by David Musyoka
NAIROBI,The eight countries in the Horn of Africa region are set to benefit from 8 billion U.S. dollars development assistance from the donors, a statement from the World Bank said.
A statement issued from the World Bank offices in Nairobi said on Monday that the development initiative covers the eight countries in the Horn of Africa — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim who is due in Nairobi this week said the new financing represents a major new opportunity for the people of the Horn of Africa to make sure they get access to clean water, nutritious food, health care, education, and jobs.
“There is greater opportunity now for the Horn of Africa to break free from its cycles of drought, food insecurity, water insecurity, and conflict by building up regional security, generating a peace dividend, especially among young women and men, and spurring more cross-border cooperation,” Jim said.
The World Bank Group announced a major new financial pledge of 1.8 billion dollars for cross-border activities in a Horn of Africa Initiative that will boost economic growth and opportunity, reduce poverty, and spur business activity.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said countries of the Horn of Africa are making significant progress in economic growth and political stability.
“Now is a crucial moment to support those efforts, end the cycles of conflict and poverty, and move from fragility to sustainability. The UN is joining with other global and regional leaders to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach towards peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa,” Ban said in the statement.
The donors said countries in the region are also vulnerable to corruption, piracy, arms and drug trafficking, adding that terrorism, and related money flows are significant and interconnected threats in the Horn of Africa.
“People-trafficking is also a growing problem in the region. However, there are commendable efforts being made through regional cooperation in parts of the Horn to tackle the root causes of these problems,” the statement said.
The EU also announced that it would support the countries in the region with a total of around 3.7 billion dollars until 2020, of which about 10 percent would be for cross-border activities.
The EU’s Horn of Africa approach is based on a strategic framework adopted in 2011, noting that support programs for 2014- 2020 will be guided by the same analysis that underpins the World Bank’s Horn of Africa Initiative and will focus on the development challenges that must be tackled to unlock the region’s considerable potential.
The Horn region is diverse, with some of the fastest growing economies and huge untapped natural resources. However, it also has many extraordinarily poor people and populations that are now doubling every 23 years.
Unemployment is widespread among growing numbers of young people. Women, in particular, face huge obstacles because of their gender, including limited land rights, limited education, and social customs that often thwart their ability to pursue economic opportunity, and improve living conditions for their families and communities.
A new World Bank Group paper forecasts that the Horn will undergo dramatic and lasting change when oil production starts in Kenya, Uganda, and possibly Somalia and Ethiopia.