Programmes » ALTERNATIVE LIVELIHOODS AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
Mobilisation of Local Manufacturers of Arms and Blacksmiths.
The manufacture of small arms, especially those referred to as ‘locally made pistols’, pose serious threat to security and fuels armed robbery, burglary, rape, conflicts and other violent crimes. It is however an undeniable fact that most blacksmiths who produce these arms also depend on this activity for their livelihood. The legislation on local manufacture as well as arrests by the police to discourage the illegal activity has not yielded much result. It has rather pushed the illegal activity further underground leaving in its wake a kind of sophistication which the Police have not been able to grapple with.
The paradigm shift now, so far as the Commission is concerned, is that all blacksmiths, including the manufacturers of locally made arms or blacksmiths with the potential to produce same, should be identified, mobilised and sensitised on the dangers involved in their illegal activity. There should be dialogue with them and assistance provided for their skills to be redeveloped or diverted to engage in economically viable alternative livelihood ventures. These could include the production of socially beneficial items such as ploughs and pruners for farmers, auto parts for motor cycles, bicycles and vehicles, handcuffs for the Police, screens and beds for hospital, etc.
It is against this background that over the past years the National Commission on Small Arms has been engaging local manufacturers of arms and blacksmiths to organise them into identifiable groups on regional basis for registration, dialogue and sensitisation on the dangers involved in the production and proliferation of locally made arms, among other things. This exercise is also aimed at offering the Commission the opportunity to explore areas of assistance to them, as well as the possibility of having them on a national register as stipulated by the ECOWAS Convention on SALW. The Commission currently has been able to mobilise some blacksmiths in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta, Central, Western, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
The NACSA has developed an alternative livelihood scheme for artisans in the Ashanti and Volta regions. This will be implemented on a pilot basis and replicated in due course in other regions or areas that are noted for the manufacture of locally produced guns. Also, the Commission with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Foundation) organised a Stakeholders Conference in November 2011 to discuss the local manufacture problem and opportunities for sustainable alternative livelihood programmes for blacksmiths. The aim is to assist blacksmiths/manufacturers to redevelop/redirect their skills and expertise into alternative economically beneficial ventures that will have ready market in order to wean them off the production of small arms.
· To identify, register and ascertain the number of blacksmiths and local gun manufacturers in every region by the end of 2015;
· To sensitise them on the dangers involved in the production and proliferation of locally made arms;
· To dialogue with them on the need to redevelop and divert their skills to more socially beneficial products;
· To explore opportunities for a ready market for their legal products
· To source for funding for Alternative livelihood programmes;
· To procure machinery and equipment for the establishment of model workshops in the regions to enhance Alternative livelihood programmes.