The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is to launch its small arms control program in Bamako, the capital of Mali, on Tuesday.
According to a statement issued by the ECOWAS headquarters in the Nigerian capital Abuja, the program is "targeted at reinforcing efforts to reduce the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in West Africa."
The program is a five-year transitional capacity-building program that would initially implement a three-year work plan for which donors had pledged 12 million U.S. dollars.
The statement said the money from the donors "will be dedicated to support for member states' efforts against the proliferation of SALW, as well as the newly established ECOWAS small arms unit."
Major donors include ECOWAS, the UNDP bureau for crisis prevention and recovery, European Union, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands and Norway.
According to ECOWAS Executive Secretary Mohammed Ibn Chambas, more than 10 million SALW are in circulation in West Africa, and the menace remains a major headache for the crisis-ridden region.