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

In the Great Lakes region, Switzerland promotes peace and the fight against poverty. Its support covers good governance and the protection of civilians, health and economic development. Switzerland's activities are implemented through its three foreign policy instruments: development cooperation, humanitarian aid and peace policy.

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

The three countries of the region (Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC) constitute a common geographical area composed of communities interconnected by language, culture, trade and family ties. Yet the region remains divided by a history of conflict that has torn the socio-political fabric apart and led to violent conflicts causing immense suffering. The peace agreements signed and the elections organised have not yet put an end to hostilities and built solid foundations for peace. The consequences of the COVID-19 crisis are exacerbating the challenges that the region is already facing.

In this context, Switzerland works through a regional programme that uses different international cooperation tools to strengthen existing regional ties and mitigate recurrent crises. Switzerland's activities focus mainly on good governance, health and economic development. 

Good governance, protection of the civilian population and conflict prevention

Switzerland is committed to consolidating peace, preventing violence, bolstering democratic institutions and processes, and furthering the fight against impunity.

It facilitates and mediates democratic processes by monitoring elections, supporting constitutional reforms and promoting and defending human rights.

It promotes dialogue pathways between the government and the population to strengthen accountability and citizen participation in decision-making processes.

When working to protect the civilian population, Switzerland distributes humanitarian goods and services to assist communities impacted by armed conflict. In the DRC and Burundi, over two million people receive Swiss humanitarian aid.

Good governance

Health and nutrition

Maintaining access to quality healthcare services is crucial for ensuring the well-being of populations, reducing tensions between communities and promoting social cohesion. Switzerland promotes universal health coverage and quality primary and secondary healthcare. Alongside its work to improve reproductive, maternal and children's health, Switzerland focuses in particular on the fight against chronic malnutrition. Concerning mental health, its work helps improve treatments for those affected and promotes efforts to deal with the past.

In parallel, Switzerland's commitment to combating violence against women has – over four years – enabled care-taking services for 80,000 people and supported over 700 community groups working on this issue. Concerning public health, Switzerland's humanitarian aid has been helping to meet the urgent needs of 700,000 people each year in the DRC.

Health – a prerequisite for development

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. It also focuses on promoting promising, forward-looking occupations and on strengthening partnerships between public and private actors.

Switzerland helps the authorities to improve good governance in the sectors concerned and to explore new production methods. In rural areas, it focuses on the processing of building materials, a growing sector. The technologies introduced to manufacture affordable, CO2-neutral bricks have increased production from 24 to 53 million bricks per year. In four years, Switzerland has trained nearly 8,500 young people in various occupations.

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis, Switzerland is helping to revive economic activity by strengthening the technical and financial capacities of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Basic education and vocational skills development

Private sector development and financial services

Transversal themes and other priorities

Gender equality, good governance and climate change

In order to reduce gender inequality, which remains pronounced in all three countries, Switzerland pays particular attention to gender within the framework of its commitments. It focuses on the fight against inequality in the labour market and on women's inclusion in decision-making processes. In all its projects, it is also committed to the goal of increased dialogue and contact between public institutions and communities. In addition, Switzerland is helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions caused by the construction materials value chain.

Gender equality

Climate change and the environment

Approach and partners

In the Great Lakes region, Switzerland uses the instruments of development cooperation, humanitarian aid and peace policy together to strengthen its activities' coherence and deal more effectively with the region's complex challenges.

Switzerland's objectives cannot be achieved without partnerships and coordination with the region's countries and local actors – including the private sector – as well as with the other bilateral and multilateral donors and the multiple international organisations involved. Swiss cooperation activities are aligned with the objectives of the national development strategies of the region's three countries.

The Great Lakes cooperation programme for 2022–25 is based on the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 and the International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24, which pursue key objectives in the areas of economic development, the environment, human development, peacebuilding, gender equality and good governance. 


Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 20

Citizen Participation and Conflict Prevention programme (PCPC)

01.05.2024 - 31.12.2029

Rwanda has achieved notable progress with regard to socioeconomic development and improved social cohesion. However, the role of citizens in decision-making and in holding leaders to account remains insufficient affecting the sustainability of results. This programme will increase the capability of the 30 districts in Rwanda to properly engage citizens in decision-making processes and will strengthen local conflict-resolution mechanisms, hence contributing to improved accountability and lasting social cohesion.

Additional Allocation of SDC Funding (Sub-Saharan Africa Division) in 2024 to ICRC Operations in DRC

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

SDC funding to ICRC operations allows the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to respond proactively and to provide immediate protection and assistance for people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises.

Burundi – Programme conjoint sur les droits humains

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

La situation des droits de l’homme au Burundi reste préoccupante en raison de la persistance des violations des droits de l’homme et de l'absence d'obligation de rendre des comptes. Le Programme conjoint sur les droits humains est une initiative multipartite (Gouvernement et bailleurs de fonds) qui vise à promouvoir l’application du cadre légal en matière de droits de l’homme par des institutions crédibles et efficaces.

Safer/Mercy Corps (2023-24)

01.11.2023 - 30.10.2024

Oans un contexte de crise humanitaire aigue, caracterise par des conflits armes et des deplacements de population, SAFER a pour objectif de fournir une assistance d'urgence flexible et coordonnee, contribuant a reduire I'impact immediat d'un choc pour les menages les plus vulnerables au travers d'une reponse multisectorielle en transfert monetaire ainsi que des activites specifiques en Eau, Hygiene et Assainissement d'urgence (EHA), dans les provinces de I'lturi, Nord et Sud Kivu.

Accelerating Rwanda's Nutrition Outcomes

01.09.2023 - 31.12.2024

The recent Rwanda Demographic Health Survey showed only a slight decline of stunting from 38% to 33%, not fulfilling the target of achieving 19% by 2024. As a result, a special national-wide programme "Accelerating Rwanda's Nutrition Outcome" is needed to get closer to the set targets. In parallel, the process of developing the new Strategic Plan for Agriculture (PSTA-5) and the new National Transformation Strategy (NST-2) offers us a unique opportunity to influence their development by a world leading organisation.

Appui à la formation professionnelle duale au Rwanda

01.08.2023 - 31.12.2027

To achieve the development aspirations of Rwanda, one of the critical elements is to build strong bridges between the world of work and training institutions. This project aims to improve the quality of education by emphasizing on strengthening national mechanisms for decision-making, system integration and active engagement of the private sector in the skills development process. It will therefore focus more on institutionalization and sustainability by integrating all the stakeholders in a high-performance and locally adapted TVET system.

Norwegian Church Aid (NCA): Violence basée sur le Genre: dignité, résilience et prévention

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2025

La violence basée sur le genre et particulièrement la violence sexuelle est un des problèmes de protection le plus répandu et le plus grave auquel sont confrontées surtout les femmes et les filles à l’est de la RDC. Dans une approche intégrée, ce projet vise à la fois à répondre, prévenir et renforcer la résilience des individus et de la communauté face à la violence basée sur le genre.

INSO program in DR Congo (RDC)

15.06.2023 - 30.06.2025

Étant donné la complexité et la volatilité du contexte, les ONG qui mettent en oeuvre des programmes à l’est de la RDC ont besoin de services d'information et de coordination sécuritaire, pour une meilleure compréhension de leur environnement opérationnel, une réduction des risques sécuritaires et la réalisation de leur mandat. INSO leurs fournit ces services sous forme de briefings périodiques, de conseils individuels et de formations permettant une meilleure mise en oeuvre des programmes notamment ceux de la Suisse.

PROMOST IV - Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training in the Great Lakes Region

01.02.2023 - 31.12.2025

Le manque de perspectives d’emploi est un défi majeur au Burundi et en RDC. Le programme PROMOST a contribué depuis 2012 à améliorer l’employabilité des jeunes (filles et garçons) issus des milieux défavorisés en favorisant leur accès à une formation professionnelle de qualité. Ce projet a jusqu’ici connu trois phases dont la dernière se termine le 31.01.2023 au Burundi et en RDC-Sud Kivu et le 31.12.2023 après prolongation au Rwanda. Tout en capitalisant sur les acquis des phases précédentes, cette phase de sortie mettra un accent sur l’institutionnalisation des dispositifs formation, la durabilité des systèmes d’EFTP et la qualité des emplois et revenus créés au Burundi et en RDC.

Programme Nutrition dans la Région des Grands Lacs

01.12.2021 - 31.12.2025

Les interventions suisses dans le domaine de la nutrition dans la région des Grands Lacs se concentrent sur la lutte contre la malnutrition chronique des enfants de moins de cinq ans et des femmes enceintes et allaitantes. La Phase III du programme nutrition au Rwanda, Burundi et RDC met l’accent sur l’engagement communautaire et le renforcement des institutions nationales. L’appui de la Suisse s’inscrit dans la continuité et promeut la mise à l’échelle de l’approche multisectorielle voulue dans le cadre de la réforme des Nations Unies.

Programme de Relance Economique et réduction de la pauvreté en réponse aux effets du Covid-19 dans la région des Grands Lacs

01.10.2021 - 30.06.2025

Dans les Grands Lacs, la Covid-19 a perturbé les systèmes économiques et sociaux faisant basculer un nombre important de personnes à faible revenu dans la pauvreté. Par ce programme, la Suisse entend contribuer à relancer l’activité des opérateurs économiques locaux, avec un accent particulier sur les micro, petites et moyennes entreprises, en mettant à leur disposition des fonds de garantie. La valeur ajoutée est que la Suisse donnera une attention particulière aux initiatives de commerce transfrontalier régionaux. 

Trans-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes Region

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2026

Jointly with the European Union, Switzerland supports a trans-border dialogue for peace in the Great Lakes Region, a program run by Interpeace with local NGOs. This third phase will focus on young women and young men as key drivers for peace and stability in the region and expand its activities to Uganda to further tackle the regionality of conflicts in the region. This will contribute to a better promotion of peace, good governance and concrete consensus-based solutions, in the region. 

Object 1 – 12 of 20