These deserted areas create an economic problem due to the lack of infrastructure development; 11,000 are internally displaced persons as a result of regional tensions. Because landmines prevent many of these people from returning to their homes, the economic and social stability of the country suffers.
Anne and David Gaze relocated to Europe with their children in 2000-2010, immediately identifying a huge need in the Balkan area to clear mines. Once a war is over, Red Cross, WHO, UNESCO and United Nations moves in very quickly – they repair and re-open vital transport conduits – airports, major arterials and ports. Then they leave to the next ‘hot spot’.
For over 20 years multiple villages remained totally uninhabitable. The consequences were that the young left, relocating usually out of the Croatia, Serbia for brighter futures, leaving the parents unable to relocate and living in temporary housing.
What was needed were funds to remove the landlines and allow families to reoccupy their villages. David immediately entered into discussions with the United Nations and they quickly partnered to deliver his answer – removal of the mines via Corporate Social Responsibility funding, typically from the United States and global Fortune 500 companies. David’s model was to deliver partial ownership of the villages to the CSR partner – typically when a Microsoft, or equal, deliver funds, it is written off on their books as a charitable donation. But the huge funds needed and to attract the attention of CSR funding, a different look was needed.
David offered partial ownership – the villagers let go ownership rights in return for CSR funding – and David utilised these funds to eradicate the mines, rebuild schools, churches, medical centres and homes and deliver back to the villagers. The villagers no longer had full ownership, but they now had ability to occupy – they now had their village back. David only employed the village youths (long left but called ‘home’) for the reconstruction, to encourage their return and to upskill them in the construction industry = collateral benefit.
There are only two de-mining companies in the world and once they had de-mined (to the guarantee of 99.8%), reconstruction started. The upside for the likes of Microsoft is that they now part-own the Sarajevo Ski Fields – the cost of de-mining will never evidence a return over the upcoming century as to de-mine, say, 1 sqm of land, it is at a cost of, say US$500 psm. But, once the land is de-mined, land in the area is still only worth $5.00 psm – it will take a very long time before any value is ever seen on a corporate’s asset sheet, but in 100 years time, there might be. And the collateral benefit is that the villagers re-occupy their villages and future generations are reared there.