Mine Kafon: Clearing Land Mines


Massoud Hassani and the Mine Kafon
Erwin Vander Zande, via Flickr

How could better design improve your life? Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at a new product design to destroy landmines.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

The five-minute film begins with a slow explosion. The words “Mine Kafon” slowly appear. The film begins to show a desert. There is a clear wide blue sky. A man begins speaking.

Voice 3 

“My name is Massoud Hassani. I was born in Afghanistan. We lived near the city of Kabul, on the edge of a desert. Back then there were many militaries from foreign countries. They would train there with guns and explosives. When they went home, they left lots of explosives and mines behind.”

Voice 2

This short film is by Callum Cooper. The film tells a little about Hassani’s history. It shows beautiful images of Afghanistan. And it tells about the Mine Kafon. This is Hassani’s device. It clears some of these explosive devices - landmines. Today’s Spotlight is on Massoud Hassani and his device for destroying and clearing landmines.

Voice 1 

Hassani was born in Afghanistan, but he did not stay there. In the 1980s, a rocket attack killed his father. His family escaped Afghanistan. They travelled until they were accepted as refugees in the Netherlands.

Voice 2 

In the Netherlands, Hassani studied at a design school. As a design student, Hassani remembered his past in Afghanistan. Landmines are a big problem for people living there. These devices are buried under the ground. A person does not know a landmine is there until he steps on it. Then it explodes. On his website, Hassani remembers how the landmines affected him. He writes:

Voice 3 

“My brother, Mahmud and I played every day on the fields. We were surrounded by the highest mountains in our neighbourhood. When we were young, we learned to make our own toys. One of my favorites was a small rolling object that was wind-powered. We used to race our toys against the other children on the fields around our neighbourhood. There was always a strong wind waving toward the mountains. While we were racing against each other, our toys rolled too fast and too far. Mostly they landed in areas where we could not go rescue them because of landmines. I still remember those toys I had made that we lost. I remember watching them just beyond where we could go.”

Voice 1

Landmines are still a problem in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan. The United Nations estimates that there are about 110 million buried active landmines. They are in over 70 different countries. Many countries do not permit use of landmines. But the UN says people still use them illegally.

Voice 2 

Organizations across the world work to get rid of landmines. But getting rid of landmines costs a lot of money. Landmine experts say that clearing just one mine can cost thousands of dollars.

Voice 1

Hassani had an idea to clear the landmines in the area around his childhood home. During his last month at design school, Hassani had to produce a final project. He thought about the wind-powered toys he had made as a child. And he thought about the problem of landmines. So for his final design project, he combined these two ideas. He made the Mine Kafon. The design for the Mine Kafon is similar to the design of Hassani’s toys from childhood. But it is much larger. And it is designed to blow up landmines.

Voice 2 

The Mine Kafon is made from bamboo and plastic. It looks almost like a large ball. It begins as a small round base inside the ball. Thin pieces of bamboo come out from the base in all directions. Each piece of bamboo is about the length of an adult’s leg. At the end of each piece of bamboo there is a round piece of plastic. The Mine Kafon is light enough so that the wind can move it. But it is heavy enough to make the landmine explode.

Voice 1

When a land mine does explode, it blows up one or two bamboo pieces from the Mine Kafon. But even if it explodes a landmine, the Mine Kafon can continue. Hassani writes on his blog that it could survive up to four landmine explosions in one journey. The Mine Kafon can also communicate where it has already gone. Hassani explains:

Voice 3

“The Mine Kafon also has a GPS chip in it. You can follow its movement on the website and see where it went. You can see the safest paths to walk on and how many landmines are destroyed in that area.

Voice 2 

But one of the best things about the Mine Kafon is that it costs very little money. All the materials together cost about 50 US dollars.

Voice 1 

Some mine experts have expressed concern about the Mine Kafon. They say that it is not an organized way of getting rid of landmines. Its movement depends on the way the wind is moving. It will not clear a whole area of bombs. Adam Komorowski works at the Mine Advisory Group. This group works to remove land mines and other weapons left after war. He told CNN:

Voice 4 

“It looks to me that there is also a huge problem in terms of land. I cannot see it working on hills or areas with a lot of plants.”

Voice 2 

Hassani knows that his design can be improved. In December 2012, Hassani posted his video on the internet to ask for money. He explained how he would use the money to improve his design. He would use it to test the improved Mine Kafon in Morocco. He hoped that he could employ engineers. These engineers could help him make more Mine Kafons, in a better way.

Voice 1 

By January 2013, Hassani had raised more money than he asked for. People around the world gave money to help produce the Mine Kafon. He will use the money to begin improving his design. Hassani will also be showing the Mine Kafon in the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the United States. The Mine Kafon is useful and beautiful. But Hassani’s main goal is not to raise money or to show his art. He wants to save lives. His low-cost, wind-powered device could change the lives of people around the world. In his video he says:

Voice 3 

“They say Afghanistan has 10 million landmines. In truth there are far, far more. Every destroyed land mine means a saved life. And every life is important.”

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Mine Kafon: Clearing Land Mines’.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you like to make things? What kind of things do you make?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on April 04, 2013

Our earth needs our care. Our earth has green fields and trees, streams, waterfalls, mountains and blue seas. The sky is blue. The clouds are white. The air is clean. We are happy when we get to live in peace. We care for our earth to be always beautiful. We build for peace so that everyone gets happiness. We wish peace. We wish true peace.

Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on April 07, 2013

I live in Vietnam.My country spent a long war period.Although we are living in the peace,there are many landmines buried in some areas where foreign militaries stationed.It is very dangerous for people.But we haven’t applied this new device for clear landmines.

I really appreciate Hassani with his idea.I wish his project will be sucessful for and safety peaceful world goal .
Have a nice day!

Avatar Spotlight
tukiet
said on May 11, 2014

Hello. I live in vietnam. Landmines has be problem with government of my country. Every year,  there are a lot of peoples injured by mine, especially is child. I hope Hassani ‘s idea can help people in the world.

hellokitty's avatar
hellokitty
said on May 16, 2014

I hope that Hassani’s idea spread in the world, so people can have help from him.

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on May 16, 2014

This is really a well-advised invention to get rid of landmines. Many human’s lives can be rescued in this unusual way. There more Mine Kafons are needed to spread across the world, this device seems to be the hope for human’s lives in the future.
Greetings!

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on May 20, 2014

Good project

Avatar Spotlight
antoine
said on October 20, 2015

I think it’s a good device ,it’s cheap but we can’t trust it
it needs a another device installed on it to confirm that in fact there’s no any mine left there