Physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) can be broadly defined as a series of activities that make national stockpiles of weapons and ammunition safe and secure. Over the last decade, PSSM has become a highly requested form of intervention to curb the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and conventional ammunition (CA), as well as to keep communities safe from unintended explosions. Donors have provided substantial funding for PSSM activities to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where we have learned that the impact of PSSM assistance depends a great deal on how actively improvements are maintained.

Maintaining PSSM improvements has to do with influencing human behavior. Organizations supporting national institutions with PSSM are well aware of this but are often overwhelmed by immediate, tangible needs on the ground such as demands for new depots, fencing, or training. While these activities are critical, they will easily go to waste if PSSM is not practiced on a daily basis. This article will discuss three challenges that we have observed and present some critical questions for organizations to consider when providing PSSM assistance.



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