MiVAC was formed by Australian Army Engineers, who have a strong background in unexploded ordnance (UXO) identification and disposal, as well as construction and maintenance of water supply systems. We are an Australian registered charity, and our members and Board are all volunteers, enabling 95% of donor’s funds to reach their identified projects.
MiVAC has operated in SE Asia for some 16 years – initially to clear mines and UXO and we embraced the need to marry mine clearance with development assistance to the communities affected by mines and UXO. More recently, MiVAC has concentrated on supplying clean water and toilets, with associated education and training, to poorer villagers who have been affected by the remnants of war.
Within the inaugural document “Rules and Objects of the MiVAC Trust”, the objects are:
1. to provide care of individuals and communities identified as being victims of mine warfare, in the form of food, clothing, personal necessities, money or whatever other format the Trustees may choose;
2. to provide care of individuals who have been rendered orphans, homeless or destitute as a result of mine warfare and to provide such refuges, shelters, homes, institutions and other places of care;
3. to encourage and support counselling and to support education and an awareness of the rights of others, for persons directly or indirectly affected by mine warfare;
4. to provide medical assistance to the survivors or other persons affected by mine warfare
5. to assist in funding land mine clearance teams or to provide funding for land mine clearance teams including the provision of equipment and training; and
6. to do such other acts or things as the Trustees may consider appropriate.
Following several years of operational experience in Lao PDR, MiVAC 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 affected 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.