An appetite for adventure and a blind eye to danger make children one of the groups most at risk of getting injured by unexploded ammunition. To minimise the risk, DCA South Sudan, with support from World Without Mines, trains children to recognise and avoid explosives.
‘What you don’t know can’t hurt you’ may be true in some cases – but when it comes to mines and explosives the opposite is true. If you are in South Sudan, not knowing can kill or maim you.
Luckily, hundreds of children in South Sudan now know how to stay safe after receiving training on Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) by DCA through a project funded by World Without Mines.
The children displayed the knowledge they have gained and their talents in sharing that knowledge through songs, poems, and plays at a large talent show in the South Sudanese capital, Juba in late 2022.
The theme of the show was: “Live Safe, Play Safe, Stay Safe”
Peer Risk Educators
The children are from seven schools – 20 students from each school have been selected to become ‘Peer Risk Educators’. After successfully completing their training, they go and tell their peers – friends at school and at home – and their families about the risk of explosive remnants of war and how to avoid them.
And there’s a lot to avoid.
16 million m2 of land in South Sudan is classified as hazardous areas that are contaminated with mines and explosives. And that is a conservative estimate. The real number is likely to be much higher.
Children most at risk
Whereas explosive remnants of war (ERWs) in and on the ground pose a threat to everyone, children are at increased risk of getting injured or killed by them. Children are curious, they like to explore and play in grasslands, bushes, and forest areas off the beaten track, and are often drawn to unusual objects that look “interesting”. But can be deadly.
Children are therefore more likely to accidentally step on or pick up a mine, an unexploded bomb, or ammunition – also known as explosive remnants of war (ERWs).
In South Sudan DCA works to remove mines and other explosive ordnance (EO) to eliminate the risk of injuries and worse – but until all contaminated land has been cleared, it is important to also train people to recognize and avoid the danger that explosive ordnance poses. And as children are more at risk, it is particularly important to teach them how to play safe and stay safe.
Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) ensures that people are aware of the dangers and know how to avoid them.
More ways of spreading the message
DCA South Sudan also conducts radio talk shows, creates wall murals (graffiti) to raise awareness in public, and raises awareness in the communities through training so-called Community Focal Points – individuals who receive training in order for them to pass it on other members of the community.
The National Mine Action Authorities (NMAA) attended the talent show in support of the efforts to spread safety messages and keep the people of South Sudan safe.
EORE activities are controlled, and quality checked by the NMAA in the same way as other mine action activities. DCA’s approach in EORE education of children has resulted in committed participants, who become excellent ambassadors for the important safety messages.
Young nation – old troubles
Gaining independence only in 2011 South Sudan may be the youngest nation in the world, not even a teenager yet, but its scars, trauma, and troubles are that of someone much older.
Decades of civil war and unrest have impacted its people, its infrastructure, and its economic development. The war prior to independence between what was Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan has left South Sudan of today with areas contaminated with mines and unexploded bombs and ammunition (Explosive Remnants of War/ERWs).
Combined efforts from the UN, commercial clearing companies, and humanitarian organisations, like DCA, have resulted in clearance of 1,301,403,957m2 and the demolition of 7,383,984 hazardous devices.
It is, however, estimated that over 16 million m2 are still contaminated – and that’s the conservative estimate. Because there’s generally agreement that far from all hazardous areas are known in South Sudan, and therefore the number is most likely higher.
Donor: World without Mines (Welt ohne Minen)
Amount: 75,000 USD
SDGs: 15 & 16
Number of people reached: 7,565