East African Community (EAC) experts from national focal points (NFPs) on small arms and light weapons (SALWs) have convened in Nairobi, Kenya, to evaluate the impact of the six-year old small arms project which winds up this year.
The project was initiated by the EAC secretariat in collaboration with the German International Development Agency (GIZ) to stem the proliferation of small arms, which is considered among key sources of crime and insecurity in the East African countries.
The project focused on marking of arms, raising awareness on the dangers of small arms and capacity building on stockpile management, including their marking registration and storage.
Other areas were harmonization of SALWs laws, national planning process and gender mainstreaming, enhancing regional civil society organizations (CSOs) partnership and training in arms tracing.
The evaluation is being carried out with the assistance of GIZ external consultants.
Chairman of the meeting David Kimaiyo lauded the EAC secretariat and GIZ for initiating the SALWs project.
‘’The SALWs project has had a very positive impact on controlling the proliferation of arms,’’ Kimaiyo, who is also director of the Kenya National Focal Point of SALWs, stated in his opening remarks.
Leonard Onyonyi, EAC Peace and Security expert, said the objective of the review was to assess the achievements and challenges of the SALWs project.
‘’This comprehensive appraisal will help the EAC countries and development pPartners to come up with a clear assessment of the SALWs project,’’ he said in his brief opening statement on behalf of EAC Deputy Secretary General in Charge of Political Federation, Dr Julius Rotich.
The meeting paid tribute to former EAC Deputy Secretary General Beatrice Kiraso for her impressive performance during her six-year stay at the political federation docket and for her relentless support for the SALWs project.
Kiraso stepped down last month after completing her non-renewable second three-year mandate at the EAC.
The EAC Strategy for Peace and Security enhances the spirit of cooperation in regional peace and security, which brings into reality the collective responsibility in provision of security by the Partner States.
It covers collaboration on cross-border crimes, auto theft, drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and other crimes.
The meeting will be followed by a meeting of EAC Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) experts.
The meeting has been convened pursuant to the EAC calendar of activities from January-June 2012.
The ATT meeting also includes NFP heads.
It will also strategize and reach a common position ahead of the UN Conference on Arms Treaty in New York in July, this year.