improving performance




The Republic of Zimbabwe is contaminated with mines, the overwhelming majority antipersonnel, from minefields laid in the late 1970s during a conflict of decolonization. Initially antipersonnel mines were laid in very dense belts (reportedly 5,500 mines per kilometer of frontage) to form a “cordon sanitaire.” Over time the cordon sanitaire was breached or subject to erosion and so, in many sections, a second belt of “ploughshare” directional fragmentation mines guarded by antipersonnel mines were laid “inland” of the cordon sanitaire.[2] Antivehicle mines were used extensively by insurgents but most were detonated by vehicles or have been cleared.[3]

Contamination was assessed at some 310km2, which was “erroneously” reported by Zimbabwe as 511km2.[4] In its fourth Article 5 deadline extension request, submitted in December 2013, Zimbabwe reported remaining contamination of almost 209km2.[5] This contamination comprises five minefields, referred to as: Musengezi to Rwenya, Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner, Rusitu to Muzite Mission, Sheba Forest to Beacon Hill, and Burma Valley. There are also three suspected hazardous areas (SHAs): at Lusulu, Mukumbura, and Rushinga. A fourth SHA, at Kariba, was cleared of improvised explosive devices in June 2013.[6] Of the total affected area, 174km2 is said to be fertile land largely owned by the poor rural communities farming in the border regions.[7]

HALO Trust has found that in the areas where it is operating, in the northeast of the country bordering Tête province in Mozambique, the humanitarian and developmental impact of the border minefields is significant, with the very close proximity of schools, homes, and agriculture to mine belts. While human casualties occur infrequently, livestock is being killed on a weekly basis.[8]

Mine Action Program

The National Mine Action Authority of Zimbabwe (NAMAAZ) is a policy and regulatory body on all issues relating to mine action in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (ZIMAC) was established in 2000 within the Ministry of Defence as the focal point and the coordination center of all mine action activities in the country. ZIMAC is mandated to report to NAMAAZ. National mine action standards took effect in July 2013.[9]

ZIMAC, and, since 2013, HALO and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), conduct land release activities. HALO has been given initial responsibility for survey and clearance of the border minefields running from Musengezi in Mashonaland Central to Rwenya in Northern Manicaland, originally estimated to cover some 139km2 in total.[10] NPA has been working in the Burma Valley minefield where people have built houses and have been cultivating land within the minefield, resulting in mine incidents. NPA began clearance operations in May 2013.[11]

In 2012, the ICRC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Zimbabwe to train ZIMAC personnel and to provide metal detectors, protective equipment, and trauma kits. In 2012 and 2013 through November, 69 deminers were trained on international mine action standards, and the ICRC donated 50 sets of mine detection equipment and deminer personal protective equipment.[12]

Land Release

In 2013–2014, NPA conducted non-technical survey (NTS) of 17.15km2 covering the three mined areas in Zimbabwe that ZIMAC had allocated to it. Surprisingly, no land was released as a result.[13] HALO conducted NTS of 7.8km2 of land on the Musengezi to Rwenya minefields. The survey as of early 2014 indicated that the ploughshare belt might be considerably narrower than the 400 meters assumed by Zimbabwe in its extension request, but the sample size was too small for definitive conclusions to be drawn.[14]

Zimbabwe’s reported clearance was almost 0.8km2 in 2013.[15]

Mine clearance in 2013[16]


Mined areas released

Total area cleared (m2)

Antipersonnel mines destroyed

Antivehicle mines destroyed





















N/R = not reported; * ZIMAC also reported clearance of 210 IEDs; ** This figure includes 67 antipersonnel mines that were dealt with as call-outs from local communities.

HALO reported one very slight injury to a deminer during its demining operations in 2013.[17]

Article 5 Compliance

Zimbabwe’s latest Article 5 deadline is due to expire on 1 January 2015. Since its initial Article 5 deadline expired on 1 March 2009 it has submitted a total of four extension requests, its latest request of 31 December 2013 seeking three additional years until 1 January 2018. This extension will enable further survey and clearance, but Zimbabwe is not committing itself to complete its clearance obligations within the requested period.

Based on 2013 clearance rates and capacity, NPA expects clearance in its allotted areas to take between 11 and 17 years. It was, however, planning to increase capacity from 20 to 30 deminers in 2014 and to further increase operational capacity once additional funding has been identified. The possibility of using dogs or machines to speed up demining productivity was still under consideration as of early 2014.[18]

HALO has been working to increase the number of deminers employed in its clearance operations from 34 in 2013 to as many as 80 in 2014. As of February 2014, it was negotiating the import of a demining machine.[19]

Support for Mine Action

In 2013, Japan, Norway, the United States (US), and Ireland contributed a total of US$2.26 million toward clearance activities in Zimbabwe.[20] In 2012, Zimbabwe received international assistance for mine action for the first time since 1999.

International assistance in 2013[21]




(national currency)

Amount ($)





















In 2013, the Government of Zimbabwe reported contributing $800,000 to its mine action program.[22] A breakdown of this contribution has not been provided.


·         Ensure all demining operators are using appropriate land release methodologies and standards.

·         Ensure functional quality management system for all operators.


[1] See “Mine Action Program Performance” for more information on performance indicators.

[2] HALO Trust, “Zimbabwe, History of Minelaying,” undated but accessed 10 February 2014; and Mine Ban Treaty Fourth Article 5 deadline Extension Request, Executive Summary, 31 December 2013.

[3] HALO, “Zimbabwe, History of Minelaying,” undated but accessed 10 February 2014.

[4] In addition, the quality of earlier clearance by the Zimbabwean army is open to question as accidents have been reported on cleared land.

[6] Ibid, p. 6.

[7] HALO, “Zimbabwe, The Problem,” undated but accessed 10 February 2014.

[8] Interview with Tom Dibbs, Programme Manager, HALO, Harare, 9 June 2014.

[10] HALO, “Zimbabwe, The Solution,” undated but accessed 10 February 2014.

[11] NPA, “Mine action in Zimbabwe,” undated but accessed 10 February 2014.

[13] Email from Christian Andersen, Desk Officer, Africa, NPA, 13 February 2014.

[14] Email from Tom Dibbs, HALO, 20 February 2014.

[15] Mine Ban Treaty Fourth Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 December 2013; and statement of Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 11 April 2014.

[16] Emails from Christian Andersen, NPA, 13 February 2014, and Tom Dibbs, HALO, 19 February 2014; and statement of Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 11 April 2014. Different figures were provided in Zimbabwe’s Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reportv for 2013.

[17] Email from Tom Dibbs, HALO, 20 February 2014.

[18] Email from Christian Andersen, NPA, 13 February 2014.

[19] Email from Tom Dibbs, HALO, 19 February 2014.

[20] Emails from Mary Ryan, Emergency and Recovery Section, Irish Aid, 15 April 2014; Ingunn Vatne, Senior Advisor, Section for Humanitarian Affairs, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 April 2014; and Lisa D. Miller, Public engagement and partnerships, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State, 9 April 2014; and Japan Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2014.

[21] Average exchange rate for 2013: €1=US$1.3281; ¥97.60=US$1; NOK5.8772=US$1. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 2 January 2014.