UNDP is responsible for the implementation of these initiatives and all OCWAR-T project activities on the reduction of SALW in Sierra Leone. The destruction of small arms and light weapons initiative under the umbrella of the OCWAR-T project contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 that seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
The project employs the SDG and the UNDP programming principle to ‘Leave No One Behind’ to ensure all actors in the society equitably benefit from the project implemented on contextualized quality standards.
The weapons for development initiative came out of a joint lesson learnt and best practices assessment of partner organizations, that take into consideration the views and assessment of local communities and government security agencies, as a means to curtail local craft production of weapons in border communities. While the request for communities to surrender their weapons in order to receive development dividends such as community wells or motorbikes is an idea agreed upon by all project partners, based on grassroot assessments, the decision on the type of development dividend initiatives communities are to receive directly came from the communities themselves. In this case, Falaba and Sulima communities specifically requested for motorcycles.
The motorcycles are currently in use as means of transportation for agricultural produce and sometimes community members who for example fall sick and need to get to the health centers which may be quite a distance away given the remoteness of these areas have reportedly benefited for the initiative. This has helped Falaba and Sulima to trade off their local produce especially perishable products quickly and easily, without much constraints. According to community members, this is helping them to generate income faster than producing local weapons for hunting. Many communities in the south-east of the country are getting encouraged to surrender their weapons for similar development initiatives, in a bid to stop the manufacturing of local guns.
Overall, the project is helping to foster peace, community development and social cohesion in these border communities with ripple effects across the country. The OCWAR-T project is an ECOWAS project, co-funded by the EU and the GFFO, Coordinated by GIZ and implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons.