Cost Benefit Analysis: A process by which you weigh expected costs against expected benefits to determine the best (or most profitable) course of action
We get asked all the time: "How much does it cost you to clear a landmine?" or "How many mines can you clear with the money we donate?"
Let's restructure that questions a bit:
If you were told there was a landmine in the park where your children played, how much money would you spend to find it? Or more simply put: what’s the value of your child’s life?
Cost benefit analysis in mine clearing tries to put a dollar value on a life versus the cost of a clearing program. You tell me what the dollar value of a human life is? I certainly don’t know.
How much does it cost to clear a mine field? We spend whatever it takes.
One mine – One life.
CSHD is clearing mines in ‘low priority’ villages. Many in the government don’t like that term. All villages and all lives are of equal importance. But in reality, some villages will be cleared later rather than sooner. Sometimes it’s because teams are not available, sometimes because funds are scarce, and sometimes because more mines can be cleared in a shorter period of time in other places. All these reasons ‘shove’ villages to the bottom of the list…low priority.
But they are NOT low priority to the people getting blown up.
We’re often asked ‘How many mines can you clear for the dollar?’ It’s an impossible question to answer clearly. If we clear a densely mined filed it’s low. If we clear a jungle field, where we have to hack our way in, with only a few mines per hectare, the cost may be high. The village we’re clearing now is the latter. Yet they’ve lost 5 dead, 3 maimed and 15 cattle. We’re clearing the land slowly because of the jungle bush we need to clear. But when we’re through 15 families will have land to farm and safely raise their children.
I can’t cost/benefit that. Can you?
The next mine field we’ll clear is an open field. We should be able to move quickly and clear it in a matter of weeks. Faster equals cheaper. But if we tried to work faster in Kokchombuk we’d likely miss some little mines. Faster may be cheaper, but it can also be deadly.
How do you cost/benefit a life; or a leg? Is the loss of your right hand worth more than loss of your left? If a child dies, do you value that at a lower amount than a working adult? Or do you calculate the ‘potential’ income the child would have in a lifetime to determine your cost/benefit ratio?
And the ultimate question: if you can cost/benefit a mine field, when do you just walk away and say: “It’s cheaper to let ‘em die.” That will clear the field too.
We don’t cost/benefit mine clearing. We’d rather look at lives changed and villages made free from fear.
One Mine – One Life