The Great Lakes Region (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo)

The three countries that make up the region (Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC) are closely interconnected and have shaped each other’s development. Since they gained their independence, this continued interdependence has fed into cross-border conflicts that have caused enormous human suffering and brought state institutions to the brink of collapse. The three countries have signed peace agreements and held elections. However, it has become clear in recent years that these elections have failed to cement peace, and various conflicts endure. Institutions remain fragile and the people of the three countries have yet to reap the benefits of peace.

Map of the region Great Lakes Region (Rwanda, Burundi, DRC)
© FDFA

The Great Lakes region, comprised of Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern DRC, is a priority region for the South Cooperation Department of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This fragility is an obstacle to the strengthening of regional institutions and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Because the prospects of these three countries are intertwined, regional stability is a basic condition for improving the well-being of the local populations. In terms of business and trade, the region is rich in natural resources and offers many untapped opportunities.

Overall goal of the Swiss cooperation strategy for the Great Lakes region

In the Great Lakes region, Switzerland works to further peace and stability, reduce poverty and protect civilians. It helps to strengthen democratic processes, respect for human rights, social cohesion and employment, especially for young people. In line with Switzerland’s diplomatic and political efforts, these activities are aimed at strengthening the capacities of local people to overcome crises and challenges.

Dialogue, fighting impunity and diplomacy

Switzerland is committed to preventing and reducing violence, strengthening democratic institutions and processes, and contributing to the fight against impunity. Switzerland’s activities include facilitation and mediation at the political and civil society levels, support for elections and constitutional reforms, advocacy, monitoring and the protection of human rights. In Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, Switzerland has helped set up a variety of media outlets, especially radio stations, which perform a watchdog function and produce good quality programming, and has also supported the media’s self-regulation efforts.

Fragility and violence impede poverty reduction

Protection of civilians

Switzerland uses all means and channels at its disposal – bilateral, multilateral, the Geneva Conventions – to assure the existence of humanitarian spaces in the region which are necessary to protect vulnerable population groups and restore dignity to those who have been denied it. The protection of civilians includes the monitoring and recording of violations of international humanitarian law, inter-community dialogue, advocacy, training and awareness-raising activities, and reintegration measures. These efforts benefit nearly three million people every year. Switzerland has supported almost 300,000 people through its bilateral projects, including child protection projects, over the past four years.

Employment and economic development

To promote employment and income opportunities, Switzerland is giving priority to high-quality vocational education and training in occupational sectors that are adapted to the needs of the market, both in rural and peri-urban areas. In rural areas, Switzerland is focusing its efforts on the transformation of the building materials sector, which is experiencing rap­id growth and is very labour intensive. Technology introduced by Switzerland in Rwanda and Burundi to improve working conditions and energy efficiency in brickmaking has boosted production to approxi­mately 14 million bricks per year since 2015.

Basic education and vocational skills development

Health and combating violence against women

Ensuring continued access to healthcare services in crisis situations is critically important for public health, eases community tensions and promotes so­cial cohesion. Switzerland is working in this sector for universal healthcare and for primary and secondary health services, particularly mother and child health­care and the fight against child malnutrition. Switzerland is committed to combating violence against women. Swiss-supported efforts have helped some 60,000 women to access survivor support services since 2011, including 12,300 rape survivors who have received medical, psychological and legal sup­port. Thanks to the efforts of over 500 civil society organisations, 54% of the women have been able to reintegrate into their communities.

Gender equality

History of cooperation

Switzerland has been present in the Great Lakes region since the 1960s. For three decades, it carried out development cooperation programmes in the region, but since the 1990s, the primary focus has been on humanitarian aid and peace policy. As part of its 2017–20 strategy, Switzerland combines development aid, humanitarian aid, peace policy and diplomacy in the Great Lakes region. Through the coordinated deployment of these instruments, Switzerland aims to improve the coherence of its efforts, to deal more effectively with the complex political, security, humanitarian and developmental challenges facing the region.

Private Sector Development and financial services

Links

Documents

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 22

Programme Nutrition dans la Région des Grands Lacs

01.12.2021 - 31.12.2025

Les interventions suisses dans le domaine de la nutrition dans la région des Grands Lacs se concentrent sur la lutte contre la malnutrition chronique des enfants de moins de cinq ans et des femmes enceintes et allaitantes. La Phase III du programme nutrition au Rwanda, Burundi et RDC met l’accent sur l’engagement communautaire et le renforcement des institutions nationales. L’appui de la Suisse s’inscrit dans la continuité et promeut la mise à l’échelle de l’approche multisectorielle voulue dans le cadre de la réforme des Nations Unies.


Programme de Relance Economique et réduction de la pauvreté en réponse aux effets du Covid-19 dans la région des Grands Lacs

01.10.2021 - 31.12.2024

Dans les Grands Lacs, la Covid-19 a perturbé les systèmes économiques et sociaux faisant basculer un nombre important de personnes à faible revenu dans la pauvreté. Par ce programme, la Suisse entend contribuer à relancer l’activité des opérateurs économiques locaux, avec un accent particulier sur les micro, petites et moyennes entreprises, en mettant à leur disposition des fonds de garantie. La valeur ajoutée est que la Suisse donnera une attention particulière aux initiatives de commerce transfrontalier régionaux. 


Programme Psychosocial dans la Région des Grands Lacs

01.09.2021 - 31.12.2023

Le programme contribue à l’amélioration du statut des femmes, en particulier celui des survivantes des violences sexuelles et basées sur le genre dans la Région des Grands Lacs (Burundi, Rwanda, RDC). La Suisse a développé une expertise en matière d’approche psychosociale communautaire qui a apporté des changements positifs de comportements et des normes liés au genre. Le focus de cette phase de sortie est l’intégration de cette approche dans les institutions publiques et son soutien par d’autres partenaires. 


Trans-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes Region

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2026

Jointly with the European Union, Switzerland supports a trans-border dialogue for peace in the Great Lakes Region, a program run by Interpeace with local NGOs. This third phase will focus on young women and young men as key drivers for peace and stability in the region and expand its activities to Uganda to further tackle the regionality of conflicts in the region. This will contribute to a better promotion of peace, good governance and concrete consensus-based solutions, in the region. 


Programme d’appui au système de santé du Sud Kivu (PASS Sud-Kivu)

01.05.2021 - 31.12.2023

Cette phase de consolidation des acquis est la dernière du Programme d’Appui au Système de Santé au Sud Kivu. L’appui systémique délocalisé promu par la Suisse vise à renforcer durablement le système de santé dans son ensemble, afin de le rendre plus efficient, résilient et équitable. Grâce à une meilleure gouvernance du système et au renforcement de la qualité des services, l’état de santé de près de 3 millions de personnes sera amélioré.


SYP Safeguard Young People in Eastern African countries

01.03.2021 - 28.02.2024

The SYP program contributes to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people, thus  reducing gender based health inequities. It supports the adoption, domestication and implementation of policies, and strengthens young people’s competencies on and access to SRHR services. The expansion to Tanzania and Rwanda leverages on the  experience in Southern Africa financed by SDC, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s thematic expertise and convening power.


Promotion de l‘emploi et de revenus non agricoles dans la région des Grands Lacs grâce à la production de matériaux de construction respectueux du climat (PROECCO)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

La forte demande en matériel de construction due à l’urbanisation rapide dans la région des Grands Lacs prédispose ce secteur à la création d’emploi et à offrir une perspective économique au grand nombre de jeunes dans la région. L’introduction par le projet PROECCO de briques améliorées, abordables et neutres en CO2 répondant aux normes de résistance et de durabilité a créé une forte demande. Pour la troisième phase, il s’agit d’appuyer le secteur privé à augmenter la production pour satisfaire la demande et d’atteindre les effets escomptés en emplois et en réduction des émissions de CO2


Allocation of SDC Funding to ICRC Operations in 2020

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2020

SDC funding to ICRC operations allows the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to respond proactively and to provide immediate protection and assistance for people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises.

 


Appui aux médias dans la région des Grands Lacs

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

Dans la région des Grands Lacs, les médias jouent un rôle central dans le processus de démocratisation. Cependant, ils sont fragilisés par un contexte politique sensible et des limites d’ordre professionnel et légal. Grace à son engagement à long terme, la Suisse a une grande crédibilité dans ce secteur. Le programme vise à renforcer la cohésion sociale à travers l’amélioration des capacités des médias, à fournir une information de qualité et à offrir une plateforme de dialogue entre acteurs. L’intervention sera faite au travers des partenaires locaux, régionaux et internationaux. 


UN-Gender Rwanda

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2023

In line with SDC’s engagement on fighting sexual and gender-based violence and women’s empowerment in the Great Lakes region, the UN-Gender Program will contribute to the efforts of the Government of Rwanda and the UN Agencies in Rwanda to transform commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment into concrete actions, in particular through awareness raising and capacity building for women and strengthening service providers.


Cross Boarder Trade for Peace

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022

In line with SDC’s strategy to increase the elements of its portfolio fostering cross-border cooperation in the Great Lakes, this project seeks to address the lack of social cohesion and trust amongst border communities in the Great Lakes region especially between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Burundi. Cross Border Trade for Peace is a contribution by SDC to the Mupaka Shamba Letu (The border, our livelihood) project co-financed with SIDA and implemented by International Alert. A particular focus is given to empowering women active in cross-border trade.


Promoting Market Oriented Skills Training in the Great Lakes region (PROMOST)

01.07.2019 - 30.07.2023

PROMOST contributed to increased employment and income generation in the Great Lakes region by providing access and enhancing quality of vocational training. Building on the achievements of the previous two phases, the third phase will focus on the sustainability of the interventions, on the labor market insertion of graduates and on the institutionalization of short-term training and apprentice-ships, thus permitting the phasing-out of Swiss contributions and the continuous increasing of national and regional commitments to professional skills education, especially in Rwanda.

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