Digger Foundation

The Digger Foundation is a not-for-profit organization recognized as a public utility in Switzerland. It is based in Tavannes, in the Bernese Jura. The organization promotes technical assistance in the field of humanitarian mine clearance . Operating under the name of DIGGER DTR , it develops, implements and markets mine clearance machines (demonstrating Swiss industrial and technical expertise) to assist mine clearers and significantly increase the productivity of their work. [1]


in 1998. Frédéric Guerne, an electronics engineer, had just finished a 2-year mine detection project with EPFL . He later crossed paths with Michel Diot (Co-founder of the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action ) who helped to make his work clearer and easier. Frédéric Guerne teamed up with some 30 volunteers from a range of different backgrounds as part of this project.

Following some 15,000 hours of intense activity, the DIGGER D-1 prototype was finally put to use in the field. After this experience, the mine will be developed further. The aim is not only to clear the ground of vegetation, but also to detonate the mines by turning the soil over. Achieving this is a further development and a thorough redesign to create a machine with the necessary power. The organization operates on a volunteer basis for 6 years. However, the scope of the project requires the organization to be more professional. For the last 10 years, Digger has been employing some 15 paid staff at the site of the military training arsenal in Tavannes. [1]

The benefits of Digger

What is the rationale of a small-for-profit structure in the atypical and highly specialized world of humanitarian mechanical demining?

Due to their status, the Digger Foundation can not reward shareholders. All the available means are dedicated to the preparation of projects, the operational and the governmental, and to research and development. This characteristic leads to a constant progression, which fits the evolving needs of the users in the field.

As an officially recognized public utility organization by the Swiss government, and ZEWO certified, the Digger Foundation is a direct interlocutor of the institutional donors, contrary to the commercial manufacturers. This approach has a unique role in providing effective tools. This concept works. Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Senegal, Mozambique, Benin and Bosnia.

In addition to being an interlocutor of the donor, the Digger Foundation, with its many years of experience and operations in the field of activities. Whether it is at technology level, efficient project design, logistic, training, standards and relationship within the international demining world, Digger is an honest partner, with a comprehensive know-how and renown for its professionalism.

The institutional donors we have worked with in various fields are unanimous. They describe as an efficient partner, qualified and extremely motivated. In the humanitarian field, operations are not always proving a success, the outcome of the projects far from certain contexts are complex and evolving. To work with a competent partner can make a real difference.

Coming from the industrial world, the Digger founder, Frederic Guerne, wished to be involved in the humanitarian world, the spirit of performance prevails in it. With no compromises in regards to their ethic [1]

A weapon against landmines

The response to the problem of landmines in the United States of America is based on the principle of an armament of blast-resistant vehicles.

In order to guarantee the complete safety of the operator, who remains at a good distance from the danger zone, the vehicle is remote controlled. It is fitted with a device which has a density of 25 cm. This operation makes the mines safe by preparing the ground for post-inspection in the best possible conditions. This last stage of the process is in line with the definition of mine. [1]

Proof that it works

With a team of 10 people (mine clearers, mechanics, drivers, cooks and medical personnel) can achieve the same results as a team of 200 to 300 manual mine clearers and their managers.

$ 250 per month on average, this means $ 750,000!

In reality, despite the substantial initial outlay, the machine causes a significant fall in the cost of mine clearing per m².

By way of example, after 18 months of using DIGGER D-3, Handicap International in Senegal. Not to mention the bonus of zero risk for the mine clearers! [1]

Expo Digger

In addition to its active role on the ground, since its inception, Digger has been working to communicate on the problems of landmines through conferences. A project for a special and original Digger museum took shape in May 2011 with the aim of reinforcing this educational and awareness-raising approach.

Expo Digger is located on the production site in Tavannes and depicts the daily lives of the victims in a very realistic manner. It demonstrates how the solutions provided [1]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Jump up to:f [1] , An introduction to the Digger Foundation.

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