The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965. For nearly 30 years, the country was one of Africa’s few multi-party states and was characterised by democratic participation. The military takeover in 1994 marked the beginning of a period of authoritarian presidential rule, which led to raised concerns about human rights and the country’s economy.1 The democratic change of government in 2016 revealed large stockpiles of explosives and obsolete arms and ammunition across the country.2
The country’s guiding gun control legislation includes the Arms and Ammunition Act of 1924.3 The Gambia’s Ministry of Defence and armed forces; the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC); and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have supported projects on ammunition logistics and national training on physical security and stockpile management.4 In cooperation with ECOWAS and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), national authorities have developed standard operating procedures on ammunition and weapon destruction.5
1 Arnold Hughes and David Perfect, Historical Dictionary of the Gambia, 4th ed. (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2008), http://shcas.shnu.edu.cn/_upload/article/files/ef/50/e9a759614ebc8a2e8ed4d65d787f/63510482-553c-4a2d-8aaf-1d4b49ef00bf.pdf.
2 “Large Caches of Explosives, Obsolete Arms and Ammunition To Be Destroyed in the Gambia,” The Standard, August 6, 2019, https://standard.gm/large-caches-of-explosives-obsolete-arms-and-ammunition-tobe-destroyed-in-the-gambia.
3 Philip Alpers and Miles Lovell, Gambia – Gun Facts, Figures and the Law (GunPolicy.org, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 2022), https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/gambia.
4 “Ammunition Management Activity Platform (A-MAP),” GICHD, 2022, https://a-map.gichd.org.
5 “Large Caches of Explosives,” The Standard.
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Since the Small Arms Survey began collecting data in 1979, no accidental explosions have been reported in the Gambia.
Source: “Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) Database,” Small Arms Survey, updated December 15, 2021, https://smallarmssurvey.org/database/unplanned-explosions-munitions-sites-uems.
Cases of diversion
Insufficient information on cases of diversion in the Gambia.
Insufficient information on the disposal of ammunition in the Gambia.
To further enhance safe and secure ammunition management, the following needs have been identified for the Gambia:
- Development or refinement of standards and procedures on stockpile management, including:
- construction of fit for purpose stockpile storage facilities at key security service designated locations;
- physical security and stockpile management training for stockpile managers and relevant personnel; and
- stockpile facility physical security assessment and risk assessment.
- Provision of arms storage safety racks with secure locking systems and extractors.
- Capacity development for the destruction of surplus stockpiles, including:
- provision of weapons destruction / cutting equipment; and
- training of both commission and security service members in the use of the weapons destruction equipment.
Source: Gambia, National Report on the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) (New York: Permanent Mission of Gambia to the UN, 2022), https://unoda-poa.s3.amazonaws.com/reports/GMB-English-1274-SUBMITTED.pdf.