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Land mines keep poor people poor, decades after the conflict - United Nations

Project Motivation

Landmines are a uniquely savage in the history of modern warfare remaining on the ground long after the cessation of hostilities.

Currently, land mines affect the lives of people in more than 50 countries around the world, while a dozen or so countries are still classified as “heavily-impacted” by land mines. And land mines and improvised explosive devices have been used extensively over the past years in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other civil-war torn countries. Twelve United Nations Specialized Agencies, Departments and Offices, funds and programmes play a role in land-mine action around the world, while the international community spends close to one billion US dollars per year solely on clearance.

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What happens to the economic performance of a region contaminated by explosive remnants of war (unexploded ordnance and landmines) when it is finally cleared? Which regions benefit the most? And what are the aggregate country-wide effects of landmine clearance? To address these questions, we collected data covering the two-decade-long landmine clearance operations in Mozambique, the only so-far heavily contaminated by landmines country that has been declared landmine free.

Our empirical analysis shows small-to-moderate average effects of landmine clearance on local economic activity, as reflected on satellite images on light density at night. However, clearance has considerable effects on areas close to the main roads-railroads.  Due to sizable spillovers from clearance operations of the infrastructure network, the economy-wide effects of landmine clearance are large. Our results carry implications for landmine clearance operations around the world.