Landmines kill 15-20,000 people every year while countless more are maimed. Approximately 80% of land mine casualties are civilian, with children as the most affected age group. Most killings occur during a time of peace, after a time of war and conflict.
With more than 11,000 injuries in the past decade and 2,000 deaths, Colombia is the second-most-affected country in the world by landmines. Landmines create a constant state of fear in afflicted communities and block the development of roads, agriculture, and other key infrastructure. Landmines currently affect 30 of the 32 national departments in Colombia. A Landmine-free Colombia seeks to help the country’s transition to peace and future economic development.
As Colombia transitions to peace, ridding the country of deadly landmines is a nationwide priority. APOPO‘s animal detection support project with the Colombian Army is designed to clear Colombia of its mine problem in 6 years. When integrated into conventional methods the rapid mine detection rats and dogs trained by APOPO help catalytically speed up mine detection.
APOPO will initially provide the Colombian Army’s Humanitarian demining brigade, which constitutes 75% of the demining manpower in the whole country, with world class Mine Detection Dogs (MDD). Through simultaneous development of a mine detection dog breeding center, master Colombian Army dog trainers and breeders, and the potential later integration of Mine Detection Rats (MDR), at least 120 mine detection animals will be integrated into the Colombian Army demining units. Mine detection animals, which can detect landmines 50 – 100 times faster than manual deminers who use excavation or metal detectors will conduct the majority of the searching, allowing much slower manual demining methods to be used only to create initial safe access lanes for animals and when there is certainty of mines. The resulting efficiency gains will allow Colombia to declare itself mine free at least a decade ahead of the current pace.
A Landmine-Free Colombia will be possible because of partnerships between government, the military, civil society leaders, peace builders, philanthropists, institutional investors and business leaders. ICV will oversee the project and provide full transparency.
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“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society.”
– Princess Diana
The current nationwide demining capacity in Colombia is dominated by the Humanitarian Demining Unit of the Colombia Army, which has 75% of the total country’s capacity, including over 2,000 dedicated mine detection soldiers on the ground. The Colombian army by itself is adequately manned to quickly and safely demine the country in less than a decade if equipped with the proper tools and methods, particularly rapid mine detection animals.
Unfortunately, mine detection animal capacity is currently limited inside the Army, and at current productivity levels, Colombia will not declare itself mine free for at least 15 years. The Colombian Army currently has 7 Mine Detection dogs in country, even though leading mine detection experts recommend they have over 100 animals to maximize the pace of the land mine clearance efforts.
Metal detectors clear 8 square meters per day. Full excavation clears 4 square meters per day. Unfortunately, in Colombia plastic mines are more predominant than metal mines. This means that most demining is currently done by the even slower excavation method.
Without animals, demining in Colombia is almost exclusively done by much slower manual demining methods. Globally, manual demining typically entails a human searching with a metal detector, a slow process that is prone to constant false alarms due to metallic soil and scrap metal. In Colombia, the process is even slower as the predominance of plastic mines means deminers have to ditch metal detectors and use the excavation methodology. During this process, deminers are on their knees carefully digging their way through the minefield, using a small garden type trowel, an exceedingly slow and cumbersome process.
All major stakeholders in Colombia, including the Army, have thus recognized the need to establish animal detection capacity to speed up the current pace. An equally expensive but well-balanced capacity of manual deminers and animals should clear 500% more land than manual deminers alone. For this reason, integrating high performing animals in the Colombian Army’s operations is imperative for achieving a landmine-free Colombia by 2025.
As the only mine detection organization in Colombia focused primarily on deploying mine detection animals, APOPO is uniquely positioned to improve the current landmine detection situation in Colombia. APOPO has formed a partnership with the Colombian Army to support their existing capacities with high-quality mine detection animals. If APOPO can secure adequate funding to build the animal detection needs of the Army, Colombia can rid itself of the threat of landmines at least a decade ahead of the current pace, saving numerous lives, and opening up land for infrastructure and agricultural development in struggling post-conflict communities. APOPO will initially provide mine detection dogs to the Army, and then potentially mine detection rats. APOPO trains dogs and rats at dedicated centers in Cambodia and Tanzania staffed by experienced experts.
APOPO at a Glance
How Mine Detection Animals Work
Mine Detection Animals are trained to sniff out the explosives that exist in landmines, and ignore everything else. This allows them to rapidly sniff out landmines without the constant false alarms that dominate the indications of manual demining with a metal detector. Mine detection dogs are taught to sit as soon as they smell TNT which keeps them from running over and detonating a mine. Mine Detection Rats are trained to scratch on the top of a landmine, as they are too light to set them off. No Mine Detection Rat or Dog has ever died as a result of mine detection activities.
The productivity of Mine Detection Dogs and Mine Detection Rats is maximized in different scenarios when used by well-trained mine action teams. Rats excel in flat, open areas with light vegetation where the presence of mines is more certain. Dogs are better suited to more graded terrain with lusher vegetation where the presence of mines is less certain. Ideally, both animals are able to focus on the areas where their productivity is maximized, increasing overall productivity. APOPO is currently in the process of obtaining import permits for Mine Detection Rats, which can be an uncertain process. Therefore, APOPO is prepared to work with exclusively dogs or dogs and rats. While the Colombian Army has an impressive existing explosive dog capacity, capacity is limited to produce the more complex dogs needed for landmine detection, a gap that APOPO is uniquely positioned to fill.
APOPO: The Ideal Mine Detection Animal Partner
While most organizations fiercely compete for limited resources, APOPO is dedicated to offering its partners animal detection resources that improve speed and cost effectiveness when integrated properly with manual demining and machine assets. Over the past 20 years, APOPO has focused on providing mine detection rats. In 2017, APOPO opened a mine detection dog training center in Cambodia, staffed by two of the worlds experts in the field.
This unique focus has created a collaborative, animal detection focused organization, uniquely suited to partner with the Colombian Army to establish an internationally recognized animal detection capacity that will significantly enhance overall demining efforts. Currently, APOPO provides MDRs to larger mine action organizations in Cambodia, and Angola, and dogs to a larger organization in Sudan.
APOPO’s Mine Detection Dog program is currently being led by Terje Groth Berntsen and Håvard Bach, two previous leaders of Norwegian Peoples Aid, one of the pioneering organization in the development of mine detection dogs. Terje and Havard currently head up the development of APOPO’s Mine Detection Center which has the capacity to train and deploy 30+ high quality MDD each year. Both Terje and Havard have great industry reputations. Several master dog trainers and breeders have expressed a strong desire to work under Terje and Havard leadership in Colombia. TeKimiti Gilbert joined the APOPO team in March 2012 where he initially lead all of the organization programs in South East Asia and gained expertise in the deployment of mine detection animals. In 2016 TeKimiti moved to Colombia to begin the development of APOPO’s program, including technical advising to local NGO’s and developing animal detection support projects for the Colombian military.
The video tells the story of a similar project, executed under the leadership of Havard and Terje, that helped equip the largest national mine action organization in Cambodia with MDD. The project had catalytic affects on the pace of demining in Cambodia, significantly speeding up the the rate land was given back to communities.
MDR can be cheaper and easier to deploy than MDD and have an impressive track record in Mozambique, Cambodia, and Angola. Considering the lack of an existing protocol to import African rodents into Colombia, the fact that much of the landmine detection landscape in Colombia is steep and thickly vegetated and therefore more easily searched by larger dogs, and the existing dog training capacity in country, APOPO believes it makes more sense to initially focus on MDD with initial seed funding. However, over time APOPO will do careful assessments with the Colombia Army and decide if after Year 1 or 2, MDR should be introduced to the project.
ICV is pleased to provide a turnkey solution that lets anyone with a smartphone clear landmines in any digital or fiat currency, with a single acre measured by blockchain technology. Secured smart contact technology allows the donor to track every penny of their donation in terms of when and where landmines have been cleared.
Landmine Removal: $25M over 6 years
Years 3 and 4:
Years 5 and 6:
Additional Project Benefits
While this project is designed to produce a mine free Colombia by combining animal detection capacity and expertise with the massive infrastructure of the Colombian Army demining teams, its successful execution will have greater effects beyond just a landmine free Colombia. They include:
On a shrinking planet, never before has the future of food been in such peril. Already gobbling up one-third of total land mass and over 75% of available freshwater – many see modern agriculture as a malthusian catastrophe set to systematically exhaust resources, and thus us. But, others see differently. By developing creative models focused on ingenuity and resilience, some innovators have taken the lead to disrupt the agriculture industry through redefining the narrative. ICV will team up with environmental, animal welfare, and public health organizations to develop a sustainable agriculture system that links to a sustainable health system. With global population set to grow by 40% in less than two generations, we need better solutions to maintain stability. Running the gamut of short and long horizon potential, diverse asset classes and risk profiles, we will engage agri-food system experts to explore and implement new technologies for the future of agriculture and food security, with Colombia as a model.
“The situation the Earth is in today has been created by unmindful production and unmindful consumption. We consume to forget our worries and our anxieties. Tranquilising ourselves with over-consumption is not the way.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh
A Landmine-Free Colombia will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through programming, coursework, partnerships and development, with measurable outcomes.
Peace talks between President Santos and the FARC began in Havana Cuba in the summer of 2012. It took 4 years to agree to a resolution. The resolution was put to a public referendum, which failed with 50.2% voting against it and 49.8% voting in favor.
Shortly after the referendum, President Santos went back to the table to meet with FARC leader Timochenko to continue working on the agreement. Despite half the voter population opposing the deal, the President would not back down, promising that he would “continue the search for peace until the last moment of my mandate because that’s the way to leave a better country to our children.”
“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek.”
– Matthew 5:39
With the peace deal, Colombia can start to decompress and rebuild what 5 decades of war and carnage have destroyed. Only by laying down arms and coming together as one country can Colombia have hope for a future.
The personal journey of the president and the history and future of uniting the denizens of the nation have inspired this project. With the amount of global conflict in the world today, “peace through forgiveness,” hope and perseverance to achieve sustainable development will be at the forefront.
We proudly recognize:
The Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates derives from a new and more broadly based collaboration between the International Gorbachev Foundation and the City of Rome for realizing the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates. The Permanent Secretariat, based in Rome, is a non-profit association without political aims.
As well as organizing the tasks of the Summit, the Secretariat monitors the activities of Nobel Peace Laureates, while promoting the adoption of the “Charter for a world without violence” and supporting the work of the Nobel, who participate in the annual Summits at Rome, as mediators in various conflicts around the world (Article 3 of the Statute).
The Summit is the most inspirational and largest annual event in the field of peacemaking. It aggregates panel discussions among Nobel Peace Laureates and representatives of the leading international organizations, media, business and government in open forums. It gives the opportunity for group and individual meetings with high-profile leaders from around the globe. It has dedicated Student’s workshops organized in collaboration with international organizations and Nobel Peace Laureates. We share our networking of international and national students groups and young social activists, international delegations, elected officials and businessmen from around the world, promoting a unique discussion environment.
“I invite you to leave decades of violence forever in the past, to unite for all of us, for Colombia, for this dear nation, and to work together for reconciliation around shared ideals of peace.”
– Nobel Peace Laureate President Juan Manuel Santos
Our experienced team has the character, courage and commitment to solving the world’s greatest challenges.
Telma Viale has decades of international public service dealing with mandates related to social justice and global development. She has served in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Central Asia. Until 2013 she was the Special Representative to the UN and Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office in New York, and was Vice-Chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to that, she led the human resources department at the ILO Headquarters, and World Meteorological Organization Headquarters, as well as the ILO Training Center in Turin. Ms. Viale held various posts at the World Health Organization, at the UN Secretariat and the UN Development Programme, undertaking field assignments in Mozambique and Afghanistan. She represented the ILO as a Peace Laureate Organization at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. A Master in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, she also holds a B.A. in Psychology and Romance Languages from CUNY.
Bart Weetjens is a Zen priest and social entrepreneur. He is the founder of APOPO, an international humanitarian organisation that trains rats to save human lives by detecting landmines and disease. His work was recognised by Ashoka, the Schwab Foundation to the World Economic Forum and he won a Skoll Award for social entrepreneurship. Based on a vision that wellbeing inspires well-doing, he joined The Wellbeing Project, to help shift the culture in the field of social change to a more caring and compassionate one, with more support for the inner wellbeing of social change leaders. After 12 years of working in Tanzania, Africa, Bart moved back to his birth place Antwerp, Belgium, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
Christophe Cox has led APOPO’s team for the past two decades and has many years of management experience in East Africa. Christophe holds an MSc in Product Development & Development Sciences and developed much of APOPO’s technical apparatus. He has guided APOPO from a wild idea into an award-winning NGO with operations in Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe.
Charlie Richter is responsible for building new partnerships and projects with US based organizations as well as developing APOPO’s independent US based 501(c)(3) organization. Prior to this, he worked in business development and project management for Gallup, a large research and consulting firm, and One Economy, an international technology NGO, both based in Washington, D.C. At APOPO, Charlie is responsible for building new partnerships and projects with U.S.-based organizations that can help APOPO build its Tuberculosis (TB) and Mine Detection programs. In addition to his role in the Landmine-Free Colombia project, Charlie is focused on finding partners and resources for APOPO’s mine detection project in Zimbabwe adjacent to Kruger Park, which has major elephant conservation and eco tourism implications; he is also developing a research project to develop building rubble IED search animals, which stands to be a game changing technology in paving the way for development in post conflict areas in the Middle East; and, he is responsible for exploring research partnerships that would allow APOPO to explore new applications of Detection Rats Technology, including customs applications and Cancer screening. Charlie earned an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, where he developed a passion for innovative social enterprise.
Without ideals and values, human conduct lacks a compass.
1. PEACE IS A RIGHT: Peace is the birthright of every individual and the supreme right of humanity.
2. WE ARE ONE: Humanity is one family, sharing the gift of life together on this fragile planet. What happens to one of us happens to all of us.
3. WE ARE DIVERSE: Our humanity is enriched by diversity. This is a treasure that we all must honor and protect.
4. WE HAVE TO FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE: The moral principle of treating others as one wants to be treated must be applied not only to personal conduct but also to the conduct of religions and nations.
5. WE MUST AVOID WAR: War shreds the fabric of human community and represents a failure of our humanity.
6. WE MUST BE LEGAL AND JUST: World peace and stability require adherence to and respect for International Law, including International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Lasting peace can only be achieved if it is based on social justice.
7. WE SHOULD TALK: Whenever it is possible, conflicts should be ended through dialogue. The international community has to validate effective measures to prevent and limit wars.
8. WE HAVE TO RESPECT EACH OTHER: Even in conflict, an enemy must be recognized as a human being entitled to respect, and their motivations must be understood. The pursuit of the total elimination or humiliation of the adversary is the seed of more violence in the future.
9. WE HAVE TO EDUCATE: We have to promote tolerance, solidarity, compassion, and respect for differences and minority rights in order to create a global culture of peace. Education based on these values must be implemented throughout the world.
10. WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND: All lives are as valuable as one’s own. If we understand this with our hearts and our minds, we will build and keep peace in the world for us, for our children and the generations to come.
At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, we will ask ourselves whether we could have done more for the health and well-being of the planet, of humanity and all living things. Leverage your charitable giving to create systemic change with ICV’s Catalytic Philanthropy.
As a tax-exempt public charity as defined by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 501(c)(3), ICV Group, Inc. is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions under IRC Section 170 and is qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106 or 2522 (EIN: 82-2698363).
“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
– Gabriel García Márquez