Mine-risk education, or MRE, refers to educational activities aimed at reducing the risk of injury from mines and unexploded ordnance by raising awareness and promoting behavioural change through public-information campaigns, education and training, and liaison with communities.
MRE ensures that communities are aware of the risks from mines, unexploded ordnance and/or abandoned munitions and are encouraged to behave in ways that reduce the risk to people, property and the environment. Objectives are to reduce the risk to a level where people can live safely and to recreate an environment where economic and social development can occur free from the constraints imposed by landmine contamination.
MRE, along with demining (which includes technical surveys, mapping, clearance of unexploded ordnance and mines, marking unsafe areas, and documenting areas that have been cleared), contributes to mine-risk reduction, or limiting the risk of physical injury from mines and unexploded ordnance that already contaminates the land. Advocacy and the destruction of landmine stockpiles focus on preventing future use of mines.
According to the Landmine Monitor Report (2009), in 2008, MRE was provided in 57 states and areas, compared to 61 states and areas in 2007. However, in the 1999 MRE programs were identified in just 14 states. MRE activities increased significantly in Yemen and Somaliland, and also increased to some degree in 10 other states. In Palestine, RE decreased in 2008 but rose sharply in response to conflict in Gaza in December 2008–January 2009. Some of the main players in MRE include the Mines Advisory Group, Handicap International Belgium, Save the Children, INTERSOS, DanChurchAid, Norwegian People's Aid, the Mines Awareness Trust, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Within the UN system UNICEF is the lead agency for MRE and supports programmes in 30 countries. In 2001, UNICEF with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, formed the Mine Risk Education Working Group to provide a forum in which MRE practitioners could share experiences and establish best practices. The group includes more than 100 practitioners from around the world.
International standards have been developed to guide the management of MRE programmes. These standards emphasize that MRE should typically not be a stand-alone activity; it is an integral part of overall mine-action planning and implementation.
"Public information" in the context of mine action describes landmine and unexploded ordnance situations and informs and updates a broad range of stakeholders. Such information may focus on local risk-reduction messages, address broader national issues such as complying with legislation or raise public support for mine-action programmes.
Public information "dissemination," however, refers primarily to public-information activities that help reduce the risk of injury from mines and unexploded ordnance by raising awareness of the risk to individuals and communities, and by promoting behavioural change. It is primarily a one-way form of communication transmitted through mass media. Public information-dissemination initiatives may be stand-alone MRE projects that are implemented in advance of other mine-action activities.
"Education and training" in MRE encompasses all educational and training activities that reduce the risk of injury from mines, unexploded ordnance and/or abandoned munitions by raising awareness of the threat to individuals and communities and promoting behavioural change. Education and training is a two-way process, which involves the imparting and acquiring of knowledge, changing attitudes and practices through teaching and learning.
Education and training activities may be conducted in formal and non-formal environments: teacher-to -child education in schools, information shared at home from parents to children or from children to their parents, child-to-child education, peer-to-peer education in work and recreational environments, landmine safety training for humanitarian aid workers and the incorporation of landmine safety messages in occupational heath and safety practices.
Community liaison refers to the systems and processes used to exchange information between national authorities, mine-action organisations and communities on the presence of mines, unexploded ordnance and abandoned munitions. It enables communities to be informed about planned demining activities, the nature and duration of the tasks, and the exact locations of marked or cleared areas. Furthermore it enables communities to inform local authorities and mine-action organizations about the location, extent and impact of contaminated areas. This information can greatly assist the planning of related activities, such as technical surveys, marking and clearance operations, and survivor-assistance services. Community liaison ensures that mine-action projects address community needs and priorities. Community liaison should be carried out by all organizations conducting mine-action operations.
Community liaison services may begin far in advance of demining activities and help the development of local capacities to assess the risks, manage information and develop risk-reduction strategies.