The supply and demand of these small arms have long been felt throughout Kenyan society. Pastoralist communities with relatively little police presence and numerous challenges such as conflict over grazing and water access for their cattle are greatly affected. This is especially so for communities in the North Eastern, Upper Eastern, and North Rift areas, which are believed to suffer excessively from high levels of illicit small arms and insecurity (Muchai, 2005). These arms find their way to other parts of the country especially the urban centres like Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu which have also suffered from the illicit trade in small arms. When illegal guns are viewed as a market phenomenon, trafficking and other illegal acquisition activities represent the supply side of the market. Supply of illicit arms is dictated by demand for the arms. For instance, criminals’ intent and a desire for self-protection primarily drive the demand side and therefore supply of arms.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO PROLIFERATION OF ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS
Unemployment and Poverty
Unemployment has led to poverty which is the main cause of most violent crime in the Kenya today because of tough economic times which have drawn individuals to engage in various activities just to get cash to meet the basic necessities. Poverty increases the opportunity cost for the young people with less access to socially constructive activities to engage in crime. Moreover, this unfortunate group of people spends time idling and loitering in streets exposing themselves to risks of being introduced to criminal activities such as robbery. Many children are abandon by their parents in the streets of big cities in Kenya due to inability to bring them up. They are recruited by the gangsters to commit crimes as they have no source of income, which makes them unable to access basic amenities like quality healthcare, education and nutrition. Therefore, such individuals are compelled to live in poor conditions and the only option is to turn to illicit firearms and weapons to rob people through robbery with violence (Sanna, 2012).
The dramatic growth and expansion of Nairobi has brought with it a host of inherent social, economic, governance as well as environmental challenges that range from chronic insecurity, economic deprivation as evidenced by high levels of unemployment, burgeoning unplanned inner-city settlements commonly known slums, in which over 70% of the City’s population live (Hiiraan, 2012). Of all the above challenges, ubiquitous insecurity, which is characterized by worsening incidences of violence, robbery as well as carjacking remains the single most unsettling concern to its inhabitants (Police statistics, 2011). Due to all this challenges in the city, most young people purchase illicit small arms and light weapons to carry out these activities.
Kenya is ranked 154th worldwide and 35th in Africa in Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (TI, 2010, p. 14). While Kenya recorded an improvement in the 2011 East African Bribery Index as the fourth least corrupt country in East Africa, the Kenya Police was ranked as the most corrupt institution in the country and the fourth most corrupt in East Africa (TIKenya, 2011, pp. 2–3). Corrupt security officers have fuelled the supply of small illicit arms and light weapons in the country. This issue of corruption emerge due to poor payment of salary and allowances to security officers. Further, the anti-corruption laws give corruption suspects chances or opportunities to avoid facing justice before a corruption trial court. So this laws are so loose and it favors the corrupt individual who after their release, they commit the same crime of corruption.
Unskilled security personnel
Kenya’s training strategy is inferior and countering twenty first century crimes is difficult. Advanced in technology has made criminal dealers of illicit firearms and light weapons supply them with ease and not being notice by the police. Police haven’t been trained on information technology crimes such as cybercrimes. Proliferation illicit firearms and light weapons dealers find their markets through the media without being notice by the cyber security officers because they luck skills on information technology. There is poor police-community relation, participation and collaboration which has made the public not reveal any information on illicit firearms dealers. When it appears that law enforcement represents the interests of the communities in which they police, there is general harmony. When police are out of sync with these sentiments, there is discontent and dissention. Police should be trained to keep in mind that different community groups view the police differently and have varying notions of the priorities and objectives of law enforcement and criminal justice (Cordner and Scarborough, 2007).
Weak domestic laws
Kenya’s democratic status has emphasis much on human rights which has limitation on the other hand. It favors and provide safe haven for illicit arms dealers because they are allowed right to bond or bail release. Although we have tough laws, those enforcing and implementing them haven’t done enough. This has been witness by those living communities in northern Kenya and North Rift such as Samburu, Pokot, Turkana, Borana, Rendille, Somali and Gabbra, national law is not adequately enforced by Kenya police in their marginalized regions. The only option these communities have is to arm themselves for personal, communal, clan or larger family defense requirements. They do this as a defensive measure against bandits and other clans as well as to advance their own interests, as they define them (Khadiagala, 2003).
Weak border laws has allowed free movement of people with different motives and intentions into and outside Kenya. According to a study by Kamenju, (2003), Kenyan territory has been used as a conduit for arms destined for neighboring states experiencing violent conflicts. The study notes that arms from these states; Ethiopia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somali, are flowing back into Kenya as a result of porous borders.
EFFECTS OF ILLICIT ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN KENYA
The proliferation of small arms and light weapons is one of the biggest security challenges currently facing Kenya and the East African sub-region (Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya). The trafficking and wide availability of these weapons fuel instability, conflict and pose a threat, not only to security, but also to sustainable development. Widespread proliferation of small arms is contributing to alarming levels of armed crime, in both rural and urban areas, which exacerbates armed cattle rustling and conflicts in pastoralist areas. Armed violence disproportionately affects the poor population and is an important factor undermining development and poverty reduction efforts in Kenya. Chronic insecurity impedes the provision of services to the poor in the vast urban slum areas as well as in Kenya’s under-developed regions.
It has imposed severe implications for economic development and particularly for the achievement of the Vision 2030. The government of Kenya spend millions of money in dealing with insecurity caused by illegal firearms and light weapons own by the civilians. Robbery with violence, theft and trafficking are primary economic impact of illicit firearms and light weapons. According to Ender (2008), countries affected by arms proliferation spend equal amount of tax payer’s money as they spend on health. In Nairobi there is no twenty four hours business because of insecurity. Street robbery is very common and traders have lost goods to gangsters who use small arms and light weapons. This criminal acts have left a trail of death and maiming of victims most of whom for years continue to suffer from psychological trauma resulting from what they underwent during the attacks by the criminal with illicit firearms. It has caused displacement of people and generated refugee camps. This split becomes the cause of significant social division which harms the social fabric and unity negatively. Furthermore, due to the fear of attacks people try to escape from their social and professional responsibilities such that people perform their duties in a state of fear (Adan, 2005).
SOLUTIONS OF PROLIFERATION OF ILLICIT SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN KENYA.
Having seen the effects and dangers this arms proliferation has brought to the society, there are possible solution necessary to be taken by the government and the authorities to thwart the supply and use of this illicit small arms and light weapons in Kenya’s cities like Nairobi. As we have seen above, this criminal activity has led to an increase in operational costs, prices of goods and services, loss of employment and investment uncertainty as investors were fearful of future attacks in prone areas. This has contributed negatively to the economic growth and progress of government agenda like the current big four agenda of Jubilee Administration. The following are the possible solutions to be undertaken by the government of Kenya.
Job creation and youth empowerment.
Unemployment occurs when people are without work and actively seeking work. Kenya is deeply affected with high rate of an unemployment especially among the youth. Kenya is now having the most youthful population in Africa covering close to 60% to 70% of the population (Suleiman, 2011). this menace poses a great threats and induce widespread of insecurity within the generation population. As the