Afghan Projects Mines to Vines™ Battlefield, Mine and UXO Clearance, 2002-2006

Mines to Vines™ Battlefield, Landmine and UXO Clearance, 2002-2006, Private Donations, implemented by The HALO Trust, U.S. $388,000

As a result of decades of conflict, Afghanistan remains one of the most severely landmine-affected countries in the world. The Shomali Valley extends from the north of Kabul City as far as the foothills of the Hindu Kush. Renowned for its fertility and intense cultivation yielding a harvest that, in better times, made Afghanistan one of the world’s largest exporters of dried fruit. But in times of war, the Shomali formed the northern gateway to Kabul which was fought over and mined by a multitude of factions over the last 30 years. Lines and booby traps were laid in the villages and vineyards – anywhere where a soldier might take cover – and in the irrigation canals, wrecking any prospects of farming. Some villagers managed a mere subsistence existence but the vineyards remained dry and many plants died. With refugees now returning to this vital growing region, the Shomali remains one of the most difficult and yet highest priority landmine clearance needed anywhere in the world.

We have been working in partnership with The HALO Trust and United Nations Mine Action Center in Afghanistan since Spring 2003. Our joint efforts have successfully cleared over 11 million square meters of land and removed over 100,000 landmines and other remnants of war. Our clearance efforts targeted over 40 vineyards, several villages, water wells, and a tributary of the main Parwan irrigation canal which supports grape growing in the region. As soon as a room or patch of land was cleared of the remnants of war, farmers and their families eagerly moved in greatly relieved to finally leave the refugee camps behind to reclaim and restore their homes and livelihoods. By restoring land’s economic viability, we have strengthened community values and restored a sense of peace and economic freedom through the aged-old cycle planting, cultivating and harvesting.