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Posts Tagged ‘APOPO’

Week of the Hero Rats: Media Focuses on APOPO For World Tuberculosis Day

March 25, 2015 by

We have seen dozens of articles on APOPO‘s HeroRats, giant African pouched rats which can sniff out tuberculosis quickly and cheaply, thus saving countless lives.

Some tidbits from recent top stories:

Agence France-Presse: “Giant rats may strike fear and disgust into the hearts of homeowners worldwide, but researchers in impoverished Mozambique are improbably turning some of them into heroes. Placed inside a glass cage, a rat darts from sample to sample, then stops or rubs its legs, indicating that a sample is infected with a TB causing bacteria. Once the task is complete, it is given a treat through a syringe for a job well done.”

GOOD: “Rats are rewarded for every diagnosis made, which sounds like a pretty sweet gig considering their entire job consists of smelling things. Sign me up! APOPO, the non-profit organization supervizing the research, also has a separate program to train rats to detect mines.”

And in Fast Company Co.Exist, the journalist focused on the rats’ other main task: Sniffing out land mines.

Danielle Lee has a message for the world: rats are smarter than you think. One day, they may even save you from being blown up. Lee, a biologist and postdoc at Cornell, studies the natural history and behavior of African giant pouched rats, a type of large rodent native to sub-Saharan Africa that can sniff out bombs. Lee is currently working with APOPO, a nonprofit in Tanzania that trains the African giant pouched rat to sniff out landmines. Since its launch in 2000, APOPO has used the rats to find 2,400 landmines in neighboring Mozambique.”

Learn more:



“I Teach Rats to Locate Landmines:” Bart Weetjens in the Financial Times

March 3, 2015 by

Bart Weetjens of APOPO was just featured in the Financial Times. An excerpt:

“When I first approached people with the idea of using rats to find landmines they laughed at me. I spoke to the military in Belgium, where I’m from, and several other organisations but they said I was crazy.

It’s now been 11 years since we trained our first rat and we’ve used them to help clear more than eight million square metres of land, uncovering about 3,000 mines and more than 1,000 unexploded bombs. There are now more than 300 rats working in places like Gaza, Mozambique, Thailand and Angola. Their sense of smell is much more advanced than a dog’s, and they are much lighter and less likely to trigger a mine. We’ve never lost a rat in action — we call them Hero Rats.

Read the rest:


APOPO in National Geographic

August 20, 2014 by

National Geographic just featured APOPO in a story called “Giant Rats Trained to Sniff Out Tuberculosis in Africa.” An excerpt:

“Training rats to detect TB is a relatively new endeavor for APOPO, the Belgian nonprofit organization that’s best known for using rats to find land mines. APOPO began using TB rats in Tanzania in 2008 and in Mozambique in 2013. Currently, the animals work in 21 medical centers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital, and double-check 75 percent of potential TB samples from medical centers in the Mozambique capital of Maputo.

Like the battle against land mines, the fight against TB—which claimed 480,000 lives in Africa in 2012, 58,000 of them in Mozambique, according to the World Health Organization—is badly in need of an innovative, rapid, and affordable detection technique.”

Read the rest:


APOPO Awarded £60,000 to Clear Landmines in Mozambique – with Rats, of Course

January 3, 2014 by

Britain is funding a program to train giant rats to sniff out thousands of buried landmines in Mozambique, and Skoll Awardee APOPO is central to this work, according to a new article in The Mirror.

Bart Weetjens, APOPO’s founder, told The Mirror: “The work of APOPO is all about empowering communities living in limited resources settings to tackle difficult, dangerous and expensive detection tasks more independently.

“Using a sustainable local resource – our hero rats – and involving our beneficiaries in the technology design and implementation processes have proven to be critical factors to our sustained impact.”

The initiative is part of a new £5million mine clearing program by the UK’s department for international development over three years.

Read more:



“Creating Good Work” Features 7 Skoll Awardees

April 5, 2013 by

We want to tell you about a new book, “Creating Good Work: The World’s Leading Social Entrepreneurs Show How to Build a Healthy Economy,” by Ron Schultz. Experts in the field of social entrepreneurship share their experience, knowledge and wisdom. They give examples of how they overcame barriers to create a lasting impact on the world.

Skoll Awardees who contributed to the book include Karen Tse, Jim Fruchterman, Bart Weetjens, Dorothy Stoneman, Rebecca Onie and Willy Foote. WITNESS, a Skoll Awardee, was represented by WITNESS Senior Communications Manager Coco Chang.

“The lessons contained in this volume are an asset to any social entrepreneur looking for new and innovative ways to have a positive impact and change the world around them, be they at their initial concept phase or a successful venture looking to expand their sphere of influence,” Schultz says.

Learn more about the CGW book, published by Palgrave Macmillian, at


One-Third of Skoll Awardees named to Top 100 NGO list

January 26, 2012 by

The Global Journal,  a new publication aimed at opinion leaders and policy makers in the development sector, has just put out its Top 100 Best NGOs in the World, and 31 of them are Skoll Awardees. They started with a list of 1,000, then narrowed it down to 400, then these. Read about their criteria and metrics. Congratulations to all:

Partners in Health, Barefoot College, Water for People, Pratham, APOPO, Ceres, Digital Divide Data, Teach for America, Landesa, Root Capital, Saude Crianca, Population and Community Development Association, Gaias Amizonas, Tostan, Escuela Nueva, Aflatoun, Gram Vikas, Search for Common Ground, Center for Digital Inclusion, One Acre Fund, Kickstart, One World Health (founder Victoria Hale, is a 2005 Skoll social entrepreneur), Room to Read, Free the Children, IDE-India, Friends International, ICTJ, Witness, International Bridges to Justice, Injaz Al-Arab, and Global Footprint Network.


TrustLaw Releases Multimedia Coverage of the Skoll World Forum in Oxford: 11 thought leaders interviewed

April 20, 2011 by

TrustLaw, a service of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has published a series of 11 interviews on, “What is the Shape of Social Entrepreneurship in 2011,” from the 2011 Skoll World Forum.

“Even in the place where men and women so effectively called together called for change, we have seen a reversal of fortune… as people inthe region come to realize that more open, participatory societies will actually lead to greater stability, greater security and peace, if you will, within our society, they will also realize that… if women are not fully engaged at all levels in our society we will not acheive the potential that is there.” -Queen Noor of Jordan read more


DIY Foreign Aid: Kristof Names Skoll Friends in NY Times Column

October 21, 2010 by

Social entrepreneurs once again take center stage in The New York Times. In an essay on do-it-yourself foreign aid in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and in a follow up blog post on How to Change The World at, columnist Nicholas Kristof highlights Skoll grantees Kiva, APOPO, Kashf, CAMFED, Afghan Institute for Learning, Tostan, and many other great social entrepreneurs. read more


APOPO and Riders for Health Highlighted in Kristof Column

June 17, 2010 by

In his column in today’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof offers up some gift ideas for Father’s Day far from the traditional tie or tool set noting, “This Father’s Day, a rat is truly the best gift you never knew about.” Of course, Nick is referring to APOPO, headed by Skoll social entrepreneur Bart Weetjens, and the opportunity to sponsor a rat. Riders for Health, headed by social entrepreneurs Andrea and Barry Coleman, is recommended for the Dad who might be into motorcycles. Instead of Dad riding a bike however, a gift to Riders would help health workers in Africa care for people in remote rural villages.  Happy Father’s Day!


HeroRats Debut on BBC Social Entrepreneur Series

March 5, 2010 by

The fourth episode of the BBC World News series on social entrepreneurs features the heroic rats of Apopo, founded by 2009 Skoll social entrepreneur Bart Weetjens.  These HeroRats are trained to detect landmines and tuberculosis using their sense of smell.  The 8-part series, called Alvin’s Guide to Good Business, is looking at social entrepreneurs doing innovative work around the globe.  BBC World News online has an companion article on HeroRats here.   If you are in a market where you receive BBC World News, you can check out the broadcast schedule for the episode here. read more


New BBC World News Series on Social Entrepreneurs

February 11, 2010 by

BBC World News will be launching this weekend an 8-part series on social entrepreneurs around the globe.  Alvin’s Guide to Good Business will follow financial expert Alvin Hall as he visits a different social entrepreneur each week.  He’ll look at business models, impact, and the challenges of scaling.  Featured organizations include Riders for Health, IDE-India, Marine Stewardship Council, Apopo, Partners in Health, Friends International, Camfed and Kiva. The Skoll Foundation partnered with RockhopperTV on the series. read more


NY Times Column Points to Skoll Social Entrepreneurs

April 21, 2009 by

Nick Kristof of the New York Times wrote a column this week about a child he’s sponsored in the Dominican Republic under a a program called Plan USA.  He points out that, whenever he writes on poverty, he gets lots of questions from people about how they can help.  In this column, he mentions (and links to) a series of initiatives of organizations doing good work:

“Some people make small business loans on, or support girls’ education, or buy anti-malaria bed nets, or pay for deworming children, or donate to organizations that battle modern slave traders, or underwrite trained rats that sniff out land mines.”

Half of these references are to Skoll social entrepreneur organizations –, which does online microlending, Camfed, a leader in girls education in Africa, and the HeroRATS of Apopo, which are now also doing tuberculosis detection in addition to land mines.

Nice recognition for these organizations and their work.


New Skoll Award Winners Announced

March 12, 2009 by

We announced today the new 2009 winners of Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship.  The recipients are BioRegional Development Group, EcoPeace – Friends of the Earth Middle East, Fundacion Gaia Amazonas, INJAZ Al-Arab, International Center for Transitional Justice, VisionSpring, and WaterPartners International.   They’ll receive their awards at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford on March 26, along with Apopo and Teach for All, two award-winners from last summer.  There’s a short write-up on each organization’s innovation in the press release.

This is a competitive process and we received some very high quality applications.  Congrats to all the award winners!


Skoll Foundation Extends Investments in Leading Social Entrepreneurs

August 28, 2008 by

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Aug. 26, 2008—The Skoll Foundation today announced additional investments in the inaugural 2005 recipients of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, named two new recipients of the Award, and deepened its commitment to building out a global ecosystem to support social entrepreneurs. These new grants total $19.18 million. The follow-on investment in the 2005 Skoll social entrepreneur class is designed to help these organizations further drive systemic change in the regions in and issues on which they work and achieve sustainability. The new award winners, Teach For All (Teach For America) and Apopo, will each receive three-year grants of $1,015,000 and join the growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 61, who have created innovative, effective solutions for combating social and economic challenges worldwide. The Foundation has also deepened its relationship with the Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator and with Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, reflecting the Foundation’s commitment to supporting the global ecosystem for social entrepreneurs. read more


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