DeminingA dandelion-shaped device to help in demining operations

Published 9 January 2013

Decades of war have left land mines buried all over the Afghan countryside; they continue to go off, killing and maiming hundreds of  innocent people every year; last year alone, more than 812 people were wounded or killed in Afghanistan because of mines left behind after the armies retreated; two Afghan inventors designed a dandelion-like device for demining operations

 

Decades of war have left land mines buried all over the Afghan countryside. They continue to   go off, killing and maiming hundreds of  innocent people every year.

Last year alone, more than 812 people were wounded or killed in Afghanistan because of mines left behind after the armies retreated.

 

Now, Massoud Hassani has come up with a new, innovativesolution which can set some of these mines off, thus clearing large tracts of land, in the process  saving the lives of kids and adults alike.

AFP reports that the gadget, which Hassani calls a “mine kafon,” resembles a dandelion: 150 bamboo legs are screwed into a central metal ball. At the end of each leg is a round white plastic disc attached to a black rubber car part for drive shafts, called a CV-joint boot.

The name Kafon is short for “kafondan,” which means “something that explodes” in Dari, Hassani’s native tongue. According to Hassani, the design for the invention came from his childhood.

The idea comes from our childhood toys which we once played with as kids on the outskirts of Kabul,” Hassani told AFP as he rolled out the device for a demonstration.

The Kafon is designed to be  moved hither and yon with the wind,  setting off anti-personnel mines as it rolls around on the ground. The Kafon can be easily repaired becasue the legs are made out of readily available bamboo. The  metal ball contains a GPS device to pilot the path as its rolls through an area that contains mines.

Hassani and his brother Mahmud are now searching for sponsors. The brothers hope to raise $160,000 in donations by next month to continue development and to take the device to Afghanistan later this year for more trials.

Afghanistan has made progress  in cleaning up hidden mines in recent years, but it is still one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. According to the UN, as of June 2012 there were still 5,233 “danger zones” covering 527 miles, putting 750,000 people at risk.

Since 1989, 650,000 anti-personnel mines and 27,000 anti-tank mines have been collected, according to the UN-funded Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan(MACCA).

People are killed almost daily in my home country — and tragically it’s often kids, like what happened on Monday,” Hassani told AFP.

Hassani was referring to a day in early December, when ten Afghan girls collecting firewood were blown apart after one accidentally struck a mine with an axe.

The brothers say the Kafon is still in the testing phases, and that they are now working on  making sure that there is constantly 100 percent contact between the feet of the Kafon and the ground, so no mines are missed.

Initial trails with the Kafon, using explosives from the Dutch Defense Force as well as an in-the-field rolling test in Morocco, showed positive results.

We know this is a working prototype and that we need to do lots of testing still,” Hassani said, noting that the Kafon would not be deployed in the field until it was 100-percent proven.

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