Humanitarian Mine Action

Updated for 2021, this website is an information resource for Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA). The content reflects the personal experience and opinions of me, Andy Smith (AVS). My views should not be presumed to represent the opinion of any of the people or organisations I have worked with.

Evidence Based Field Risk Management
(a 2020 paper asking for honesty in this industry)

Comparing manual demining methods

What is HMA and how does it differ from military demining?

How can I become a deminer?

Essential safety data missing

Three failings of the ICBL

Assessing the use of rats as detectors

Land Release - reducing standards

Why not chase efficiency?

IEDs in Humanitarian Mine Action

GICHD - still not fit for purpose?

The slow death of International Standards

Landmines and HMA glossary

Site index

For detailed reports on accidents in which deminers have detonated an explosive hazard as they work, see the Database of Demining Accident victims at DDAS online. These reports are often snapshots of demining activity and can help you to understand the varied processes involved, and the varied risks associated with them. See also the accident case studies under Powerpoint downloads.

If you are a newcomer to HMA, I suggest that you start with the introduction to demining and then read Myths about mines and demining.

I hope that sharing information on this website will reduce the number of 'cowboy' operators at all levels in the demining community, from researcher to hands-on deminer.

landmines cowboys badge

Many thanks to Craig and Hum Relyea in the USA who gave me this site in 2002.

gun sculpture

And thanks to the late Hans Georg Kruessen who awarded me the above sculpture in recognition of my work in demining. It is made from recycled assault rifles. While I am no kind of knight, I do wear armour, like horses, and I advocate using long handtools. I also believe in tilting at the odd establishment windmill, of course.

About Andy Smith


Past caring
Clicking above leads to a lengthy summary of my field and office experience while working in humanitarian demining. Honest and sometimes critical, it uses parts of a longer (and much funnier) book that should be published before too long. See also:
Developing safer hand tools
Developing body armour for demining
Developing face and eye protection

Area Preparation Machines
Black Adder disrupters
The Database of Demining Accidents

My work on PPE in HMA
I added this section to record what I have done in developing HMA PPE. I hope it will inspire others to do better.

Powerpoint downloads
This link leads to a collection of powerpoint slide shows and scripts on a range of topics, including IEDs, risk management and accident case studies. Very pictorial, these are probably the most 'entertaining' things on this site.

Introducing humanitarian demining (for newcomers)
This page leads to step-by-step explanations of what humanitarian demining is. These are simpler than the Global SOPs, so may be a better introduction for newcomers.

Global SOPs for HMA
My Global SOPs explain how humanitarian demining can be conducted safely and responsibly. Previous versions of these SOPs have been widely downloaded and adapted for use. Users should study the latest versions and edit them to fit their needs when necessary They are currently available as *.pdf or *.doc files through the introductory page, or as *.PDF files by clicking below:
Chapter 0: Introduction and glossary
Chapter 3: Releasing land
Chapter 6: Search & Clearance
Chapter 7: IED Search & Clearance
Chapter 8: Mechanical demining
Chapter 9: Use of MDD (EDD)
Chapter 10: Use of SUA (UAV, drones)
Chapter 14: Risk management in HMA

I will add the rest if they are ever completed. Meantime the old 'Generic SOPs' are here.

Issues and comment
This page leads to varied comment on issues about which I have been asked questions. A few are listed below.
Do free-running search dogs work?
Is there any HD in Iran?
Is it safe to use rakes to find mines?
How can I dig up mines safely?
Is it safe to use handheld magnets?

Articles, papers and books
PPE development and needs in HMA
Black Adder disrupters
Small Unmanned Aircraft in HMA
Seeking cooperation between field and research
The way forward for R&D
Is it safe to prod for mines?
Mined area Indicators – Angola
MRE Resource Kurdistan / Iraq

Metal-detector handbook for HD
Using accident records for training
Why military demining is not HD
Myths, mines and demining

Landmines, submunitions, etc
Featured in accidents
AP blast mines
AP Fragmentation mines
AT mines
Explosive (HE) in mines
HSE mines

© 2002 - 2021 Andy Smith, AVS, Humanitarian Mine Action specialist