Cross-Border Collaboration Programme Western Ethiopia/ Eastern Sudan

Project description

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


Food insecurity and violent conflicts characterise the border regions in the Horn of Africa. The population often lacks basic social infrastructure. Limited employment opportunities and frequent food shortages exacerbate the situation. 

Cross-border trade and strong historical ties between the Ethiopians and Sudanese offer significant opportunities for economic development in this region. Trade and cross-border cooperation can help to achieve both national and regional development goals.

More than 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 added to the pressure on local resources. In addition, migratory movements have increased tensions within the communities and even led to violence. 

Comprehensive solutions are needed to ensure stability and continued economic growth in the region.


Living conditions in the border regions of Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia and Blue Nile State, Sudan, in terms of economic development and resilience, peaceful coexistence and cross-border cooperation have improved.



The programme is implemented by the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa on behalf of the German Federal Government and the EU. This is being done in cooperation with government institutions in Ethiopia and Sudan and with the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD). In cooperation with local and regional partners, the programme aims to support activities in the following areas:

Increasing income by adding value to products: The population is better equipped to cope with emergencies if it has diverse sources of income. The programme therefore promotes agricultural production and aims to improve the processing and marketing of horticultural, fish and non-timber products. 

Employment opportunities for young people: To be economically more active, young people need access to vocational training and employment. The programme therefore supports vocational training for young people on both sides of the border. 

Better services through improvements in basic infrastructure: The border region has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in both countries. Lack of equipment and poor infrastructure make it difficult for health centres to provide adequate care. The programme supports local actors in the rehabilitation of selected health centres. 

In addition, existing water supply systems are optimised to improve the water supply for pasture farming in Blue Nile State.

Creating peace, reducing conflict: Rising tensions in the region underline the importance of formal and informal peacebuilding structures. The programme supports the communities in responding better to and in resolving conflicts. At the same time, IGAD’s cross-border Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) is to be strengthened.

Effective trade across the border: Cross-border trade is largely informal and illegal trade is widespread. The programme initiatives bring together communities and decision-makers on both sides of the border. The aim is to formalise and expand cross-border trade and thus promote sustainable economic development in the border region. Cooperation improves coordination, increases trade and employment opportunities, and facilitates exchange.


Political developments in Sudan and violent conflict in Ethiopia have caused delays in the implementation of activities as planned. 

The project has started to implement measures to diversify and increase income. It has also developed training courses at vocational training centres and is conducting training courses for local peace committees and young people.

Initial results are expected in the coming months.