Kenya is in the midst of a three-month long explosives detection and disposal operation that aims to not only dispose of unexploded ordnance but educate people about the dangers of unexploded weaponry. Five schoolchildren were killed earlier this month after stumbling across an unexploded mortar.
Operation Kinga Maisha began on May 2 at Ole Maroroi area in Ngong will end its activities by the end of July, according to the Kenyan Ministry of Defence. The death of five children near Kimuka Primary School has given impetus to the operation.
Commander of the Engineers Brigade, Brigadier George Owino, said last week that the operation was so far yielding positive results. He commented that apart from the explosives retrieved by the armed forces, the locals had come forward and identified other explosives that they had in their possession.
The operation is being conducted in three concurrent phases. Battle Area Clearance (BAC) personnel search for unexploded ordnance (as of last week three live explosive devices had been recovered), explosive ordnance personnel store recovered explosives and the Risk Education Team (RET) educate locals through meetings in churches, schools, markets and other public places.
Owino emphasised the importance of collaboration between the military and the media for the success of the operation. According to the Kenyan Ministry of Defence, the project is aimed at ensuring that explosives are thoroughly cleared and that the public is aware of the dangers of handling them and are given proper education on management of live explosives.
“There are so many of these things here, some of our people may be keeping them under their beds waiting to sell to scrap metal dealers,” chairman of Kajiado County Council, Taraiya ole Kores, told the Kenyan Daily Nation. A nearby shooting range contains live ammunition left over from training by the General Service Unit, the Administration Police and the Army. The area was also used as the training ground for British soldiers before independence.
Kenyan explosive ordnance disposal personnel increased their knowledge and practice while training with U.S. sailors earlier this month, according to the US Africa Command.
U.S. sailors assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) partnered with four Kenyan Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) instructors and more than 30 trainees during a Humanitarian Mine Action Program at the Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS) in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 18.
The three-week programme allowed service members the opportunity to share best practices on safely removing land mines and explosives.
“It was a productive three weeks with the Kenyan EOD and combat engineers,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Jon Maurus, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 (EODMU-11) officer in charge assigned to CJTF-HOA. “We had a great opportunity to engage our partners here and share from vast experiences on both sides, with a never-ending goal of strengthening relationships and building trust between our governments.”
“The course was very good. It has really prepared us to identify munitions for disposal,” said Kenyan Army Major Edwin Teka.
Kenyan soldiers put their munitions disposal skills to the test in the final week of the program during a controlled detonation at the Kenyan Ministry of Defense (KMOD) Stony-Athi Range outside Nairobi.
“The detonation allowed the Kenyan instructors to tie everything together that the students had learned over the previous two weeks into an actual real-life demolition operation,” said Maurus. “It was a great success in that the students finally got to see their hard work in action.”