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In order to develop truly fertile land and affluent communities and build a healthy and rich environment for people living in areas throughout the world, it is important to focus on solving the social issues that each local community faces. For example, let’s consider Cambodia. In Cambodia, which is said to have the greatest concentration of buried landmines, the Hitachi Construction Machinery Group is providing support for Cambodians becoming self-sufficient through help for Good Earth Japan (GEJ), a specified non-profit organization (specified NPO) that operates in the country.
For almost 30 years starting in 1970, Cambodia struggled through civil war. During the civil war, the four factions (government army, Khmer Rouge, supporters of King Sihanouk, and supporters of Son Sann) laid a vast number of anti-personnel landmines in this small country. Anti-personnel landmines are a major humanitarian problem because they indiscriminately cause harm to general citizens and threaten the safety of local residents. Many of the mines buried during the civil war are still there, and they continue to cause many injuries and deaths. It is estimated that between four and six million landmines were buried, and Cambodia is called the country with the greatest concentration of buried landmines in the world.
Landmines, which threaten the safety of people and hinder social development, are a major social problem faced by Cambodia. In order to overcome that problem, government bodies and NGOs continue the work of clearing landmines even today.
On the other hand, once the landmines have been removed, what remains is wild land. There is no infrastructure foundation to support life and society, and local residents lack the knowhow to develop the land and make it fertile. While Cambodia is an agricultural country, and most farmers make a living by growing rice, productivity is low, and life is difficult. Furthermore, many people have been injured by landmines, and it is not easy for these people to become self-sufficient.
The specified NPO Good Earth Japan (GEJ) works to rebuild local communities after landmines have been cleared and provides support for people rebuilding self-sufficient lives. We are working on a project to partner with Cambodians to develop fertile land through support for GEJ, such as fund-raising drives. Established in 2007, GEJ launched its support activities in April of the same year in the village of Slap Pang in Battambang Province, Cambodia. The NPO has upheld the vision of “aiming to revitalize the land after landmines are cleared and to realize the peaceful and wealthy society where children always have smiles on their faces.” Since its establishment, in addition to continually undertaking activities with a focus on not only support for physical infrastructure, such as building both general-purpose and agricultural roads in areas cleared of mines, but also soft infrastructure, including road maintenance/repair technology and agricultural technology so that people living in the area can become self-sufficient, GEJ has expanded the fields it provides support in.