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.


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.