As a result of a civil war that lasted over 40 years, a vast amount of landmines and UXOs (unexploded ordnances) still remain in Uganda, a small country located in East Africa. With a support from AEON Group, AAR Japan has launched projects to support survivors of landmines and UXOs in cooperation with Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA). ULSA is represented by Margaret Arach Orech, who participated in “Children's Summit to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs” co-sponsored by AEON 1% Club and AAR Japan in March, 2009. Together we are pursuing the twin goals of establishing a network of landmine survivors in Uganda and empowering them economically.
Activities in Uganda
Building a Survivors' Network
AAR Japan and Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA) received representatives of the landmine survivors' groups from across the country for their first national meeting held in the capital Kampala in July, 2009. The meeting fulfilled its primary purpose of strengthening the connections among the survivor groups, and also functioned as an opportunity to express a strong appeal to the government representatives to recognize the necessity of improving support for landmine survivors. The new ties will be useful in sharing relevant information as well as developing future activities to help them achieve economic independence.
Supporting the Livelihood of Landmine/UXO Survivors
It is estimated that there are at least 180 landmine/UXO survivors in the District of Kasese, in western Uganda, to whom very little support has been provided so far. Although the farming on mountain slopes is a major income source in Kasese, it is difficult for the people injured by landmines and UXOs to continue this style of work. As a result, many survivors had to move to lowland urban areas, where they have difficulty making a living, and many of them face severe economic hardship. In 2010, AAR Japan supported them through the provision of vocational training so that they can improve their could living.
AAR Japan is now assisting 30 survivors in Lira, the northern region of Uganda in attaining financial stability and their physical conditions. The specific activities are: 1) providing start-up kits to 30 beneficiaries to start small-scale, self-owned business such as retail shops, salons, second-hand clothing shops. 2) providing medical treatment including rehabilitation and prosthetic limbs to 15 beneficiaries.