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HARGEISA, Somaliland — An innovative radio drama, pioneered by the international humanitarian charity Mines Advisory Group (MAG), has driven a nearly 300% increase in the number of people in Somaliland registering their previously unregistered guns.
The series focuses on promoting safer gun ownership — in Somalia and Somaliland. It is believed that almost every household owns at least one firearm.
MAG is a landmine clearance and weapons and ammunition management charity headquartered in Manchester, England, and active in 26 countries around the world. Its work includes reducing the risk of small arms and light weapons being misused or reaching the black market.
In 2020, with face-to-face risk education sessions no longer possible during the global pandemic, MAG partnered with the Somaliland Ministry of Interior to launch a new radio drama, with funding from the German Federal Foreign Office.
Entertain and Inform
The program was broadcast on Radio Hargeisa, Somaliland’s national public service radio. Established in 1943 as the first Somali language station, it broadcasts from the Ministry of Information in the capital city of Hargeisa, and also features news bulletins in Amharic, Arabic and English. The station broadcasts on FM to the main cities of Somaliland, and internationally on shortwave.
Designed to entertain and inform while including vital safe gun ownership messages, MAG’s 10-episode “Dallaalimo” drama series reached a potential audience of 800,000 through its radio broadcasts, and a further 600,000 when the episodes were published to Facebook at the end of 2020.
Preliminary reports from the Somaliland Ministry of Interior, shared with MAG, indicate the program’s messages have resulted in an almost 300% increase in the number of men and women registering their previously unregistered weapons.
“MAG is delighted to see the positive impact of the ‘Dallaalimo’ radio series on efforts to reduce weapons-related accidents and stem the proliferation of small arms,” said Omar Mohammed, MAG’s Country director in Somaliland.
“Wars have killed at least 50,000 people in Somalia/Somaliland since 1991 — insecurity and a thriving trade in illicit weapons have only exacerbated the problem. With the global pandemic enforcing physical restrictions on our ability to promote safer gun ownership face-to-face, MAG is embracing the power of radio to reach vast communities and help save lives.”
The Somaliland Ministry of Interior also welcomed the program. “MAG’s educational awareness on small arms and light weapons is the first of its kind in Somaliland,” said Mohamed Ahmed, director of Security. “It has reached huge audiences of small arms owners and household breadwinners. The registration of guns and pistols has increased since the project started its media campaign,” he said.
“I was amazed by questions and inquiries raised by the citizens when I attended two call-in radio shows as a guest speaker,” Ahmed added. “As a result of the educational awareness campaign, many men and women are now openly talking about the risks of small weapons.”