The Swiss Ambassador to Ethiopia, Dominik Langenbacher, invited all the Swiss development players to the first Swiss Development day, offering a a great opportunity to network, look for synergies and increase cooperation.
Many NGO involved in education and children were present, but also many NGOs invovled with natural resource management. Also representative from the National Centre of Competence in Research : North-South http://www.north-south.unibe.ch/content.php/page/id/265 and University of Bern were present.
Thanks to the Ambassador and probably many other people, and maybe also thanks to the drought and the media sharing terrible images from this part of the world, the Horn of Africa is getting on the top of the Swiss political agenda. Next to the emergency humanitarian support from Switzerland to the region, a proposal to the Swiss parliament to be voted in August 2012 is in preparation. This proposal foresees to make the Horn of Africa a program area. This implies that the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), would be running significant projects in this area.
The major focus proposed for the area is agriculture and livelihoods, followed by health and governance. Also two "multilateral topics" for which Switzerland would like to contribute to are : a water initiative and food security. This sounds very promising as good natural resource management and agriculture are nowadays seen as the most contributing to better livelihoods in Ethiopia.
Even if Horn of Africa would not become a program area there is scope for better cooperation between the players, also between the scientific players. The Embassy already announced a meeting with all the scientific players! I hope that this day was the beginning of a better cooperation of the CGIAR (ILRI/IWMI and others) with the Swiss Research and Swiss Development cooperation.