Decaying weapons and ammunition stores put local populations at risk due to the increased chance of an unplanned explosion. HALO is using its expertise in making weapons safe in partnership with the Malawi security forces to mitigate this threat.
Located in Southern Africa, bordering Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, Malawi is vital to regional security. Malawi’s Defence Force, including the Maritime Services based on Lake Malawi, not only protect the country’s land and water borders—acting as a deterrence to human trafficking, drugs trafficking and other illicit activities—they also conduct regular peacekeeping operations across the region in support of the UN.
However, the infrastructure and capacity of the Malawian forces is currently not sufficient to support their crucial role across the region. Much of their ammunition storage facilities have not been updated since the 1970s. This ageing infrastructure presents a high risk of unplanned detonations, threatening the lives of local families as well as the men and women who work at the military bases. The Small Arms Survey estimates there have been over 30,000 casualties globally between 1979 and 2021 as a result of unplanned explosions at munitions sites. Unsecured weapons and ammunition also run the risk of illicit diversion, falling into the hands of terrorists or criminal gangs.
HALO is working with the Malawi security services to improve the infrastructure and safety of the country’s weapons and ammunition sites by rehabilitating or constructing new storage, safely destroying surplus and obsolete ammunition and providing training to build the knowledge and capacity of Malawi’s forces in safe ammunition lifecycle management.
This includes constructing a new explosive storehouse and armoury at the Maritime Service Headquarters at Monkey Bay on Lake Malawi, rehabilitating six explosive storehouses and building a new armoury at the home of Malawi’s Combat Support Battalion in Mvera. At Cobbe Barracks, the location of the Malawi Defence Force’s main reserve stockpile of ammunition, HALO is working to rehabilitate the storehouse which is in a poor state of repair. The barracks are situated near the centre of town so ensuring the explosives are stored safely is vital.