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Armed Violence and Guns in East Africa

The 19 nations of East Africa range from the tiny islands of Reunion, Comoros and Mayotte, to conflict-afflicted Somalia, Burundi and Uganda. Although the region has some of the world’s lowest civilian gun possession rates, homicide rates are high.

In a 2004 ranking of civilian firearm possession across 178 nations, six of the 19 East African states rank among the 40 least armed, and all but three (Mozambique, Somalia and Tanzania) sit in the lower half.1 Estimated civilian possession rates range from 0.4, 0.5, and 0.6 guns per 100 people in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Rwanda respectively, to 5.4 in Seychelles, 9.1 in Somalia and 14.7 in Mauritius. Thirteen East African states have an estimated civilian possession rate of 3.1 or fewer guns per 100 population.2

As in many parts of the continent, homicide rates in East Africa are high by global standards. Only five East African states have a homicide rate below 15 per 100,000 population. Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia all have rates over 20. Burundi and Zimbabwe top the regional rates with 35.4 and 32.9 (high estimate) per 100,000 respectively.2

In 2007, the rate of death due directly to armed conflict in Somalia was a high 74.2 per 100,000 population.2

As is common across the continent, nations of East Africa receive significant donor development assistance for armed violence prevention, small arms stockpile management, firearm and ammunition destruction programmes, post conflict disarmament, reconstruction and peace keeping.3

For more detailed figures and gun control laws in each East African country, search Find Gun Policy Facts in the left hand column.

Short References

1.

Karp, Aaron.2006.‘Trickle and Torrent: State stockpiles.’ Small Arms Survey 2006: Unfinished Business.Oxford:Oxford University Press,1 July. (Q7)Full Citation

2.

GDAV.2010.‘Armed Violence Map (AVMAP).’ Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development.Geneva:Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development Secretariat,10 May. (Q1804)Full Citation

3.

UNODA.2018.‘PoA-ISS Country Profiles.’ UN small arms Programme of Action (UNPoA) - Implementation Support System.New York, NY:United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs,23 July. (Q1309)Full Citation