The Great Lakes Region (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo)

The three countries that make up the region (Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC) are closely interconnected and have shaped each other’s development. Since they gained their independence, this continued interdependence has fed into cross-border conflicts that have caused enormous human suffering and brought state institutions to the brink of collapse. The three countries have signed peace agreements and held elections. However, it has become clear in recent years that these elections have failed to cement peace, and various conflicts endure. Institutions remain fragile and the people of the three countries have yet to reap the benefits of peace.

Map of the region Great Lakes Region (Rwanda, Burundi, DRC)
© FDFA

The Great Lakes region, comprised of Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern DRC, is a priority region for the South Cooperation Department of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This fragility is an obstacle to the strengthening of regional institutions and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Because the prospects of these three countries are intertwined, regional stability is a basic condition for improving the well-being of the local populations. In terms of business and trade, the region is rich in natural resources and offers many untapped opportunities.

Overall goal of the Swiss cooperation strategy for the Great Lakes region

In the Great Lakes region, Switzerland works to further peace and stability, reduce poverty and protect civilians. It helps to strengthen democratic processes, respect for human rights, social cohesion and employment, especially for young people. In line with Switzerland’s diplomatic and political efforts, these activities are aimed at strengthening the capacities of local people to overcome crises and challenges.

Dialogue, fighting impunity and diplomacy

Switzerland is committed to preventing and reducing violence, strengthening democratic institutions and processes, and contributing to the fight against impunity. Switzerland’s activities include facilitation and mediation at the political and civil society levels, support for elections and constitutional reforms, advocacy, monitoring and the protection of human rights. In Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, Switzerland has helped set up a variety of media outlets, especially radio stations, which perform a watchdog function and produce good quality programming, and has also supported the media’s self-regulation efforts.

Fragility and violence impede poverty reduction

Protection of civilians

Switzerland uses all means and channels at its disposal – bilateral, multilateral, the Geneva Conventions – to assure the existence of humanitarian spaces in the region which are necessary to protect vulnerable population groups and restore dignity to those who have been denied it. The protection of civilians includes the monitoring and recording of violations of international humanitarian law, inter-community dialogue, advocacy, training and awareness-raising activities, and reintegration measures. These efforts benefit nearly three million people every year. Switzerland has supported almost 300,000 people through its bilateral projects, including child protection projects, over the past four years.

Employment and economic development

To promote employment and income opportunities, Switzerland is giving priority to high-quality vocational education and training in occupational sectors that are adapted to the needs of the market, both in rural and peri-urban areas. In rural areas, Switzerland is focusing its efforts on the transformation of the building materials sector, which is experiencing rap­id growth and is very labour intensive. Technology introduced by Switzerland in Rwanda and Burundi to improve working conditions and energy efficiency in brickmaking has boosted production to approxi­mately 14 million bricks per year since 2015.

Basic education and vocational skills development

Health and combating violence against women

Ensuring continued access to healthcare services in crisis situations is critically important for public health, eases community tensions and promotes so­cial cohesion. Switzerland is working in this sector for universal healthcare and for primary and secondary health services, particularly mother and child health­care and the fight against child malnutrition. Switzerland is committed to combating violence against women. Swiss-supported efforts have helped some 60,000 women to access survivor support services since 2011, including 12,300 rape survivors who have received medical, psychological and legal sup­port. Thanks to the efforts of over 500 civil society organisations, 54% of the women have been able to reintegrate into their communities.

Gender equality

History of cooperation

Switzerland has been present in the Great Lakes region since the 1960s. For three decades, it carried out development cooperation programmes in the region, but since the 1990s, the primary focus has been on humanitarian aid and peace policy. As part of its 2017–20 strategy, Switzerland combines development aid, humanitarian aid, peace policy and diplomacy in the Great Lakes region. Through the coordinated deployment of these instruments, Switzerland aims to improve the coherence of its efforts, to deal more effectively with the complex political, security, humanitarian and developmental challenges facing the region.

Private Sector Development and financial services

Links

Documents

Current projects

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Appui aux media des Grands Lacs

01.08.2013 - 30.04.2020

Les médias des pays des Grands Lacs (Rwanda, Burundi. RDC) jouent un rôle clé dans la consolidation de la paix, dans le renforcement de la citoyenneté et dans la construction de la démocratie. Les médias sont confrontés à des difficultés d’ordre professionnel, économique, politique et juridique. Ce programme contribuera à la consolidation de la liberté d’expression et au droit à l’information, tout en renforçant les compétences et la pluralité des médias. 

Object 25 – 25 of 25