Cross-Border Collaboration Programme Western Ethiopia/ Eastern Sudan

Project description

Title: Cross-Border Collaboration Programme in Western Ethiopia and Eastern Sudan
Commissioned by: European Union, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Country: Ethiopia and Sudan
Lead executing agency: Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
Overall term: 2018 to 2021


Food insecurity and violent conflicts are major challenges for the population in the Horn of Africa, especially in border regions. Basic social infrastructure is often lacking. Limited employment opportunities and food shortages exacerbate the situation. Trade, which has expanded as a result of strong historical links between populations on both sides of the border, provides a key opportunity for economic development. Trade and cross-border collaboration have the potential to achieve both national as well as regional development goals.

Over 1.6 million people live in the predominantly rural border area between Benishangul-Gumuz in western Ethiopia and Blue Nile State in eastern Sudan. The influx of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons has increased the pressure on local resources such as land and water. It has also fuelled tensions and sometimes violent conflicts within the communities. There is an urgent requirement to develop forward-looking solutions to ensure stability and continued economic development in the region.


In order to reduce conflicts and improve living conditions, the programme promotes the economic potential of the border region of Benishangul-Gumuz Region and Blue Nile State. This includes supporting communities in order to better survive crop failures and resolve conflicts peacefully. The resistance of the population to instability and emergency situations has been strengthened and economic opportunities, especially for young people and women, have been improved.



On behalf of the Federal Government and the European Union, the programme is implemented by the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa in cooperation with government institutions in Ethiopia and Sudan as well as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The programme supports activities in five areas in cooperation with local partners.

More income by increasing the value of the products
Income diversification is one way of improving the ability of people to cope with challenging situations. In addition to promoting agricultural production, the programme also aims to improve the processing and marketing of fruit, fishery and non-timber products.

Employment opportunities for young people 
In order to be more economically active, young people in the border area require access to vocational training and employment. The programme therefore supports vocational training for young people on both sides of the border. 

Better services through improved basic infrastructure 
Both border regions have one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in their respective countries. A lack of equipment and poor infrastructure, such as the unavailability of running water and electricity, make it difficult for the health facilities to provide health care that fulfils, or complies with, the minimum requirements. The programme supports the local government in renovating selected health centres. It also promotes the use of solar modules and systems and the utilisation of rainwater to stabilise electricity and water supply. Existing water supply systems will be optimised in order to improve the supply for farmers who are engaged in natural pasture farming and/or agriculture in Blue Nile State. 

Creating peace, reducing conflicts 
Increasing tensions in the region underscore the importance of formal and informal peacebuilding structures. The programme hereby supports communities to better respond to and to resolve these conflicts. IGAD's cross-border conflict early warning system (CEWARN) is to be simultaneously strengthened. 

Effective trade across the border
Cross-border trade is mostly informal and illegal trade is widespread. The collaboration initiatives bring together communities and responsible people on both sides of the border to formalise and expand cross-border trade and therefore promote sustainable economic development in the border region. The objective here is to better coordinate trade and employment opportunities and facilitate exchanges.


Due to political developments in Sudan and violent conflicts in Ethiopia, the planned implementation of activities was delayed. The project has now commenced work in the Benishangul-Gumuz region and the Blue Nile State. First results are expected in the coming months.