Local Community Safety volunteers help prevent armed clashes and accidents in Somaliland

Somalilanders improve their own local safety and security with support from DDG training. A legacy of civil war has left Somaliland (a break-away republic in northern Somalia)

Somalilanders improve their own local safety and security with support from DDG training

By: Jens Bjerg Sand

A legacy of civil war has left Somaliland (a break-away republic in northern Somalia) contaminated with landmines, unexploded ordnance and firearms. More than 7 out of 10 household’s posses a firearm and one in ten households possess some form of explosive remnant of war. The ready availability of weapons means that everyday conflicts can quickly escalate into armed confrontations if they are not managed carefully. Limited knowledge of weapons safety, unsafe storage and household possession of explosives lead to accidents. DDG’s Community Safety programs improve local safety and security by training village volunteers as trainers in mine risk education and firearms safety. The volunteers then teach this on to their fellow villagers. DDG’s Community Safety Staff additionally provide training to community members in anger management and conflict resolution techniques in order to assist them in reducing the escalation of disputes into violent clashes. This training along with the DDG provided Gun locks (to physically secure the weapon) reduce the risk of being exposed to accidents and incidents.

On the 4th of march 2014 in Burao District - Togdheer region of Somaliland, DDG celebrated that 80 volunteers have trained a total of 3,751 villagers in Mine risk education and 5,536 in Firearms safety in their respective villages. Work on a similar scale was also carried out in Ainabo and Baligubadle Districts during the same period. The districts’ school teachers were also trained by DDG so they could educate children about landmine and weapons hazards.

The governor of the Tog-dheer region where Burao is located; Mohamed Muuse Diiriye, is very happy with the positive outcome of DDG’s work in his region. “ We need to increase the awareness, [make people] not to use guns” says the governor “we need you to educate all our districts”.

“The mix of conflict resolution training, safe weapons training and the safe storage-devices that DDG has provided, has significantly reduced the number of [firearms] accidents here” says Safia Hassan Ibrahim, a 45 years old volunteer women from Unuunley village near Burao. She continues: “where people used to be fast to pick up and use their guns when agitated, the mix of firearms safety training, gun-locks and anger management, now means the people are handling their conflicts peacefully and without using violence”.

Safia was trained by DDG, and has subsequently voluntarily trained 60 people from her village. She says that in the beginning people were suspicious that DDG would take their guns away, but when people realized how useful the gun locks were in preventing thefts, misuse and accidents of their weapons, they became very enthusiastic in using them. “The combination of DDG trainings has significantly reduced the times anger lead to the use of weapons in our village”

DDG’s mission is to recreate a safe environment where people can live without the threat of landmines, explosive remnants of war and small arms and light weapons. DDG’s Community Safety program has operated in Somaliland since 2008 with the goal of improving the safety and security for the ordinary people on the ground.

In 2013, DDG trained 420 community volunteers and schoolteachers in Somaliland who then trained 20,398 and 26,786 of their fellow community members and students in Mine risk education and Firearms safety respectively.

“In DDG we are very grateful that so many villagers feel that the training and the gun locks we have provided has been useful in improving the safety of their villages. The communities is of the impression that DDG’s effort has significantly decreased the number of firearms and violent incidents in their communities” Says Mustafe Ahmed, Acting DDG Community Safety team leader.