Editor’s Note: This video is part of the third article in a three-part series addressing landmines and other unexploded ordnance in Cambodia, a remnant of past conflicts continuing to impact the safety and livelihoods of people living near former war zones.
The legacy of three decades of conflict in the past century has left Cambodia riddled with remnants of war.
With huge swaths of the country still heavily contaminated by landmines and other unexploded ordnance, a programme unique to the Kingdom is working to recycle and repurpose these munitions. The explosive harvesting process converts the explosive materials from remnants of war into small charges, which are then used to destroy unexploded ordnance unsafe to move.
The Golden West Humanitarian Foundation has run the programme since 2005 and has since harvested nearly 33,000 ordnance items and by March had recycled these remnants of war into more than 584,000 explosive charges.
To record the process in this video, Southeast Asia Globe spent a day with Joe Valdez and Khean Thong, explosive ordnance disposal experts managing the program, in Golden West’s facility in Kampong Chhnang province, two hours northwest of Phnom Penh.
Explosive harvesting is one of several distinct techniques in Cambodia’s arsenal to remove landmines and other unexploded ordnance, also known as ‘mine action.’
With the 30th anniversary of official mine action in the Kingdom taking place in June, the Cambodian Mine Action & Victim Assistance Authority is doubling down on its goal to declare the country “landmine free” by 2025. This three-part series on remnants of war, published by Globe, contextualises the current state of mine action in Cambodia.
The first story explored how farmers trying to cultivate recently cleared land are facing a host of new challenges. Read about how “Landmines shake the lives of farmers long after conflicts end.”
The second story documented two different demining crews working to clear Cambodia’s most mine-affected region. Take a look at “A Day as a Deminer.”
The third story digs deeper into how explosive harvesting may help demining groups cut costs and develop environmentally-responsible techniques for mine action. Read about “Recycling the remnants of war.”
As the deadline for Cambodia’s “landmine free” declaration nears, alongside a global push for environmentally friendly mine action, this Globe video on Golden West’s Explosive Harvesting Program highlights the nuances of this innovative technique.
The first, second and third parts of the Globe series on landmines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia can be found here.