The signing follows the Federal Council's approval of the framework agreement with IGAD on 6 June 2014. The partnership enables Switzerland to engage in political dialogue with IGAD and its member states in the Horn of Africa, and to increase the effectiveness of Swiss activities in the region in such sectors as food security.
More than 50 million people live in the drylands of the Horn of Africa, where recurrent drought over the past decades has made it synonymous with chronic food shortage.
Not only natural disasters threaten the people's food security. The habitats of the herders, who move around with their herds according to the season to make the most of the pastures and water points available, are being severely restricted. Infrastructure, large-scale farming and unclear land rights often cause violent conflict over the remaining pasture land. In this critical area of land rights, Switzerland and IGAD are planning to work closely together – particularly in the implementation of the guidelines on land reforms that were adopted by the African Union.
IGAD, whose eight members are countries in the Horn of Africa, is taking on an increasingly significant role for stability and development in the region where cross-border and coordinated cooperation is an important factor in defusing tensions and increasing security for the people.
In response to the most recent disastrous drought, IGAD member states agreed on a strategy of emergency and development measures aimed at strengthening the people's resilience. These measures are intended to ensure that future droughts do not turn into famine situations. Switzerland also initiates and supports projects concerned with securing access to pasture land, land use planning, sustainable land and water management, as well as professional training and access to markets to improve food security in the region.
In line with the Federal Council's 2013-2016 Horn of Africa strategy, Switzerland seeks to address the long-term causes of conflict and poverty which create such a fragile situation in the region, and thus promotes conflict transformation and regional integration. Switzerland is active in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan.
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