The Cambodian Mine Action Center on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a demining NGO to use rats to detect mines in Siem Reap province.
The MoU between the CMAC and the demining NGO APOPO is for demining operations, which cost about $200,000, from January to December next year.
Heng Ratana, CMAC director-general, could not be reached for comment yesterday but wrote on his Facebook page that the demining project involves the use of mine-detecting rats.
“On 17 December 2018, at CMAC Phnom Penh Headquarters, I signed a MoU with APOPO for cooperation in using rats for demining operations for a period of 12 months, with total project funding of approximately $200,000, in Siem Reap province,” he said.
Srey Rithisak, project manager of CMAC in Siem Reap province, said that the NGO will offer the rats to CMAC to work on demining.
“The NGO will give us the rats and CMAC will test if they are able to sniff out mines before we take them to do the work along with the NGO’s staff,” he said. “According to the MoU, the demining will only be conducted in Siem Reap province but in exceptional circumstances we can request for work to be done outside the province.”
Mr Rithisak noted that the border between Cambodia and Thailand has the most number of mines.
Srey Ny, with APOPO in Siem Reap province, said yesterday the MOU is part of a cooperation deal which can be renewed annually.
“Our project is about demining and I received the aid from Belgium. We started our work in Cambodia in 2014. Our NGO and CMAC work together in demining as mentioned by Mr Ratana,” he said. “We normally sign the MOU once a year and we will renew according to our work performance on an annual basis.”
“We currently have one MOU with CMAC in Siem Reap province and the other one in Preah Vihear province,” Mr Ny added. “We have the expertise in using rats to detect mines and we also have dogs, but in this project, we don’t use them.”