Clearing landmines near roads delivers economic boost

Professor Elias Papaioannou on why governments and policymakers should prioritise areas close to transport links when de-mining 

Landmine clearance

Clearing landmines from areas near to railways and roads rather than locations with no close transport links is more economically beneficial to a nation, according to Elias Papaioannou, Professor of Economics at London Business School (LBS). 

In an interview with the BBC World Service (starting at 15.54), he discussed his research, which explores the link between Mozambique’s economic activity and the de-mining that took place between 1992 and 2015. The African nation began clearing mines following the end of its civil war, which lasted 15 years (1977 to 1992). 

The research shows that the economic benefits of clearing landmines from areas close to transport links spills over into other nearby locations where there are no explosive devices. 

“If you clear a contaminated area, it’s not only that location that benefits – nearby ones do too,” he said. “In contrast, the spill over effects seem to be muted when clearing areas that are disconnected from railways and roads.”

He added that governments and policymakers needed to work together to develop an effective strategy for landmine clearance. 

“There has to be some strategic thinking rather than an ad hoc approach where one organisation from London clears an area and another body from France cleans up another. You need some collaboration between those parties.”

Jean-Baptiste Richardier, co-founder of the Humanity and Inclusion charity and a leading figure in mine clearance worldwide, spoke on the BBC World Service alongside Professor Papaioannou. He believes international policymakers should focus on de-mining in areas that will have the greatest economic impact, as they will “render life back to normal”. 

Both Richardier and Professor Papaioannou spoke about landmine clearance and humanitarianism at ‘Business and Fragile State, a Wheeler Institute for Business and Development event held at LBS in October 2018. 

The event explored the role that business can play in helping nations weakened by conflict and mass displacement of people. Read Doing business in a war zone 

Professor Papaioannou worked for two years on the research with Giorgio Chiovelli, Research Fellow at LBS, and Stelios Michalpoulos, Assistant Professor of Economics at Brown University.