How explosive ordnance risk education keeps communities in South Sudan safe

This case study describes what EORE is, how SafeLane utilises it, how it is tailored to different audiences, and why it keeps communities in South Sudan safe.

What is Explosive Ordnance Risk Education?

Explosive ordnance risk education – or EORE – is the incorporation of a range of educational activities used to teach communities about the threats of explosive ordnance (EO) and landmines in their vicinity.

In South Sudan, many communities, particularly rural ones, lack access to educational materials and resources necessary to understand the threat that explosive ordnance poses.  This lack of understanding can prove lethal, especially to young children who may pick up and play with unknown objects that could be ordnance.

Wherever it works to breathe new life into contaminated environments, SafeLane Global considers EORE its moral duty.  By educating communities about threats from EO, lives can be saved. 

This case study will discuss the importance of EORE and the methods SafeLane uses to communicate this critical insight in South Sudan.

How SafeLane connects with communities to share its explosive ordnance risk education sessions

Our EORE teams begin by identifying communities that are exposed to the threat of EO, where they know their work will have a positive discernible impact.  Typically, these include villages and towns located near sites known to be, or highly likely to be contaminated with ordnance or mines.  As a key component of operational tasks, SafeLane’s Community Liaison/Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (CL/EORE) team will always visit the communities local to our Area of Operations (AoO).

Next, SafeLane’s Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) visit the local administration or village/payam chief to gain permission to host an EORE session.  Once permission has been granted, the local administration or chief will visit community hotspots, such as markets and churches, and encourage people to participate in the EORE session.

SafeLane’s EORE team will then select a suitable location to host the session.  This will typically be a comfortable, shaded area such as a nearby school or church. If these facilities are not available, SafeLane will establish a makeshift classroom in a cool shaded area, such as under tree cover.

How are explosive ordnance risk education sessions are structured?

Each member of SafeLane’s CL/EORE team introduces themselves to the local community.  They explain who they are, why they are here, and why EORE is important.  SafeLane’s South Sudan EORE teams typically consist of three CL / EORE officers.  

SafeLane’s EORE team will then ask the students a series of questions to gauge their EO knowledge.  The answers to these questions are recorded as a benchmarking tool for later.

Throughout the session, three main points are illustrated: how to recognise EO, why you should not touch any EO, and how to report the presences of EO.  SafeLane uses a range of educational tools and materials to communicate this information to groups, choosing the most accessible approach depending on the age-range and/or education levels of participants.

A typical EORE session lasts between 40 – 50 minutes.  Afterwards, the CL/EORE team will ask the students questions similar to those asked at the beginning of the session.  Based on the answers, SafeLane’s EORE team can analyse a participant’s understanding of the session and whether their teaching has been successful. 

SafeLane’s CL/EORE team will then conclude the session and hand out educational materials (such as posters and pamphlets) that the community can refer back to later.

How does SafeLane adapt their EORE to suit different demographics?

SafeLane’s CL/EORE teams tailor their sessions based on the age and education levels of their participants.  A session suitable for adults is not necessarily suitable for children – their ability to absorb information and stay focused differs. 

Teaching adults is typically more straight forward – they can consistently pay attention and understand the purpose of the lesson.  However, when it comes to teaching children, more creative methods need to be employed.

SafeLane’s CL/EORE teams in South Sudan have created unique approaches such as radio dramas, songs, and games to communicate EO knowledge to children.  Not only do these approaches help retain children’s attention, but they also make the information more accessible and therefore more memorable.

SafeLane’s Deputy Operations Manager, Edin Muric, has worked extensively in South Sudan and has conducted dozens of EORE sessions.  Edin recalls:

“…I remember creating a song for an EORE session in South Sudan in 2016.  When I returned to the country 5 years later, the village still remembered the song and would sing it regularly.”

By utilising the correct language and by employing memorable songs and games, children can be effective at spreading EORE knowledge through local communities.  This is particularly important as, realistically, not every member of a community will be able to attend an EORE session.  Further to this, SafeLane provides specially curated, colourful leaflets for children to take home with them.

Edin highlighted how important EORE is to young children.

“Children like to explore and venture outside the village.  They are naturally curious.  They like to pick up and play with objects to learn more about them.  With unexploded ordnance (UXO), this can be lethal.  Children need to understand how to identify explosive ordnance and what they should do if they encounter it.  Therefore, during our EORE sessions, we must make sure they assimilate the information correctly.”

SafeLane’s CL/EORE team provides diagrams illustrating all the different shapes and sizes EO can take.  This is complemented by activity pages (such as colouring sheets) that reinforce the knowledge in the children’s minds.

“We teach extreme caution to children… sometimes an item of ordnance can look like a familiar, safe object such as a cooking pot.  It is important that children stay mindful and do not risk picking up unidentified objects, even if they look familiar.”

Never underestimate the critical importance of explosive ordnance risk education

EORE can be utilised to inform communities of areas known to be contaminated as well as which areas have already been cleared.  Another important deliverable is informing those affected of when any planned demolitions are going to take place.  A sudden unexpected detonation can otherwise cause panic and confusion.

Oftentimes, warning communities to be careful and wary is not enough.  To access important resources or routes, communities may still deem the risk of travelling through potentially dangerous areas necessary.  However, by clearly outlining which areas are dangerous and which areas are safe, local communities can better plan their travels and not take unnecessary risks.

Teaching local communities about EO can also benefit SafeLane’s clearance operations.  EORE participants often inform SafeLane’s team of locations where they have seen mines or potential UXO. SafeLane can then investigate and clear these mines or items of UXO.

Ultimately, EORE saves lives.  It is an important tool and SafeLane believes it is an essential part of their work globally, particularly on ordnance clearance tasks.

SafeLane’s EORE in South Sudan

SafeLane Global continues to provide EORE sessions to affected communities in South Sudan, in addition to all the other countries it operates in.

SafeLane is committed to keeping communities safe and reducing ordnance-related fatalities and injuries across the world.

Read more about SafeLane’s risk education consultancy services via our risk education page.

To learn more about SafeLane’s EORE services, contact us today.

 

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