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 22

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 - 31.12.2024

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 - 31.08.2025

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. 

Programme Psychosocial dans la Région des Grands Lacs

01.09.2021 - 31.12.2023

Le programme contribue à l’amélioration du statut des femmes, en particulier celui des survivantes des violences sexuelles et basées sur le genre dans la Région des Grands Lacs (Burundi, Rwanda, RDC). La Suisse a développé une expertise en matière d’approche psychosociale communautaire qui a apporté des changements positifs de comportements et des normes liés au genre. Le focus de cette phase de sortie est l’intégration de cette approche dans les institutions publiques et son soutien par d’autres partenaires. 

Programme d’appui au système de santé du Sud Kivu (PASS Sud-Kivu)

01.05.2021 - 31.12.2023

Cette phase de consolidation des acquis est la dernière du Programme d’Appui au Système de Santé au Sud Kivu. L’appui systémique délocalisé promu par la Suisse vise à renforcer durablement le système de santé dans son ensemble, afin de le rendre plus efficient, résilient et équitable. Grâce à une meilleure gouvernance du système et au renforcement de la qualité des services, l’état de santé de près de 3 millions de personnes sera amélioré.

SYP Safeguard Young People in Eastern African countries

01.03.2021 - 28.02.2024

The SYP program contributes to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people, thus  reducing gender based health inequities. It supports the adoption, domestication and implementation of policies, and strengthens young people’s competencies on and access to SRHR services. The expansion to Tanzania and Rwanda leverages on the  experience in Southern Africa financed by SDC, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s thematic expertise and convening power.

Promotion de l‘emploi et de revenus non agricoles dans la région des Grands Lacs grâce à la production de matériaux de construction respectueux du climat (PROECCO)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

La forte demande en matériel de construction due à l’urbanisation rapide dans la région des Grands Lacs prédispose ce secteur à la création d’emploi et à offrir une perspective économique au grand nombre de jeunes dans la région. L’introduction par le projet PROECCO de briques améliorées, abordables et neutres en CO2 répondant aux normes de résistance et de durabilité a créé une forte demande. Pour la troisième phase, il s’agit d’appuyer le secteur privé à augmenter la production pour satisfaire la demande et d’atteindre les effets escomptés en emplois et en réduction des émissions de CO2

Programme de réponse à la pandémie Coronavirus 2019, COVID-19 Grands Lacs

01.05.2020 - 31.12.2022

Grace à son engagement de longue durée et son expertise reconnue dans le domaine de la santé, l’appui de la Suisse permettra aux pays de la région des Grands Lacs (Burundi, RD Congo et Rwanda) de renforcer leurs systèmes sanitaires, d’augmenter la surveillance de COVID-19, notamment par l’amélioration de la qualité et l’accessibilité des soins de santé de 27 millions de personnes, et de protéger les populations de l’épidémie. Ainsi, l’intervention contribuera à sauver des vies et à maintenir le capital humain, gage de tout développement. 

Allocation of SDC Funding to ICRC Operations in 2020

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2020

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.


Appui aux médias dans la région des Grands Lacs

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

Dans la région des Grands Lacs, les médias jouent un rôle central dans le processus de démocratisation. Cependant, ils sont fragilisés par un contexte politique sensible et des limites d’ordre professionnel et légal. Grace à son engagement à long terme, la Suisse a une grande crédibilité dans ce secteur. Le programme vise à renforcer la cohésion sociale à travers l’amélioration des capacités des médias, à fournir une information de qualité et à offrir une plateforme de dialogue entre acteurs. L’intervention sera faite au travers des partenaires locaux, régionaux et internationaux. 

UN-Gender Rwanda

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2023

In line with SDC’s engagement on fighting sexual and gender-based violence and women’s empowerment in the Great Lakes region, the UN-Gender Program will contribute to the efforts of the Government of Rwanda and the UN Agencies in Rwanda to transform commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment into concrete actions, in particular through awareness raising and capacity building for women and strengthening service providers.

Cross Boarder Trade for Peace

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022

In line with SDC’s strategy to increase the elements of its portfolio fostering cross-border cooperation in the Great Lakes, this project seeks to address the lack of social cohesion and trust amongst border communities in the Great Lakes region especially between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Burundi. Cross Border Trade for Peace is a contribution by SDC to the Mupaka Shamba Letu (The border, our livelihood) project co-financed with SIDA and implemented by International Alert. A particular focus is given to empowering women active in cross-border trade.

Object 1 – 12 of 22