Luanda — SIX people have over the past year been killed after explosions by landmines planted during the Angolan civil war from 1975-92.
The deaths have been reported in the western Benguela Province where the explosives indiscriminately maim or kill the local rural population and leave vast areas chronically undeveloped due to fear of further injury.
Experts said the disasters led to economic stagnation and chronic high unemployment, while most local families struggled for survival and for safe access to roads, fields and available sources of clean water.
The tragedies have prompted the United States Department of State and partner organisations launch a demining project, centred on women, to reinvigorate humanitarian demining operations in Benguela.
A majority of female recruits are coming directly from the heavily mine-impacted districts of Balombo and Bocoio.
Andrew Strike, the US Department of State: Public Affairs Specialist in Political-Military Affairs, said the project would help ensure women took on a central role in the stabilisation and development of their home communities.
"By giving local woman a say in how mine clearance operations are conducted they can become agents of positive change and actively shape outcomes for themselves, their families, their communities and their country as a whole."
Demining organisations have in the past 22 years cleared more than 92 000 landmines and 162 000 items of unexploded ordnance in over 800 minefields in Angola.
The US has during the period provided more than $120 million to support the humanitarian demining efforts and the destruction of small arms and light weapons.