Danish Demining Group

Scandinavian design – a question of security

31.07.12

The Danish Demining Group (DDG) under the Danish Refugee Council and a Norwegian industrial designer have joined forces in a unique project to develop a gun lock and effectively reduce the huge number of gun-related accidents in Somalia.

More than 70% of homes in Somalia have at least one weapon. The most common model is AK47 machine gun which is cheap and easy to get hold of. Every year 35,000 people are victims of shooting incidents in the country and DDG's studies also show that 70% or 23,000 of them happen due to accidents.

"DDG works to improve the security situation in Somalia - the control of small firearms is a very important element in this work. We obviously cannot remove private firearms from the Somali community, but we can teach the local population about handling and safety, install weapons cabinets and through cooperation with the Norwegian designer Sylvia Holthen, we can now introduce a new locally produced gunlock, "says Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen, Head of DDG.

Evaluations of DDG's local safety projects show that 74% of local residents are experiencing an improved security situation and that 70% experienced a reduced risk of accidents caused by private firearms.

"The gunlock is effective because it allows local people to keep their weapons, but also provides a safeguard against accidents. Weapons are an obvious target for criminals in an unstable region like Somalia, but the gunlock ensures that you can now prevent the theft of weapons even if you leave them at home - this means fewer weapons in the streets. At the same time, it ensures that curious children or young people are not injured in their home, "says Stuhr Rasmus Jakobsen.

The Norwegian designer Sylvia Holthen developed a prototype of the gunlock, and in light of the initial success with the project DDG decided to intensify the cooperation with Sylvia. The aim was to develop a cheaper and simpler model that could be produced from local materials and local labor. Sylvia Holthen has visited the Somali state of Somaliland, to research and implement the project and provide training and advice for local workshops.

"We needed a gunlock that was quick and cheap to produce - but equally important we needed to ensure local jobs, and thereby the feeling of ownership of the gunlock itself in the local community. It's definitely a project we want to expand, and field studies are already underway in Sudan, "says Stuhr Rasmus Jakobsen.

 

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