In-depth: The landmine hangover
AID POLICY: Money for mine action is hard to come by
Cheap to produce, unbearable cost
Cartagena, 4 December 2009 (IRIN) - The annual UN Portfolio
of Mine Action Projects is more than a brochure of funding needs; it is a near comprehensive directory for donors wishing to fund mine initiatives, and an unofficial barometer of health in the funding community - and 2010 is looking decidedly bearish.
The portfolio, published by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme, and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, among others, is essentially a Consolidated Appeals Process for funding mine action, but also a useful tool for gauging the funding climate and donor trends.
The outlook for 2010 is bleak. Mine action funding reached a peak in 2008, coinciding with the onset of the global recession. To cover projects in 2010, 27 countries and 95 agencies submitted proposals for 227 projects with a total budget of US$589 million. With 2010 only a few weeks away, just $24 million has been secured - a shortfall of $565 million.
UNMAS director Maxwell Kerley told IRIN: "it is unlikely, with our best efforts" that funding would be attained, but "it does not mean that the job won't get done - it will just take longer and more people will die", as the drop-off in finances slows mine action.
Afghanistan, which staked the biggest claim to donor money, has earmarked more than U$200 million for demining and the destruction of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in 2010, but is unlikely to come anywhere near reaching its requirements.
Money for demining operations has been on an upward trajectory. "Affected states contributed $108.7 million to mine action in 2008, up from $50 million in 2005; non-affected states ... contributed increasing assistance year after year - $219 million in 1999, $392 million in 2004, and $518 million in 2008," according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
|Each year some mine action programmes struggle to obtain the necessary resources to carry out their activities, and some sectors, such as victim assistance, receive only a very small percentage of assistance
"And yet these steady increases have not been enough. Each year some mine action programmes struggle to obtain the necessary resources to carry out their activities, and some sectors, such as victim assistance, receive only a very small percentage of assistance," the ICBL said in a statement to the second review conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, being held in the port city of Cartagena, northern Colombia.
The Australian government's announcement of $100 million for mine action over the next five years, from 2010 to 2014, has brightened an otherwise bleak scenario of rising costs and diminishing money.
The ICBL estimated that between 2009 and 2019, mine clearance and the destruction of ERW would require $2.78 billion, but even in the good year of 2008, funding and needs had begun heading in opposite directions: only 58 percent of the money needed in 2008 was secured.
With the global financial situation unlikely to improve in the next few years, Zambia suggested the formation of a Standing Committee on Resources, which would squeeze more from less, at a Cartagena preparatory meeting in Geneva in September 2009.
Sheila Mweemba, director of the Zambia Anti-personnel Mine Action Centre in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told IRIN the proposal initially got a lukewarm response, but found favour with the International Committee of the Red Cross and Senegal. However, on her arrival in Cartagena she "was quite amazed" at the turnaround in attitudes.
The MBT has standing committees on victim assistance, mine clearance and stockpile destruction, among others. The proposed committee would be a "clearing house" for matching projects with donors, and a technical and information exchange; provide skills transfers and assistance in activities like preparing proposals for donor assistance, and help mine-affected states develop clear plans to rid themselves of landmines.
The ICBL said the "traditionally short-term approach" to funding often meant that "from year to year", mine action groups did not know whether they would be able to continue their activities, and wanted donors to adopt more long-term finding.
However, the organisation voiced particular concern over "mainstreaming" - the practice of folding dedicated mine action budgets into development budgets. "The impact of integrating mine action into development budgets is unknown," the ICBL said at a session dedicated to cooperation and assistance at the Cartagena summit.
"We do not know, for example, how much development funding has been spent on victim assistance; we do not know if mine action is losing out when managed by those unfamiliar with the treaty's legal obligations. The integration of mine action into development budgets makes it increasingly difficult to track funding specifically for mine action."
The European Union (EU) - which is not a signatory to the MBT and has observer status - had dedicated funding for mine action until 2007, but repealed this approach in an overhaul of its assistance programmes. "Mine action programmes are now streamlined into existing financial instruments," the European Commission said in a statement.
Maria Cruz, a member of the EU delegation, told IRIN the EU would address any concerns the ICBL had about tracking money for mine action assistance folded into development aid.