MiVAC was started by a couple of Australian Vietnam Veterans who cleared landmines in Vietnam and who had seen and felt firsthand the effects of these indiscriminate weapons. Initially comprising veterans, the group has broadened to include Humanitarian Aid Workers, members of the Peacekeeping Forces, and also many members of the general public who have a common desire to rid the world of these terrible weapons, and assist the victims and communities affected by them.
MiVAC is a totally voluntary organization enabling 95% of donor’s funds to reach their identified projects. MiVAC brings relief to people living in areas affected by mine warfare. Additionally MiVAC provides a positive focus for those who are aware, and are concerned, about what was left behind at the completion of conflicts or the withdrawal of troops. 260 million bombies and 2 million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos (now Lao PDR). 30% didn’t go off – so are left behind with the locals having to deal with the dreadful consequences.
Project Selection & Implementation Procedure
Following several years of operational experience in Lao PDR we have developed a project selection and implementation procedure in order to reduce, as far as practical, instances of failure. The procedure is outlined as follows;
- Particular areas of expertise. Provision of clean water piped from natural sources. Community buildings.
- Identify a project. The project MUST emanate from the end user. Imposed projects almost invariably fail. Projects are sought in areas where the inhabitants have been badly effected by mines, UXO’s and/or chemical agents. Inhabitants would probably be impoverished, located in a remote area and unlikely to receive aid in the medium to long term.
- Project planning. The local Government Authority/s would need to be very much involved along with the village/community committee in formulating the requirement. The plan would cover all aspects including approval through to ongoing running and maintenance costs after completion.
- Costing. Total estimated cost established often divided between the community and MiVAC, with typically the community providing labour and some timber, and local movement of construction stores.
- Sourcing donors. An ongoing requirement made more productive when a costed proposal is at hand.
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). A detailed written agreement usually tying together 3 parties being the recipient, the local Authority and MiVAC. It would be usual for MiVAC to enter into a separate MOU with the Donor.
- Detailed plans and approval. Preparation of working drawings, firming up locations, production of Bills of Materials and project cost estimates, culminating with the signed agreement of the user and the Authority. MiVAC works closely with the community and local Authority/s in all stages of the planning and approval process.
- Implementation. Care must be taken not to make the time frame too ambitious especially if using local labour. Deadlines are not a tool that we use. MiVAC ensures local Authority/s approve construction work at important stages through each project.
- Reporting. There needs to be a transparent system of control exercised over all financial and management aspects of the project. This control is to be exercised by MiVAC. Regular progress reports, with photos, will be provided to the donor.
- Completion and Training. It is preferable that the project be completed in identifiable stages so that the appropriate training may be undertaken by the appropriate Authority e.g. the sanitary aspects of using a WC facility or maintenance of a water supply system. It also provides an opportunity to reprogram if there were lessons learnt during the process. A completion report with financial details and photos will be provided to the donor.
- Wash up. Fully access the project with all interested parties. Canvas the possibility of investigating a new project.
The following photos show more clearly than words what we are presently accomplishing at Ban Souy Noi.
|Naiban inspecting the new weir|
|Supply pipe and trench|
|Storage tank formed and poured|
|Water point base formed and poured|
|Water point almost complete|
|Trenching for distribution pipe|