Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: none

European Commission


Brussels, 20 July 2012

EU development cooperation in the Horn of Africa

Overview of situation in the region

The Horn of Africa suffers from recurrent droughts and emergencies, as well as continuously high under-nutrition and food insecurity among its population. Food insecurity is aggravated by the recent sharp increases in food and fuel prices, demographic pressures, weak governance, and insecurity in the area.

In combination, these factors make agricultural production and trade difficult. In 2010-11, the weather was exceptionally dry in the eastern part of the Horn of Africa, resulting in the worst drought in 60 years. Along with heightened insecurity in Somalia, this has led to large numbers of refugees. Livestock and crops were lost, affecting the lives of millions of people, and causing many deaths among the population.

The Horn of Africa is particularly exposed to climate change hazards and recurrent droughts. On 75% of the land of the region water scarcity represents a major constraint to development. Livestock represents nearly 60% of the region's agricultural GDP and the main source of income for a large number of rural households.

The 2011 Global Hunger Index indicated that the situation was 'serious' in Kenya, and 'alarming' in Djibouti and Ethiopia. Somalia could not be included in the ranking owing to a lack of data. While malnutrition and hunger rates for the Horn of Africa countries remain among the worst in the world, they have gradually been improving since 1990, particularly in Ethiopia.

EU Development Cooperation

Food security, agriculture and rural development are key sectors of EU development work with the Horn of Africa. Since 2008, the EU has committed over €400 million to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia; helping to feed the most vulnerable, improve nutrition and support sustainable agriculture in order to reduce the risks of outbreaks of famine. There are numerous projects on-going, with encouraging results. Some examples are:

In Ethiopia, the EU has supported the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) with €240 million since 2005. The programme gives 7-11 million people who are threatened by hunger a predictable income in return for their labour in rural infrastructure (e.g. road maintenance, anti-erosion work). The programme can be expanded if a shock or crisis occurs and has helped reduce the impact of the 2011 drought in Ethiopia.

In Somalia the EU helps to rehabilitate canals in agricultural areas: in 2010, about 50,000 farming and households directly benefited from support to irrigation and flood control infrastructure, as well as crop development. Another EU-funded project has helped to improve the health of livestock in Somalia. 6.7 million sheep and goats were treated and immunised, to protect them against diseases that limit productivity and trade.

In Somalia, the EU has provided support to Technical Veterinary School in Somaliland since 2002. The school offers diploma and certificate courses in livestock health sciences and in livestock product development and entrepreneurship. The presence of qualified veterinary staff trained by this school has been a crucial factor in the resumption and steady increase of livestock exports to the Middle East from Northern Somalia.

In the south of Somalia, the EU has ensured the development and trading of quality seeds. The newly established seed sector has performed very well and created a profitable market for farmers. Improved Somali seeds that are distributed locally to farmer associations can increase crop yields by 50-100%; doubling the production per hectare and reducing food insecurity.

The Kenya Rural Development Programme, with EU financing of €66.4 million, aims to improve food security by increasing crop productivity, as well as the resilience to drought of local communities in arid and semi-arid lands. It covers agricultural research, spreading knowledge on high-yielding and drought-resistant crops and technologies, as well as providing? better access to seeds, fertiliser, and markets for small-scale farmers. Concrete activities include the development and marketing of crops and fodder that can resist drought,as well as the improvement of post-harvest storage. The programme also helps the government in developing better policies for drought management.

The Drought Management Initiative in Kenya (EU contribution €18 million) has helped the Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands set up an early warning system for drought. It has also supported the Ministry in planning how to reduce the impact of drought in the future. This funding has also helped to create the Drought Management Authority and funds will be provided for drought preparedness and drought mitigation activities of particularly affected counties.

Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience: SHARE

Faced with the consequences of the 2011 drought, the European Commission developed an approach to ensure better cooperation between humanitarian and development assistance. An important goal is to better address the underlying causes of crises and improve the effectiveness of aid. This new approach – labelled 'Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience' or 'SHARE' - aims to assist the affected countries and communities in recovering after the drought and enhance countries' and people's resilience to any similar shocks in the future. Currently, investments are being made for a value of €250 million, including support to agricultural and livestock production, nutrition, livestock health, water supply and natural resource management.

On-going and planned assistance of SHARE, 2012-2013


Amount (million €)

Main activities



Disaster Risk Reduction, water, pastoralism



Nutrition, rural livelihoods, safety net, livestock development



Livestock development, drought preparedness, water, nutrition



Rangeland management, livestock support, safety net, agriculture, fisheries, alternative livelihoods



Livestock health &trade, livestock & climate change

Not (yet) allocated


Disaster Risk Reduction and livelihood recovery

For further information

MEMO/12/589 –Joint Statement by Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on the Horn of Africa, a year after the declaration of famine

Side Bar