A recent article in The Economist reports that southeastern Myanmar is “one of the most mine-ridden regions in the world”, where “over 5m Burmese people live in areas contaminated by landmines, most of which are concentrated on the long border with Thailand.” In spite of the lethal consequences of landmines, demining has been out of the question because “ ‘they are still viewed very much as a military asset rather than a humanitarian issue,’ says a director at one Western anti-mine lobby.”
However, this is indeed very much a humanitarian issue as seen in Wade Roberts’ book, Landmines in Cambodia: Past, Present, and Future, which provides the first and only comprehensive historical account of landmine-related contamination in Cambodia. Although the study was done on Cambodia, the issues are nevertheless pertinent to other countries, including Myanmar. In fact, Dr. Robert Keeley, author of The Economics of Landmine Clearance, commends the book because “the utilisation of measuring tools such as the ones developed in this book could help rational decision making and assist in that laudable aim of ‘doing the greatest good for the greatest possible number’.”
He also praises Roberts because he “is a man who clearly cares deeply about the problems caused by landmines and the fate of the rural poor of Cambodia” and this can be seen in the personal experience he relates in the book: “Sarun Sot was standing in an open field outfitted with a worn sack dangling from one shoulder. On his other shoulder, he had positioned a strap which was connected to the shaft of a metal detector. The strap helped to hold the weight of the device as he motioned it left and right in concentrically expanding semicircle patterns. Alone, he was searching for metal. Sarun was 12 years old. His family relied on the income he acquired selling the snippets and oddments of metal he unearthed.” All this would be done in landmine-ridden areas, with Sarun not being an exception but the rule.
Given the rich combination of quantitative and qualitative data coupled with the practical recommendations delineated, this book will be of immense value to scholars in poverty management studies, policy studies, and sociology.
Professors, if you would like to use this for your class, refer your librarian to the Cambria Press Desk Copy Plus Program that helps you get free versions for your students!
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