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Electrical Technician Michael Orwaka supports Somalia camp maintenance

As part of our #MineActionApril, discover how Michael’s role supports explosive threat mitigation work in Somalia.

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Michael Orwaka is an Electrical Technician working to support humanitarian operations in Somalia. 

As an Electrical Technician, Michael’s work is crucial to the successful establishment and maintenance of SafeLane camps, and work within the sectors.  The installation of power and water supplies enables essential communications and provides critical facilities for the teams within the camps. 

Michael kindly spent some time telling us a little bit more about the vital work he does and the role he plays within the mine action sector.

“The work we do as a support team assists the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and improvised explosive ordnance disposal (IEDD) guys in the sectors and at the FOBs.  Issues regarding water or power supply are incredibly disruptive to the work these teams are doing - so my role requires rapid responses and a lot of travel.

When I was younger, I had hoped to work in the military in some capacity.  However, once I completed my studies, I began to work in a clearance support capacity for a project in Sudan.  Since then, I’ve been using my skill set to support and enable vital clearance operations in a variety of locations.

Assisting positive change to a community is very rewarding - this is our basic mission.

Successful camp set up is essential for operations but it’s also important to do whatever we can to make the teams feel at home.  Things that may sound simple - such as working air conditioning – can have a huge impact on morale.  I take pride in creating a comfortable, working environment for everyone. 

It’s also important that people know they have a good support team that is there for them and will give them the help they need - quickly!  As well as providing face to face maintenance and fixes, we offer remote assistance and training to further support the teams across all locations. 

The travel for the job comes with risks due to working in austere and conflict environments. To be able to successfully set up a power generator and providing the teams with AC despite the security challenges is a huge achievement. I proud of the work we have done in the face of security threats and challenges.  We finish the day knowing that we are part of something that creates more stability and safety for everyone.

When I first came to Somalia there were many areas that no one could go to.  The EOD teams came and slowly cleared the roads, and this enabled people to be able to move more and expand their communities. 

Having access to safe roads and seeing the reduction of a threat is hugely important for the local living in Somalia.  It is still a warzone in places, but now at least some members of the community can feel like they have some peace in their land. 

For me, seeing the progress of clearance is also hugely motivational - to see a camp go from nothing to a fully functional home that will house personnel who will work to improve the community makes me very proud.

When working to support clearance operations, you learn a lot of really unique things.  When you’re working in warzones - picking up this information has an impact on your life and is knowledge you can take with you.

I’ve achieved a lot with SafeLane and the experience has given me some basic knowledge about the threats faced in this environment - even some small knowledge helps us know how to protect ourselves.  So, this will help me in my future life no matter what I end up doing.”

We want to take this opportunity to thank Michael for his dedication and commitment to supporting explosive threat mitigation operations.  Establishing camps and FOBs is crucial to the successful delivery of operations.  A career in mine action can offer some unique challenges but offers huge rewards.  Thank you, Michael for giving up your time to tell us how you support vital humanitarian work in

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