IANSA women in Wajir (Kenya) are celebrating a major victory as the local government has agreed to share information about their small arms inventory and mark over 9,000 weapons. Women have also been invited to join a committee that will lead programmes raising awareness on small arms control. The decision came after 100 pastoralist women submitted a petition and a regional plan on firearms control to the government on 8 April 2010. The plan also lists local arms markets, smuggling routes and arms traffickers. This initiative is being coordinated by IANSA Women's Network member, the Frontier Indigenous Network.
PASTORALIST WOMEN SMALL ARMS CAMPAIGN
The campaign started on 8 April 2010 with women peace builders preparing a regional master plan on small arms. They then held a peaceful procession where they presented a petition signed by a hundred women participants who developed the plan. The petition and master plan were presented to the District Commissioner of Wajir, Mr John Ndambuki. The petition called for support for the regional master plan and collaboration with government support to block small arms proliferation in northern Kenya with weapons that enter from Somalia.
The campaign was organized by Frontier Indigenous Network which is a women led organization in Wajir, Kenya. The organization invited women leaders from various women associations in villages. These women's associations are member of Frontier Indigenous Network. Wajir District is one of five districts located in remote North Eastern Province.
The campaign was aimed at various target groups that included ex-combatants, active combatants, youth, pastoralist women, elders and government officials. The campaign was led by women because of past experience of stopping clan clashes between the indigenous Sakuye and other pastoralist communities.
WHAT DOES THE REGIONAL PLAN CONTAIN?
The regional master plan that was drawn by pastoralist women contains details of two arms markets - Dhobley and Darusalam - located in Kenya/Somalia. The conduits and routes used to smuggle arms are through villages located in Kenya/Somalia border. Ten routes that are used in smuggling were listed. The players/couriers in the arms dealing in northern Kenya were mentioned and their operating bases in the border towns were mentioned. Thirty known arms dealers/actors were mentioned.
Community driven small arms control was reflected in the master plan and the government was challenged to work with the local communities in addressing the arms routes, and players/couriers, amongst others.
Small arm marking was another key issue in the master plan where the government was asked to mark recovered or surrendered arms in their possession/store so that they cannot end up in the hands of combatants in the conflict zones. Also the government was urged to open details of its inventory and store, and share with organizations and public the number of small arms they have.
SUCCESS OF THE CAMPAIGN
After the campaign the government held a meeting with women campaigners and a partnership was forged to address the proliferation of small arms. A committee between the government and the women peace builders was formed with aim of spearheading the community driven programme on small arms and small arms marking. The government went an extra mile by opening up the arms store, and small arms marking took place.
MARKED SMALL ARMS AND NUMBER
G-3 - 1,800
AK-47 - 3,000
Pistols – 800
M-16 - 2,592
American Carbine – 900
F-N Rifles - 300