Life seems peaceful in the village of Katiza in Zimbabwe. Families live off the land, growing cotton, sorghum and maize to eat and trade across the border in Mozambique. Children walk to the local school each day, water is collected from nearby boreholes, and cattle are grazed along the main road.
But the residents of Katiza have had to live with the consequences of two minefields—one to the north and the other to the south. The southern minefield has already been cleared by HALO deminers but on the northern minefield, work has only just begun.
This is a story of two halves; life among the landmines and the transformational impact of making land safe.
A shortage of land forced Angela and her four children to move from the south of the village to its northern edge. They now have more space but their house is less than 50 metres from one of the deadliest minefields in the world and much of their agricultural land is within the minefield itself, making it unusable.
Angela estimates they miss out on $100 a year by not farming the land—a huge sum when monthly incomes are around $60 per household. Two years ago, the family also lost a cow to the landmines. With cattle serving as an important saving mechanism for rural Zimbabweans, this has had a massive impact.
To survive, the family sells what they do grow in Mozambique—but this means a dangerous six-hour trek through the minefield for Angela’s husband. Her children also suffer the consequences of living next to mined land. Their school is only a few kilometres away but to avoid crossing the minefield they must make a two-hour detour. Angela lives in constant fear that her children will be injured and dreams of the day when the minefield will be cleared.
“I feel stressed all the time, especially if my husband and I have to go to another village and we have to leave the kids at home.”