Thursday, December 12, 2013

Swiss development cooperation in the Horn of Africa : a move towards pastoral areas

On the 5th of December 2013, the second Swiss Development cooperation day took place at the Hilton in Addis Ababa. The objective of the day is to bring together all people related to Switzerland and to some development cooperation in Ethiopia. By chance, I was in Addis and could join this event, and see the evolution since the last development day.

After a quick introduction round, in which I could present Inside Travel, we got some presentations about BurnaNest project (creating a new town near Tana Lake), about civil society (which I could unfortunately not attend) and one on the evolution of the Swiss involvement in the Horn of Africa, by Manuel Flury, the representative of SDC in Addis. 

From the last one, we could learn that the Swiss strategy has changed. Whereas in the past the Ethiopian Highlands and land and water management was the focus, also thanks to the Land and Water resource center, there is today a clear willingness derived from the Swiss development policy to address the challenges of the drier areas of the Horn. 

The “whole government approach” of the Swiss development strategy for the Horn of Africa foresees involvement in 4 sectors, namely i. food security and rural development ii. health sector iii. good governance, state and peace building, conflict transformation iv. migration.

For the first sector, food security and rural development, three goals have been set : 1. Increased adaptive capacities of dry land communities to cope with drought and other incidents that trigger food insecurity (including food assistance as a coping mechanism in case of acute and chronic food insecurity) 2. Good practices of natural resources management (NRM), including water, are increasingly integrated to local, national and regional policies and institutions. 3. Improved need-based services for livestock production, dry land agricultural and local value chains, with focus on vulnerable persons, including women.

As the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss Development cooperation have relatively little experiences in these areas, they will work with a whole range of partners. In this perspective, a strategic partnership with IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) is in the process of being established (a memorandum of understanding is about to be signed). IGAD is composed of all the countries of the Greater Horn of Africa, is supported by several big donors and has the role of addressing divergent political interests among its members. Though its today still weak implementation capacities, IGAD is expected to increase its importance in the region also thanks to its close collaboration with the African Union.  

Research has always been an important component of Swiss involvement in the Horn of Africa. Is there scope for livestock and value chain research? What could the role of ILRI be? 

If you want to brainstorm these questions with Manuel, feel free to contact me.

find the official communication about the meeting here 

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