huts in a desert area
Traditional Afar houses - the Afar are a population significantly impacted by migration and mobility concerns

Regional Migration Fund mobilised to support migrants in the Horn of Africa

To help address the root causes of migration and the needs of those in search of a better life, KfW is financing projects to enhance the economic potential of border areas while also improving the socioeconomic inclusion of refugees and host communities

29. Nov 2019

The Horn of Africa and Nile Valley region comprises the countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda and has a population of more than 250 million people. Among the greatest challenges facing the region is the issue of migration, particularly ‘irregular’ migration which takes place outside of laws and international agreements governing movement of people. With nearly 12 million displaced persons, it’s an issue that impacts countries in different ways.

To help meet this challenge, the German government (through KfW, the German development bank) has made €20 million available to establish the Regional Migration Fund. With the support of NIRAS staff, a Fund Management Unit (FMU) has been established and will operate for the next several years under the umbrella of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional trade bloc (see sidebar for further information).

12+ million

displaced people in the region

Improving livelihood for migrants

The Fund seeks to work on migration-related issues in two main ways. First, it hopes to increase employment and improve livelihoods for migrants and the population of local communities in border areas and along migration routes.

Investment Window 1 (IW1) will provide economic infrastructure like roads or agricultural processing facilities, and access to finance for businesses which employ more people, help improve business and practical skills, or develop key value chains.

Even this early into project implementation, several cross-border sites have been identified between Ethiopia and Sudan and Ethiopia and Kenya where this size of investment can yield immediate impact. The team is preparing to verify these sites for suitability.



From left to right: FMU team, Tor Jörgensen (NIRAS Project Manager), Luc Zwaenepoel (Team Leader),  Aime Ouattara (Finance and Procurement Expert), Leena Kirjavainen (M&E and Gender Expert, Douglas Hindson (Local Economic and Development Expert), Maina Githinji (Environmental and Social-Safeguards Expert), just out of a coordination meeting with IGAD counterpart at the IGAD Secretariat in Djibouti-Ville

Socioeconomic inclusion of refugees

Second, the Fund will enhance the socioeconomic inclusion of refugees and the populations of host communities in situations of protracted displacement.

Investment Window 2 (IW2) will fund projects which provide shared social and economic infrastructure, livelihood options, measures to improve social cohesion (such as youth centres and dialogue forums), and general economic development.

The particular focus of IW2 will likely be on areas of protracted settlement around Djibouti, where the scope of the challenge is such that real progress can be made in the near-term.  Several verification missions have already taken place to ensure their eligibility.

Lutheran World Federation (LWF) organized a meeting  on 14 November with refugees in Djiboutiville. Most of them needed help in writing for registration, and during the meeting they told organisers about their journey, challenges, and hopes for the future.

Replicating results regionally

Verification missions allow the FMU to assess if the proposed project site will really have significant impact or if funding would be better allocated elsewhere.

Using a participatory approach from the very beginning and assessing the effectiveness and impact of projects throughout their full life cycle, the team will be able to make even more informed recommendations in the future.

Based on these results, the Fund will then be able to seek additional funding and replicate the results regionally. Long-term, the plan is that IGAD will fully take over operation of the Fund in four years when sufficient internal capacity has been built.