Greater Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan)

Food security, health, migration and protection, good governance as well as state and peace building including conflict transformation are at the centre of the overall Swiss Strategy for the Greater Horn of Africa 2013–2016, translated into four specific Cooperation Strategies. They build on Switzerland’s past achievements in the region and underscore SDC’s commitment to working in fragile contexts.

Map of the region Greater Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan)

The Greater Horn of Africa, as defined by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), comprises eight countries (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda).

Such a complex and big region (around 200 million people on 4.5 million km2, corresponding roughly to Western Europe) can be treated as a single entity only through an overall political approach. To deliver its expertise and maximize its impact with an operational concentration, the Greater Horn of Africa is therefore treated by Switzerland through four specific Cooperation Strategies under the responsibility of several operational structures:

  • Horn of Africa
    Covering with a “whole-of-government” approach: Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Djibouti is addressed through the partnership that Switzerland has established in 2014 with IGAD. Eritrea will be addressed only if humanitarian needs arise and the conditions of engagement are given, which is currently not the case.
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan

To nevertheless ensure a political coherence in the broader region and towards IGAD, a coordination mechanism on the Greater Horn of Africa has been established between all Swiss actors.

Regional “Whole-of-Government” partnership with IGAD

A Framework Agreement between Switzerland and IGAD was signed on the 4 July 2014. It encompasses a series of sub-agreements concerning the entire Greater Horn of Africa region in the fields of:

Peace and Security

FDFA’s Directorate of Political Affairs supports operational IGAD programmes on Conflict Early Warning, Federalism and Mediation.

Engagement in fragile contexts and prevention of violent conflicts


The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) supports and coordinates Swiss activities with the IGAD Programme on Building Regional and National Capacities for Improved Migration Governance.


Drought Resilience

The SDC coordinates Swiss activities and support the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative, translated into operational supports to the FAO-IGAD partnership programme, to the UNECA-IGAD Land Governance Programme, and potentially to the IGAD Programme on Transboundary River Management.


History of cooperation

Switzerland’s long-term commitment

Kenya was a priority country of SDC Development Cooperation from the 70ies until 2006. From 1990–2012, SDC Humanitarian Aid invested in the Horn of Africa region in reconstruction, rehabilitation and conflict transformation, mainly in the emerging nations during and after the civil wars. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Switzerland has in parallel actively supported peace- and state building as well as demining programmes, through FDFA Directorate of Political Affairs and the Federal Department of Defence Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS).

Adapting to changing circumstances

In 2006, SDC Humanitarian Aid closed its office in Asmara (Eritrea) and opened an office in Juba (Sudan, now South Sudan). In 2009, an SDC Humanitarian Regional Programme Office Horn of Africa was (re-)established in Nairobi (Kenya), in order to coordinate the humanitarian response in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti with an annual budget ranging between CHF 14 to 20 million. In 2010, a humanitarian antenna of the Regional Office opened in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).

The year 2011 is marked with major changes for SDC Humanitarian Aid:

  • On 9 July 2011, the partition of Sudan into two states was approved by the South Sudanese people: SDC Humanitarian Aid doubled the funds which until then it had earmarked for the single State of Sudan, and reinforced its office in Juba by a programme office in Aweil (Northern Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan), devoted to water and sanitation projects.
  • Also in July 2011, Global interventions related to food security and water were added and are followed-up since then from SDC Programme Office in Addis Ababa;
  • In August 2011, the Swiss Federal Council granted an additional CHF 20 million to the Humanitarian Aid to overcome the effects of the wide-spread drought and famine for Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, bringing the total budget of SDC Humanitarian Regional Programme Office Horn of Africa to CHF 35 million.

It is through the current “whole-of-government” Swiss Strategy for the Greater Horn of Africa 2013–2016, translated into the four Cooperation Strategies mentioned above that Switzerland not only brings those past efforts together, but also adds development cooperation instruments in the Horn of Africa region, and in a limited way in South Sudan.


Current projects

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Kakuma: Developing vocational skills in a refugee camp

a man repairing a computer in his workshop, watched by six visitors.

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2019

The SDC’s Skills for Life pilot project teaches vocational skills to refugees and residents of Kakuma, to enable them to work and earn a living. More than 580 young people were trained in phase one of this project, which was launched in 2013. Phase two began in summer 2016.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Forced migration (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)
Vocational training and skills development
Protection and access
Material relief assistance and services
Vocational training
Human rights

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2019

CHF 2'050'000

Healthy people and animals in Ethiopia thanks to an interdisciplinary project: Jigjiga University One Health Initiative

African farmer ploughing a field with an ox.

01.01.2015 - 30.09.2020

Nomadic pastoralist communities, which constitute one tenth of Ethiopia’s population, have little access to health services. In the Jigjiga University One Health Initiative, the SDC is helping to establish local healthcare services by supporting an interdisciplinary centre of excellence at Jigjiga University in eastern Ethiopia.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Health system strengthening
Primary health care
Health policy and administrative management
Basic health care

01.01.2015 - 30.09.2020

CHF 2'100'000

State reform in Somalia

Sitting at his desk, a Hargeisa municipal employee enters paid bill details into a computer system.

01.08.2013 - 31.12.2017

The SDC is supporting a decentralisation project in Somalia. The aim is to promote peace and development by strengthening the capacity of local authorities to meet the needs of the population. The project has already produced some encouraging results.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Conflict prevention and transformation
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Public financial management (including activities against corruption)
Civilian peace-building and conflict resolution
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Public finance management
Civilian peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution

01.08.2013 - 31.12.2017

CHF 9'000'000

Resilience for Pastoralist Communities in Northern Kenya

01.09.2020 - 31.07.2025

Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environ-ments of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). In order to support pastoralists, this programme contributes to strengthening public and private institutions in the water and livestock sectors, putting policy frameworks in place to ensure efficient county-wide and cross-border water and rangeland management systems, and to increase access to water and pasture.

MdM-France: Integrating Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Bosaso Basic Health Care System

01.04.2019 - 31.12.2021

This 6-year programme aims at improving health service delivery in Bosaso town (Puntland, Somalia) by integrating quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services into primary health care delivery packages. This intervention will also contribute to strengthen the emerging public health system by building the capacities of the Bosaso-based Ministry of Health and local health providers to sustain, in the long term, access to quality health services for the most vulnerable, especially women.

Strengthening livestock sector in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Counties of Kenya

01.05.2018 - 30.04.2024

Around 60% of the population in the arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Eastern Kenya Counties live in abject poverty and are almost entirely dependent on livestock production for their livelihoods in an environment that is characterized by droughts and resource based conflicts. This programme will support these Counties to enhance livestock production by strengthening key factors such as fodder production, animal health, etc. and by strengthening the institutions to more effectively deliver relevant services and reduce conflicts. 

Skills for Employment Tanzania – SET

01.04.2018 - 31.12.2029

This multi-layered program aims at enhancing prospects of gainful youth (self-) employment through a contribution to improved access to agricultural skills, and cross sectorial support to relevance and quality of Vocational Skills Development (VSD) by fostering existing institutions. Focus is placed on the coordination of skills providers and market players and on innovative solutions. The aim is to generate wide impact in order to significantly address the needs in VSD, particularly those of women.

Eritrea Vocational Skills Training

01.08.2017 - 31.07.2022

The Humanitarian Aid of SDC has operated a program office in Asmara up to 2006. Due to implementation difficulties, it was decided at that time to close the office. Eritrea came again into the attention of the Swiss Government in relation with the high number of Eritrean asylum seekers. Most of them are young men. Domestic politics called to address this issue and the Federal Council decided to enhance its investment in young Eritreans in order to improve their life perspectives in their home country. Eritrea is a low-income country ranking generally at the bottom end of international development lists, it is ruled by the Peoples’ front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). The Government slogan of “self-reliance” is linked to the country’s impression of being left alone by the international community (sanction regime in relation to Somalia). Controversial discussions about the Eritrean track record in human rights have influenced the relations between Eritrea and other countries. The main point of concern is the National Service, an institution that manages most of the services provided to the Eritrean population. Its sphere of influence goes beyond the military domain. Eritrea is in a “no war, no peace” situation with the neighboring Ethiopia. Strategic partnerships exist between Eritrea and China (natural resources and infrastructure) and Saudi Arabia (air and war vessel base in Eritrea for the Yemen conflict). Many Eritreans flee the country because they see no real life perspectives. Remittances are extremely important for the survival of the Eritrean population. With its future involvement, SDC aims at making a contribution to improve life perspectives of young Eritreans by training teachers in the field of vocational skills training and by enhancing the access of students to qualified TVET-institutions. The context is quite unique and a step by step approach, starting with a pilot phase of two years is justified.

Community Health Provision in Somalia

01.06.2017 - 30.06.2020

This intervention contributes to improve access of the Somali population to quality, affordable and equitable health services in South Central Somalia and Puntland. In a context of still very low health services coverage, high level of vulnerabilities and protracted conflict, this intervention will ensure the delivery of essential primarily health care services, focusing on women and children, while at the same time contributing to progressively build the health system at both district and regional levels.

Contribution to government and development partners platforms

15.04.2017 - 14.04.2021

The Development Assistance Group (DAG) and Rural Economic Development & Food Security (RED-FS) platforms are two development policy fora between Development Partners (DPs) and the Government of Ethiopia (GoE). They play a critical role in the implementation, coordination and monitoring GoE’s 2nd Growth & Transformation Plan [1] (GTPII). This contribution will allow Switzerland to actively participate in discussions and to link its programmes to existing policy processes for upscaling and policy influencing.


[1] 5-year development plan (2015/16–2019/20) of GoE, with macroeconomic targets following GTPI (2010/11 – 2014/15.

SCOPE - Sustaining a Culture of Peace

01.03.2017 - 31.12.2025

Increasing tensions based on political, religious, socio-economic and natural resource-based conflicts indicate that Tanzania’s culture of peace needs strengthening. SDC will therefore promote the use of peaceful means to prevent and deal with conflicts. It will support the Government to establish a conflict early warning and response system, and state and non-state actors to increase public space to address conflictual topics, in particular for women and marginalized.

Federal Government of Somalia and UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment

20.10.2016 - 30.06.2018

The youth employment programme for Somalia aims to create employment opportunities for youth between 15 and 24 years through vocational education, enterprise training, and the rehabilitation of infrastructure in high potential sectors of the economy. The programme is embedded in a state building and stabilization perspective and recognizes that Somali youth are essential for the recovery and growth of Somalia, but could also be a destabilizing force if ignored.

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