In Mauritania, the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) program is helping the Mauritanian Army to safely destroy its excess and obsolete stockpiled ammunition. This May, U.S. implementing partner Mines Advisory Group (MAG) assisted the Mauritanian Army to destroy 30 metric tons of obsolete stockpiled ammunition in Zouerate. Some of the stored ammunition was in poor condition or had exceeded its safe storage life, so it was deemed essential to destroy to reduce the risk of an unplanned explosion in a populated area that could harm civilians and damage critical infrastructure. This project is part of a larger U.S.-funded cooperative effort to help Mauritanian security services strengthen their capacity to manage ammunition, reduce their stockpiles of excess and obsolete ammunition, and build new storage capacity for serviceable ammunition.
Zouerate is a city located in northern Mauritania with an approximate population of 44,650. Most of Mauritania is in the Sahara Desert with remote areas that can be used for the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) into the Sahel region and beyond. U.S. investment in CWD has helped Mauritanian security forces properly manage weapons and ammunition in secure facilities to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. From 1999 to 2021, the United States invested more than $9.1 million in Mauritania to reduce excess SA/LW and conventional munitions stockpiles, (including man-portable air-defense systems or MANPADS), implement best practices for physical security and stockpile management at secure storage facilities, and train personnel in stockpile management.
The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of global CWD efforts, which promote international peace and security by addressing humanitarian hazards from landmines and unexploded ordnance in post-conflict communities. We also partner with nations worldwide to reduce the availability of and access to excess, poorly-secured, or otherwise at-risk SA/LW.
Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $4.2 billion for the safe clearance of landmines and explosive weapons of war as well as the securing and safe disposal of excess SA/LW, including at-risk MANPADS and munitions in more than 100 countries and territories. In 2021, the United States funded CWD efforts in 62 countries with more than $265 million.
About the Author: Emil Deon Nelson is an Assistant Program Manager for Africa in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement at the U.S. Department of State.