24 October 2022

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Celebrating 25 Years of Saving Lives

APOPO was founded in response to a growing awareness that landmines kill and maim people and hamper development in post-conflict areas. Methods to rid affected countries of landmines were slow so a small team in Belgium founded APOPO to develop a fast, simple, and low-cost mine clearance method that could be sustained within national programs in low-income countries.

The focus of APOPO’s work is protecting the lives of people, animals and wildlife from weapons that have little to do with them. Allowing communities in Angola and Cambodia to safely cultivate land, raise livestock, educate children and feed their families. Day-to-day activities that are all too often take for granted. Thanks to the dedication and tireless hard work of APOPO teams, and generous support, over 1.7 million people feel the impact of our work.

Teaching people how to stay safe until the explosives can be removed is crucial to prevent people from getting hurt. Children are particularly at high risk. An unexploded landmine can look like a toy to a curious child. APOPO teaches people how to avoid, recognise and report explosive threats in their surroundings and promote positive behavior change in relation to landmines.

Before COVID-19, tuberculosis (TB) was the world’s leading cause of death from an infectious disease. Annually 1.1 million children around the world get TB and often go undetected as they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Since 2007, APOPO's HeroRATs have helped increase detection of new patients by over 40% for partner clinics in Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia. The high speed at which HeroRATs can search large numbers of samples as well as their high sensitivity, results in a very low cost of only €1 per sample tested.

Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery are APOPO’s largest recurring core funder. Since 2014, players have raised £5,169,421 in unrestricted funds for APOPO directly enabling the extensive, life-saving impact we are able to achieve.

New Applications

HeroRATs are small and can crawl through tight spaces and their excellent sense of smell equips them to search for humans in collapsed buildings. APOPO is now training them to search for survivors following natural disasters.

Their noses have also turned to saving the lives of fellow animals. APOPO is training rats to detect commonly trafficked wildlife samples in shipping containers, including scales from the most trafficked and endangered mammal, the pangolin.

APOPO is celebrating its 25th anniversary in November. For more information visit