It looks like a gigantic tumbleweed rolling across the plain, but its purpose is deadly serious. Massoud Hansani, a designer and Afghan refugee, created a landmine detonator as his final graduate design project at the Design Academy in Eidenhoven, the Netherlands. For Hassani, whose native Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, a minesweeper seemed like a practical object that would be in widespread demand. According to the UN, more than 110 million active mines are scattered across 70 countries, with an equal number stockpiled waiting to be planted.
Inspired by the homemade toys he played with as a kid in Kabul, Hassani created a low-cost, wind-powered device, which he called Mine Kafon (“kafon” meaning exploder in Hassani’s Dari language). Hassani made his prototype minesweeper entirely from bamboo and biodegradable plastic, with plunger-like spikes on the tips. The length of the spikes were based on the height of an adult’s leg because the kinds of mines Mine Kafon is designed to clear are those that will take off a person’s leg below the waist. Costing as little as $40 to build, each detonator will withstand as many as four explosions – far less than the sometimes thousands of dollars it costs to clear just one mine. It is light enough to be carried along by a normal breeze, yet heavy enough to set off a mine it rolls over.
Although Mine Kafon has acknowledged limitations, Hassani has gotten the support of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to take the project to the next level. In media interviews, Hassani says he hopes his design will be useful in remote areas that are considered low priority for mine clearance. “It may prove useful to people who would otherwise have to wait decades for their farmlands to be cleared.” Hassani adds in a CNN interview, “The design industry is perhaps too focused on tables and chairs. I think we can use our talents to find design-based solutions to more serious problems.”