About IGAD


The journey to transform the IGAD region is outlined in the strategic framework since its first Strategic plan in 1987. IGAD’s Regional Strategy and its Implementation Plans have served as a comprehensive development and implementation framework, guiding the Programme’s priority areas and aligning them to emerging issues in the region.

The formulation of the IGAD Regional Strategy and Implementation Matrix 2021–2025 is the culmination of a long and intensive process that began in January 2020, following a decision to develop the IGAD’s Vision 2050. Subsequent meetings resulted in an extensive consultative process that drafted a conceptual framework for the IGAD Vision2050 and later formulated the Regional Strategy that was anchored on Vision 2050.

The IGAD Strategic framework is derived from the organisation’s mandate. The mandate plays the important role of translating the IGAD Vision 2050 into the IGAD Regional Strategy and Implementation Plan 2021–2025. It does so by committing to move towards 2050 by leveraging areas of excellence and implementing priorities aimed at achieving a sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development. This will be done through socio-economic growth, regional integration as well as peace and security, and guided by the purposes and principles of the Agreement Establishing IGAD.

The IGAD Vision 2050 will be the region’s development blueprint for the five years’ period. The Vision 2050 will seek to transform the IGAD region into upper middle-income economy and an industrialized region to serve as a continental beacon of regional peace, stability, and security by 2050. It is anchored on regional peace and security; macroeconomic stability; equitable distribution of resources and wealth creation for all citizens; infrastructure; energy; science, technology, and innovation (STI); climate change mitigation; and efficient utilization of environment and natural resources.

The IGAD Vision 2050 is clustered into three-phased transformative programme. Each of the 10 years focuses on a specific goal. The first phase looks at application of STI in a natural resource-based economy; the second and third phases are anchored on industrialisation and knowledge driven diversification of regional economies, respectively. The broad key intervention areas are food security, social economic development, sustainable management of transboundary resources in support of development and Climate change management, Peace and Security.

The first ten years – within which the current strategy 2021-2025 falls – prioritises structural transformation of the region through value addition and industrial diversification, commercialisation and expansion of resilient green and blue economies, and sustainable utilization of the natural resources. All those areas rely heavily on technological innovation for increased production and productivity within a peaceful society. These interventions require coordination so as to facilitate collaboration at regional, national and continental levels. They also need to be linked with global frameworks to support trade, appropriate policy, legal and regulatory frameworks including financial market stability that is critical in macro- economic stability to buffer a more liberalised economy, intra/extra regional infrastructure connectivity, institutional support mechanism, integrating SMEs into the production and distribution frameworks in the emerging business environment.

IGAD: Its History and Development

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa was created in 1996 to supersede the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) which was founded in 1986 to mitigate the effects of the recurring severe droughts and other natural disasters that resulted in widespread famine, ecological degradation and economic hardship in the region. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda – took action through the United Nations to establish the intergovernmental body for development and drought control in their region. Eritrea became the seventh member after attaining independence in 1993 and in 2011 South Sudan joined IGAD as the eighth member state.

With the new emerging political and socio-economic challenges, the assembly of Heads of State and Government, meeting in Addis Ababa in April 1995, resolved to revitalize IGADD and expand areas of cooperation among Member States. The new and revitalized IGAD was launched during the 5th Summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on 25-26 November 1996 in Djibouti. The Summit endorsed the decision to enhance regional cooperation in three priority areas of food security and environmental protection, economic cooperation, regional integration and social development peace and security.

IGAD Vision and Mission Statements

The founding leaders of IGAD were motivated by a vision where the people of the region would develop a regional identity, live in peace and enjoy a safe environment alleviating poverty through appropriate and effective sustainable development programmes. The IGAD Secretariat as the executive body of the Authority was given the mandate to achieve this goal.

Vision: A resilient, peaceful, prosperous and integrated region where citizens enjoy high quality of life

Mission: Promote regional cooperation and integration to add value to Member States’ efforts in achieving peace, security, and prosperity.

Goal: Transformation towards sustainable development, resilience and stability in the IGAD Region

Theme: Transformative regional capacities for sustainable development

Aims and Objectives

As stipulated in Article 7 of the Agreement Establishing IGAD, the aims of IGAD include:

  • Promote joint development strategies and gradually harmonize macro-economic policies and programmes in the social, technological and scientific fields;
  • Harmonize policies with regard to trade, customs, transport, communications, agriculture, and natural resources and environment, and promote free movement of goods, services, and people within the region.
  • Create an enabling environment for foreign, cross-border and domestic trade and investment;
  • Initiate and promote programmes and projects to achieve regional food security and sustainable development of natural resources and environmental protection, and encourage and assist efforts of Member States to collectively combat drought and other natural and man-made disasters and their consequences;
  • Develop and improve a coordinated and complementary infrastructure, in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy in the region;
  • Promote peace and stability in the region and create mechanisms within the region for the prevention, management and resolution of inter-State and intra-State conflicts through dialogue;
  • Mobilize resources for the implementation of emergency, short-term, medium-term and long-term programmes within the framework of regional cooperation;
  • Facilitate, promote and strengthen cooperation in research development and application in science and technology.
  • Provide capacity building and training at regional and national levels; and
  • Generate and disseminate development information in the region
Areas of Cooperation

The Agreement Establishing IGAD identifies some twenty areas of cooperation among the Member States. In addressing these diverse areas of cooperation in a manageable manner, the overarching IGAD Regional Strategy (2021–2025) regrouped them under four Pillars as follows:

Pillar 1: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment;

Pillar 2: Economic Cooperation and Regional Integration;

Pillar 3: Health and Social Development;

Pillar 4: Peace and Security;

Pillar 5: Corporate Development Services

Hence, all IGAD programmes are clustered under these Pillars. The details of the programmes are provided in the specific sectoral and/or departmental strategies.

IGAD recognises the need for close and cooperative partnerships with all stakeholders in translating the ideals of the Strategy into concrete results. To that effect, IGAD has entered into partnerships with relevant actors at the local, national, regional and global levels who have similar mandates for achieving sustainable development in the region. Key IGAD partners include among others: the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the European Union (EU), Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Ireland, USAID, and Switzerland. Furthermore, IGAD enjoys close cooperation with the African Union (AU), RECs, UN-system agencies, and range of international, regional civil society organisations.

IGAD Structure

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development is comprised of four hierarchical policy organs as shown in the Figure 1 below:

  • THE ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT is the supreme policy making and regulatory organ of the IGAD. It determines the objectives, guidelines and programmes for IGAD and meets once a year. A Chairman is elected from the Member States in rotation.
  • THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and one other Focal Minister designated by each member state. The Council formulates policy, approves the work programme and annual budget of the Secretariat during its biannual sessions.
  • THE COMMITTEE OF AMBASSADORS is comprised of IGAD Member States’ Ambassadors or Plenipotentiaries accredited to the country of IGAD Headquarters. It convenes as often as the need arises to advise and guide the Executive Secretary.
  • THE SECRETARIAT is headed by an Executive Secretary appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a term of four years, renewable once. The Secretariat assists Member States in formulating regional projects in the priority areas, facilitates the coordination and harmonisation of development policies, mobilises resources to implement regional projects and programmes approved by the Council and reinforces national infrastructures necessary for implementing regional projects and policies.

The Executive Secretary is assisted by Divisions responsible for:

  • Agriculture and Environment;
  • Economic Cooperation and Regional Integration;
  • Health Social Development;
  • Peace and Security;
  • Administration and Finance; and
  • Planning Coordination and Partnerships

Besides the mentioned Divisions at the Headquarters in Djibouti, IGAD has a number of specialized institutions and Programmes hosted by other Member States. These include the IGAD Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), the IGAD Security Sector Programme (ISSP), the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Area and Livestock Development (ICPALD) and IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), and the IGAD Regional Aids Programme (IRAPP).

Comparative Advantage

IGAD is a Regional Economic Community (REC), one of the eight building blocs of the African Economic Community (AEC).  The strategic location of the region, its size, ecological diversity, vast resources and people who are naturally integrated by culture and transboundary resources are among the main advantages that IGAD possesses. Furthermore, the IGAD region is host to a number of UN agencies and the AUC (in Addis Ababa and Nairobi), which allows for leveraged communications and faciliating meetings with the various Heads of State on high level policy issues and topics of common interest within the region.

The IGAD also enjoys the support of the individual Member States, as well as having formidable political clout through the high-level policy organs that are able to work collectively on tackling complex regional issues. Despite prevailing bilateral differences between some Member States, there is a positive commitment towards IGAD as the regional development institution. This is exemplified by the regular use of IGAD as a vehicle for addressing regional problems and concerns such as the Sudan and Somalia Peace Processes, regular participation of all countries in the meetings of the IGAD policy organs, financial contributions paid for the up-keep of the Secretariat and the establishment of political instruments such as IGAD Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) the IGAD Security Sector Programme (ISSP), the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Area and Livestock Development (ICPALD) and IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC). This political will for regional cooperation is one of the strongest assets of IGAD, and has led to the IGAD Secretariat playing an increasingly important role in regional coordination and working towards developing a common position for the Member States in various regional and international fora, meetings, and conferences.

The programmatic approach adopted by the IGAD, another comparative advantage of the organization, creates the opportunity to connect individual programs and projects to a longer term vision and outcomes. The approach works on the premise that when diverse actors join their forces, the net effect will be bigger than the sum of the individual activities. Furthermore, a programmatic approach recognizes the importance of local ownership as a crucial and decisive element in creating a common vision and a strategy, setting the agenda and priorities, and establishing a plan of action. As a result, the IGAD has been able to create platforms and fora for engaging technical experts from the Member States to discuss issues concerning the environment, transport, gender affairs, health (HIV/AIDS), drought relience initiative (IDDRSI) and many regional technical committees; thus advancing the collective knowledge of the IGAD region. It has also created platforms where IGAD and its Development Partners discuss on regional priority interventions, mainstreaming of development partners’ programmes and projects into regional development frameworks, resources mobilisation and monitoring of the implementation of programmes and projects supported by Development Partners. The IGAD Partners Forum (IPF) at political and technical levels demonstrate additional strength of IGAD.

Capacity building initiatives such as the Institutional Strengthening Action Programme (ISAP) are another major strength of IGAD. These include identifying training needs, developing training concepts to address the needs, mobilising funds to organize, conduct and facilitate the whole range of IGAD activities including cross-cutting themes like information management, gender and mediation processes.

The IGAD Region

The Geography of the Region

The IGAD region stretches over an area of 5.2 million km2 that comprises the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The region has about 6960 Km of coastline with the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Toudjoura and the Red Sea. Also, the IGAD region has a total of 6910 Km of international borders with Egypt, Libya, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Map 1 above shows the region. Some 70 percent of the IGAD region is made up of Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs), which receive less than 600 mm of rainfall annually. The rest of the region has a great variety of climates and landscapes including cool highlands, swamp areas, tropical rain forests and other features typical of an equatorial region. Furthermore, the region possesses diverse ecosystems and agro-ecological zones at different altitudes ranging from 150 meters below sea level (Dalul) to about 4600 meters above the sea level (Mount Kenya). Socio-economically, most of the IGAD Member States belong to the worlde’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and share similar economic growth rates and social ethnic groups across their borders, which could be a good opportunity for regional integration, if appropriately utilised.

Farmlands account for 7 percent, forests 19 percent and permanent pastures 28 percent of the total land area. The remaining 46 percent is relatively unproductive or marginal land.  Additionally, this region also contains extensive mineral resources that have not yet been fully explored and exploited. One of the main challenges in maximizing the agricultural potential of this region is the high degree of variability in rainfall patterns in terms of both space and time. Furthermore, the IGAD region is prone to recurrent droughts and dry spells, making it one of the most vulnerable regions on the African continent for climatic variations, which accentuates the need for policies and programmes that enhance the technical and research capacities of the region. Land and environmental degradation are the most serious threats to the region as both affect its agricultural production and economic growth. Such degradation does not only contribute to food insecurity, famine and poverty, but may equally fuel social, economic and political tensions that can cause conflicts, wider poverty and misery. Sustainable management of natural resources is therefore essential if the IGAD Member States are to achieve sustainable development, eradication of poverty, peace and security. This is particularly true for transboundary natural resources, like surface and ground water resources.

Demography of the Region

The IGAD region has a population of over 230 million people characterised by high natural population growth rates. The average population density is about 30 persons per km2. Variations in the population density between the IGAD countries are substantial ranging from 14.5 persons per km2 in Somalia to above 95 persons per km2 in Uganda. These variations are even more pronounced between the different ecological zones. For example, within the IGAD region there are deserts with scarcely anybody living in them, and conversely there are rural areas with high populations of more than 600 persons living on one km2.  Similarly, urban densities are quite high, for instance in Nairobi where there are 4,509 persons/km2 and higher still in Addis Ababa at 5,165 persons/km2.  However, the demographic age structure shows that some 50 percent of the population are youth, which provides a good opportunity for continued economic growth, if the youth is provided with, appropriate education and training.

Moreover, there is a major trend for urbanisation in the IGAD region with large numbers of people from the rural areas migrating into the big urban centres in search of employment and better incomes. The average rate of urbanisation in the region is estimated at 4.1 percent. The capital cities of Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Khartoum have populations of well over three million each. Socio-economic and environmental problems in the ever-growing urban centres are on-going challenge, and present a very real threat to peace and stability in some countries of the IGAD region.

Economy of the Region

The overall economic performance of the region as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is positive, having registered above 5% growth during the plan period against the AU/SDG target of 7%. The agriculture sector remains the dominant sector, accounting for 31% of the GDP inthe region in 2018, 60% of the export earnings and 80% of employment opportunities (Table 1, Fig 1). Djibouti’s economy was largely service-based (60%), centred on port services and facilities, while that of South Sudan was anchored on oil revenues (90%) and Somalia dependent on livestock to the tune of 40%. Agriculture in Kenya accounted for 34%,
while in Ethiopia and Uganda it contributed 33% and 24%, respectively. In South Sudan, it was less than 10% during the plan period. Kenya and Uganda, though reflecting mixed economic structures, remain dependent on agriculture too. Ethiopia’s economy has however demonstrated structural transformation towards industrial development. In all, the average GDP growth rate for the region at 5% is below the targeted growth rate of 7%.

The promising economic prospects in the region, the overall improvement in governance, as well as an emerging middle class, there should be an increase in income. Climatic changes and environmental degradation, as well as heavy dependence on agriculture and livestock, exposes the region to persistent extremes of droughts and flooding. As a result, the region experiences frequent economic turbulences which continue to erode livelihoods and destroy lives (FAO, 2019). The region remains dependent on imports and food aid. There is minimal activity in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. This has contributed to high youth unemployment. The Human Development Index has remained largely unchanged, or declined in some cases, since 2014.

Governance Issues

The region is increasingly moving towards democratic governance and has made good progress towards establishing a competitive economy. Good governance with appropriate and conducive structures and institutions is a significant prerequisite for the positive outcomes of sustainable development at all levels. The IGAD member states have been progressively taking tangible steps towards improving governance systems both at the national and regional levels by strengthening structures and institutions in all development sectors and their respective inter-linkages by ensuring coherence, integrating policies, minimizing duplication of efforts and wastage of resources, and strengthening institutional capacities. The region has realised commendable economic performance through improvements in transparency and accountability, decentralization and empowerment, social inclusiveness and democratization. Nevertheless, some macroeconomic challenges remain which require continued and deepening institutional reforms and creation of an enabling environment for private-sector development as well as capacity development. Civil Society and non-state actors are not playing their role and should have much bigger role to play in the IGAD’s development initiatives such as project preparation and implementation.The IGAD civil society and non-governmental organizations Forum which was established pursuant to the decision of the IGAD Council of Ministers should serve as the mechanism to involve civil society appropriately in the policy formulation and strategic planning discussions, and the planning, designing and implementation of IGAD programmes and processes. Governance, peace and security and humanitrian affairs will have to increasingly play a pivotal role in responding to the various adversities that the region faces.

IGAD thrusts in regional development 

As part of the effort to deliver its mandate, IGAD has devoted considerable resources and energy towards mitigating the effects of drought, desertification and food insecurity in the region. Despite these efforts, however, drought and food insecurity continue to be major critical threats to the region. Hence, IGAD has adopted an integrated, multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to address these threats. This new approach would contribute more effectively to the attainment of resilient economic development in the region, particularly in areas where the economic mainstay depends on primary production. With a view to ending drought emergencies while enhancing food security and environmental protection, maintaining peace and promoting economic integration in the region, IGAD continues to advance the implementation of the following multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary agendas.

Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Security (ALFS)

Agriculture and Livestock remain the dominant component of the economies of the IGAD member countries in terms of their contribution to GDP, employment and income. One of the main thrusts of IGAD is to boost agricultural production and sustain management of natural resources and the environment to ensure resilient livelihoods and sustained economic growth. This is in line with the mission of the African Union and its organs. IGAD is charged with the responsibility of supporting national agricultural policies and promoting cooperation among the member states for mutual benefit while ensuring that these policies are based on rational use of natural resources and also encompass sound environmental management for sustainable development. Following one of the worst droughts in the region that particularly affected Somalia in 2010 and 2011, the region adopted the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) and a number of the related initiatives aimed at operationalizing drought resilience in the region’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs). Furthermore, IGAD developed the IGAD Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in response to the Maputo Summit Decision of 2003.

Other initiatives include the establishment of the Dryland Agricultural Research and Technology Programme aimed at enhancing food security in the dryer parts of the region through cooperation, integration, and exchanges of technologies and information on the promotion of production in the ASALs. This indicates clearly that, for sound socio-economic development, the real growth will be realized by developing this sector as the leading engine of agricultural growth. Development of this sector will be vital for poverty reduction, wealth creation and improving food security.

The agricultural sector (in its broadest sense) has a significant contribution to make to the economic development of the region generating almost 70 percent of export earnings. It employs more than 80 percent of the workforce and it is likely to remain the major source of inputs for the region’s emerging industrial sector. Considering the sector’s contribution to the GDPs of member states, it contributed 43 percent to Ethiopia’s GDP and 40 percent to that of Somalia. For Sudan, Kenya and Uganda the sector contributed 34 percent, 26 percent and 23 percent respectively. Countries like South Sudan and Djibouti had the lowest contributions to their GDP (15 percent and 4 percent respectively) (see table 3).  In terms of economic growth rates, Ethiopia has the highest rate at 7.1 percent, while other IGAD member states, on average had about 2.5 percent.

Natural Resources and Environment Protection (NREP) Sector

The IGAD region is characterized by complex geological and topographical formations that exhibit a wide diversity of terrains and landscapes. This diversity has produced regional variations as manifested with different ecological zones such as the East African Rift Valley, deserts, arid-, semi-arid, dry-, dry sub-humid, humid, mountainous and alpine lands in the region. In the distant past, the IGAD region had a pristine environment and intact natural resources. With time, however, human activities coupled with climate change have dramatically altered the extent, type, composition and quality of ecosystems and natural resources in the region. In fact, recent studies indicate that currently, only 5 percent of the original ecosystems / habitats remain intact in the region.  This means that 95 percent of the original ecosystems have been either converted for other land use forms or have been degraded severely or moderately by different drivers. The main drivers of environmental and natural resources include climate change, frequent drought, high population growth, overgrazing, forest degradation, soil and land degradation, wildlife poaching and trafficking, desertification, etc. The impact of these drivers is the reduction of the capability of the different ecosystems to provide the necessary goods and services essential for the survival of living things in the region.

The contribution of the environmental resources to the IGAD economy is massive. These agricultural sector alone accounts for large contributions to the regions gross domestic product (including indirect links to other economic sectors), export earnings, government revenues, and jobs in the formal economy. Other environmental income contributions to the economy come from tourism based on IGAD’s natural endowment of wildlife, mountains, rangelands, beaches, and coral reefs, as well as timber production from forests and fish catches from lakes, rivers, and the Indian Ocean.

IGAD’s development is largely dependent on natural resources’ wealth. Citizens within the IGAD region—like all people on Earth—depend on nature to sustain their lives and livelihoods. Not only do they obtain from nature the basic goods needed for survival—such as water, food, and fiber—they also rely on nature to purify air and water, produce healthy soils, cycle nutrients, and regulate climate.

The natural resources are the drivers of national and regional economic development. The resources include fresh water and marine and coastal water ecosystems; forests and wildlife, wetlands, rangelands, arable land and mountains; minerals and energy resources, and rich biodiversity. The IGAD member States recognize that a clean and healthy environment is a prerequisite for sustainable development, and development activities in various productive and social sectors including agriculture and livestock, energy, industry, infrastructure, may pose negative impacts leading to the degradation of the environment.

IGAD priorities for coastal and marine environments include the support and implementation of the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions and the African Process for the management of Africa’s coastal and marine resources. These seek to: control pollution and coastal erosion; promote sustainable use of living resources; promote sustainable management of key habitats and ecosystems; and promote sustainable economic development.

While it is clear that natural resources make a very important contribution to the basic needs of rural people, a major question relates to how they contribute to poverty reduction in terms of official figures.  Most countries in the IGAD for instance are expected to maintain a strong economic performance with a growth rate of more than 6 percent during the projection periods of 2014 and 2015. Growth will be driven by a number of factors including improved performances in the agricultural, mining, tourism and industrial sectors, all of which are reliant on natural resources. Notably, two countries, namely Ethiopia and Uganda, are projected to grow at around 7 percent or more during the projection period; while other countries such as Djibouti will most likely achieve growth rates of between 5 percent and 7 percent. Even for countries with relatively low projected growth rates, such as Eritrea, and Sudan, the projected growth rates are in almost all cases higher than those of 2013 all largely attributable to natural resources.

Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration (RECI) Sector

IGAD’s focus for regional economic cooperation and integration is to create an open, unified, regional economic space for the business community – a single market open to competitive entry and well integrated into the continental and global economies. This focus requires both regional infrastructure as well as the gradual harmonization of policies for the removal of barriers to inter-state communications. Globalisation trends of the world economy which offer vast opporunities at the same time pose major constraints for the IGAD region. They also offer potential benefits if they are exploited as appropriate policy measures and structural changes in a combined effort. Among the four Divisons that constitute IGAD’s operations and reflect its major areas of focus is the Economic Cooperation and Integration and Social Development Division which has the following programme areas:

  • Trade, Tourism and Industry
  • Infrastructure Development
  • Health and Social Development

In the transport and infrastructure sub-sector, the IGAD interventions are based on the Horn of Africa Initiative (HOAI). The HOAI was designed to provide the IGAD Region with badly needed connectivity but guided by a broad regional policy that calls for a safe, secure and efficient integrated infrastructure system responsive to the needs of the people and the economy and to strengthening of regional integration by unlocking small scattered markets along the region and creating a bigger regional market space that will enhance IGAD’s economic competitiveness. Therefore the main thrust for the IGAD regional infrastructure is based on the HOAI and goes in line with the AU PIDA strategic framework for 2040.  The IGAD Free Trade Area (FTA) and the Minimum Integration Plan envisaged in the six stages for the accomplishment of the African Economic Community (AEC), which include the creation of a free trade area and customs union in each of the eight regional blocks by 2017 that is too ambitious to achieve. The implementation of the IGAD FTA entails the establishment of Free Mobility Regime through the implementation of a Protocol for the Free Movement of Persons. This aims to reduce travel restrictions persisting in the region and to facilitate movement, the right of establishment of business and employment, residence, the acquisition of work permits, and pastoral mobility.

In the industry sub-sector IGAD is scaling up industry activities like minerals resources processing and development, agro-processing, cotton, textiles and apparels, metal processing and fabrication in conjunction with its member states. The successful implementation of these industry activities will enhance regional integration and economic cooperation and value addition. More importantly it will add value to the living standards of citizens in the member states as it boosts intra-African trade. In line with the African Mining Vision, IGAD is involved in the activities to strengthen the recently established African Minerals Development Centre.

Social Development (SD) Sector

The ultimate goal of IGAD’s ezistance is the welfare of its population in the form of human security. IGAD aims to accelerate economic and social development and integration of the members of the region through integration efforts of RECs and the Member States. IGAD’s health and social development agenda encompasses all human development issues and upgrading of human welfare in the IGAD region with focus on youth, children, women, and other vulnerable population catagories. This programme is to provide basic services and enhance social development for the people of the IGAD region. The health and social development programme area covers a broad range of sectors which include health, education, employment, social protection, migration, culture, population, and sports.

Successful accomplishment of social and cultural development should be the basis for regional integration agenda in IGAD regio. So vitally, social development has multiplier and huger positive effect on facilitates achievement of other IGAD strategic objectives in maintaining peace and security throughout the region and promoting advancement in terms of political, economic, environment and agricultural sector leading to sustainable development of the region, and consequently contributing to the continental integration and development. Social development in term of availability of the education, health and wellbeing of the people would enhance the long term development by providing conditions and human capital for decent employment opportunities, by enhancing capacities for implementation of innovative social protection schemes; and by building and improving governance institutions through strengthening of social dialogue.

Peace and Security (PS) Sector 

Peace and security are fundamental prerequisites for the attainment of sustainable development. Threats to peace and security are interlinked and comprise various human insecurities that emanate from both inter and intra-state conflicts and transnational security threats such as terrorism, human and drug trafficking, illicit use of small arms and light weapons among other causes. The resulting political and social problems further threaten development efforts and complicate interventions to alleviate various related challenges.

In Africa, no region is more plagued with protracted violent conflicts than the IGAD region. The presence of more than four United Nations and African Union peace support operation with more than 50,000 troops in the region (Darfur-Sudan, Abyei, Somalia, South Sudan), hundreds of Qatari military observers on the Djibouti-Eritrea Border and thousands of western military forces on the Djibouti, emphasizes the peace and security challenges afflicting the IGAD region. According to various studies, IGAD member states, including South Sudan, which was sucked into a deeper political crisis and conflict at the end of 2013, are listed among the thirty-five most fragile countries in the World. Sudan faces conflict in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Terrorism has been source of grave threats to the IGAD region’s peace and development. Since 1993, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda have faced terrorist attacks by Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahidden (Al Shabaab) and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) operating in Uganda and South Sudan.

Complicated by the legacy of colonialism, border disputes have become factors of distrust, and instability with wider regional implications. In some instances, these border disputes have escalated into border wars and led to military invasions. The Ethiopia-Somalia war of 1977, the recent Ethio-Eritrea conflict of 1998, the Djibouti-Eritrea conflicts of 1995 and 2008, and the Sudan-South and Sudan border related wars in 2012 are good examples. As a result, the IGAD region was plagued by protracted violent conflicts and still is besieged by internal and international, mainly border related, wars.

On the positive note, IGAD has also been at the forefront in the efforts to address these peace and security challenges. Indicative of the progress the region has made in the past two decades or so, in actual terms, IGAD, as institution, has now been transformed from being primarily a group of states determined to fight drought and desertification into a prominent Regional Economic Community (REC), without which no peace and security issues could be effectively dealt with in the region. IGAD has relatively far better experience in peace and security and is therefore better equipped to directly address conflict situations. IGAD is also contributing to the continental peace and security mechanisms and peace support operations. In terms of actual troop contributions, IGAD MSs (Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti) are the leading troop contributing countries to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the UN and the AU Hybrid Peacekeeping Missions in Darfur –UNAMID, Abyei-UNISFA), South Sudan-UNMISS, UNMIL and the Verification and Monitoring Mission in Sudan (2003) as well as the on-going Monitoring and Verification Mission in South Sudan since 2014. IGAD organs have gradually also become more proactive in peace processes and initiatives such as South Sudan, Somalia and Sudan.  As primary targets of terrorist attacks, the IGAD Member States are at the forefront of fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia and in the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA).

More essentially, in addressing the root causes of protracted conflicts, the IGAD region is increasingly embracing democratic constitutional reforms and empowerment of local communities through increased decentralization, devolution and federalism. Examples include diversity accommodation and decentralization of power in South Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia and to a varying degree in Sudan and Uganda. This has created a feeling of ownership and accountability in the social development process. This trend needs to be deepened to ensure local authorities have the power and the capabilities for designing and implementing of the national development plan, and eventually to create an ultimate desire among the people for further development. Despite being sometimes violent and most often uncompetitive, the IGAD region has witnessed surge of regular elections. Examples include Djibouti (2013), Uganda (2010), Kenya (2007), and Ethiopia (2005).  This is a significant success and a trend that should be upheld.

The region has also registered progresses in other sectors that could serve as enablers to IGAD as a region and institution to address threats to peace and security. Fastest growing countries, surge in middle class, overall improvement in all sectors including social development and gender, infrastructure-led integrative opportunities, the increasing importance of borderlands, are some of these progresses. With the current promising economic development and overall improvement in governance, there will be an increase in income, and an emerging middle class. Annually, 2% of the youth will be connected via mobile telephones and the Internet, adding millions of the region’s inhabitants to the more technologically conversant and connected generations.

Nevertheless, with such positive mega trends, there are also negative developments, that might portend a more negative scenario in the region. By 2050, the population of IGAD will be 400 million; a substantial increase from today’s 230 million. More than 55 per cent of this population will then be at a relatively young age (below 20 years). With an increasingly highly connected, conversant, mobile and vocal but unemployed young population, social unrest could unfortunately outpace reform. The shortage of fresh water, gaps between supply and demand for energy and electricity, and a widening income gap, associated social unrest may increase vulnerabilities of communities to extremists’ ideologies, international crime and transnational threats. Access to land and water remains one of the security and development concerns prevailing in the IGAD region particularly because of cultural, ethnic and economic undertones. With an ever increasing population and the urge for families to secure land, conflicts over land create tensions in communities. While violence could become increasingly localized, its impact will be global with transnational implications such as organized crime in the form of drug trafficking, human trafficking and resultant displacement of populations. Despite limited research, reports indicate that terrorism is also being increasingly funded by drug trafficking, poaching and human trafficking, using these routes. With fast growing aviation, road, maritime and railway transportation services, and expanding aviation traffic to and from the region, drug trafficking can certainly be expected to increase. With the surge of economic growth in the IGAD region, business transactions, foreign investment, transfers of remittances, passenger and freight volumes and the speed of air and other transportation, the region is increasingly becoming vulnerable to money laundering, drug trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing and other trans-national financial criminal acts. With the development of cities that will increasingly prove difficult to govern and provide with basic services the surge in the income gap, associated social unrest and criminal activities may increase. With more extractive exploration and exploitation of natural resources in once neglected borderlands, more localized conflicts over land use may also increase. The peripheries may become centres of oil and mineral exploration and exploitation thus intensification of tension and conflicts between the traditional centres and peripheries of African states may take place.

The progress made so far are the result of reforms in economic and governance sectors. For further accelerated progress, deficit in governance remains the paramount challenge. Almost all protracted and complicated problems in the IGAD region relate to an absence of legitimacy either due to unpopular governance and lack of public and institutional depth in the accommodation to diversity, or the lack of capacity and political will to deliver public goods. As diversified, more connected and more vocal generations join the electorate, and, contestations during voting may become source of violence and further conflicts. The nature of the states, nature of domestic social and political forces including political parties at national and sub-national level, and the nature of international and regional crises and interventions also significantly affect the peace and security of the IGAD region.

Gender Affairs (GA) Sector

Despite disparities among MSs, the IGAD region hosts deeply patrilineal and patriarchal cultural societies. There are pervasive gender inequalities in various dimensions, including access to education, information, employment, credit, land, policy inputs, and decision-making power. The economic, social and political status of women is relatively lower than that of their male counterparts. These inequalities reflect female disadvantage and have in the past been viewed as either human rights or social policy issues with little impact on overall economic performance.   In recognition of these facts and the need to improve the status of women, the Gender Policies of MSs aim at promoting gender equality and empowering women. A unique feature of economies in the IGAD region is that both women and men play considerable economic roles. Gender is a critical economic issue and not only a social equity or human rights concern. Agriculture is the primary source of employment for men and women, with women providing a higher proportion of the labour force, despite country specific or sub-sectoral production variations. In most IGAD Member States, women and men are not equally distributed across the productive economy: agriculture is a female-intensive sector while industry and services are male-dominated.

Moreover, different sectoral growth patterns make diverse demands on female and male labour time usage and have different implications for the gender divisions of income and labour. This is particularly critical in the context of addressing pro-poor, shared or equitable growth and trade expansion in IGAD region, where many trade-oriented sectors (e.g. livestock, horticulture, tea, coffee and cotton) rely on female or male labour. The informal sector dominates the economy of the IGAD region, women take more than half of the informal traders including in the cross-border economy. There are sharp gender inequalities in access to key productive assets including- land, labour, financial services, technology, and inputs; coupled with education and health care. These differences directly or indirectly limit economic growth, productivity, and welfare. Elimination of gender gaps in education alone in Sub Saharan Africa leads o 0.5-0.7 percentage point increase in annual growth rate of per capita GDP. Educational equality may proxy for other types of equality, such as in health care access, access to agricultural inputs and household bargaining power. Intervention in the agriculture, informal economy, and health would take the region far in bringing gender quality.

IGAD Regional Strategy


The IGAD 2021-2025 Strategy sets the strategic framework for priority interventions over the first five year for the implementation of IGAD Vision 2050. It builds on a number of on-going Programmes established to develop resilient ecosystems and economic growth. The programmes include IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI), regional CAADP Compact, Institutional Strengthening Action Programme (ISAP), Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Security, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration, Social Development, Peace and Security, Gender Affairs, and other strategies and policy papers which underpin the IGAD regional programmes. The main intervention areas of this Strategy 2021-2025 are food security, socio-economic development, sustainable utilisation of transboundary resources, and peace and security. Additionally, a number of interventions have been outlined under corporate development services. These intervention areas will enable IGAD to implement the interventions proposed under the respective pillars.


The economic mainstay in the region is based on natural and environmental resources, with agriculture as the bedrock of the regional economy. However, for agriculture to succeed and ensure food security, the environment conditions must be favourable in terms of quality, climatic and sustainable management of natural resources.

Which mean, revitalization and transformation of the agricultural sector is a precondition to achieving high and sustainable growth, reduce poverty and ensure food security within the IGAD region. Food security and nutrition as a priority area continues to receive support from several relevant policies, strategies and related regional frameworks. This goes a long way in supporting Member States efforts towards enhancing production and productivity, and livelihoods of vulnerable segments of the population.

The five-year Strategy lines up cross border framework as the main priority areas in supporting livestock animal husbandry, post-harvest management practices, development of the fisheries sector, harnessing water resources for irrigation, animal and human use; and leveraging the blue and green economies. Improving land governance issues, and restoration of degraded lands through embracing best practices in sustainable natural resource management and utilisation, will not only increase food production, but also build resilience to disasters and climate change variabilities and amplified access to safe green energy. Applied dry land research accompanied with appropriate technology uptake creates additional opportunities of exploiting dry land crops for food and commercial purposes.

Despite IGAD’s considerable economic potential and natural resource endowments, member regions still remain underdeveloped economically. It is against this background that the Strategy builds on the cross border/bilateral initiatives in the areas of livestock trade, transboundary environment and natural resource management programmes, environment and natural resource management and climate change management. Hence, IGAD developed priority interventions that are anchored on the development and harmonisation of policies and strategies related to natural resources and environment management, climate change, disaster risk management, and sustainable natural management and utilization including access to clean energy. This aims at protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss. As a result, ensure a sustainable environment and climate resilient economies and communities. Additional research on climate risk mitigation includes generation and increased availability, access and use of data and information to guide disaster risk management and strengthen disaster preparedness, mitigation and resilience in the IGAD Region. The approaches which have worked so far in harnessing transboundary resources include community participation and application of transboundary protocols for efficient utilization of such resources.


The IGAD region has been recording steady economic growth. If this progresses well, the region has without a doubt the potential to accelerate and drive broader social and human development. New opportunities arising from the digital transformation, the demographic dividend, low-cost renewable energy, the green transition and a low-carbon, blue and circular economy can be a great boost.

Despite this significant progress made in economic growth, the region remains fragile and unstable, and especially vulnerable to shocks occasioned by conflict and insecurity, climate, and economic turbulences. These shocks have a negative impact on the livelihoods of communities in the region and stifle poverty reduction. Integrating social development is a top agenda for IGAD as a way to enhance and sustained long-term growth. In particular, expanding Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes for diverse skills development is critical for expanding mid-cadre level employment and spurring industrialisation.

(i) Social development

When it comes to enhancing the quality of life for communities in member region, towards prosperity, IGAD continues to implement common policies. Those policies are geared towards improving social development and to foster integrated regional mechanisms through the IGAD social development agenda. The strategic interventions areas centre on health, nutrition, education, population policy, migration, employment, social protection, youth, culture and sports. The programmes target youth, children, women and other vulnerable groups.

To complement those initiatives, member States are strongly committed to development programmes that ensure social equality, strengthen education and STI policy frameworks. This will create room for expanded employment opportunities while leveraging culture and sports as part of economic empowerment. Still, there are a number of vulnerable groups including the poor, refugees and displaced persons, and persons with disabilities who require direct intervention. Although these

vulnerable groups have benefitted from social protection programmes integrated into the national delivery systems before, IGAD and other humanitarian agencies have occasionally stepped in to meet the most urgent needs of the affected populations. More importantly, IGAD is committed to entrenching durable solutions for forced displacements with the aid of strengthening early warming mechanisms and facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration.

In improving the social wellbeing and human productivity for inclusive development in the IGAD region, the Strategy envisages to support the efforts of national health authorities in strengthening health systems. A lot of emphasis will go into those health systems that are in cross border areas and refugee settings, while enhancing prevention, control, management and treatment of diseases including compliance of harmonised medical standards and guidelines. The combined effects of these interventions help in providing conditions and human capital for decent employment opportunities and life at large.

(ii) Regional Integration and Cooperation

The central strategic role of IGAD is to promote regional cooperation and integration among its member states with the aim of improving the welfare of all citizens. To achieve this, IGAD works through the two programme areas of trade, industry and tourism, and infrastructure development. In the context of trade, IGAD remains committed to the unification of the region within the continent as well as participating in the global arena. The AfCFTA to which both IGAD and its members are party to potentially offers substantial opportunities for trade, investment and tourism. This complements the opportunities from the multiple and inter and intra- REC market access opportunities that have not been fully utilized across both the IGAD region and the African continent. Exploitation of these opportunities is tied to further harmonisation of the various key business codes. They include synergies in the various master plans, and improved infrastructure connectivity.

The key facilitators towards deepened regional integration include regional policies, industrialization and service development and cross border infrastructure. Others are efficient corridor based regional transport infrastructure with intra/ inter-REC and continental networks (PIDA, HOAI) with global connectivity; clean energy generation and interconnection to facilitate cross border energy trade, ICT terrestrial broad band connectivity, and cyber security infrastructure, institutional arrangements including establishment of truckers and business associations, and innovative funding mechanisms.

The AfCFTA framework on market access is committed to facilitating the expansion of industrial activities, leveraging on the competitiveness of existing transport infrastructure and related services in the region. Further, the complementary regional and continental policies proposed in the CFTA framework on free movement of people, goods, capital, and services stands to diversify the socio-economic base of the continent. The IGAD region stands to benefit from the wider opportunities arising from CFTA, in the form of expanded infrastructure, trade and technological transformation.


Regarded as a pre-requisite to economic development and regional integration; IGAD remains dedicated to enhancing peace and security in the region. The region on the other hand is devoted to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. This is in line with national and global aspirations. IGAD will continue to pursue sustainable peace, security and stability under the various commitments contained in AU Agenda 2063, United Nations’ SDG 2030.

As such, IGAD envisages addressing both the national and regional security threats through Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, strengthening Regional Cooperation and Coordination against existing, evolving and emerging threats. However, transnational security threats call for extra-regional partnerships, either bilateral or multilateral, to handle such forms of insecurity.

To pursue this, a number of priority interventions must be formulated and implemented. They include strengthened data collection, analysis and dissemination capacity for conflict early warning and timely response actions; enhancing IGAD’s capacity for preventive diplomacy, mediation and peace building for sustainable peace, security and stability in the region; assisting Member States emerging out of conflicts to develop and implement Post-conflict peace building strategies and programmes in line with the AU PCRD policy framework; strengthen the predictive, preventive, responsive, and adaptive capabilities of IGAD and member states to address

transnational security threats; and promote IGAD’s engagement in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden towards better cooperation and collective actions. The successes of these interventions depend on capacity building at both IGAD Secretariat and among member states to manage the different forms of security threats.


The key enabler for IGAD regional integration is the set of Corporate Services. They enable IGAD to deliver its mandate of regional cooperation and integration effectively and efficiently. The services are cross-cutting in nature and support the delivery of IGAD’s programmes and projects at the regional and national levels. These include information and communication technology, human resources development systems, financial and accounting systems, budget and reporting systems, risk management and auditing systems, legal system, quality assurances and standard procedures, procurement system, communication and knowledge management systems and lastly planning, monitoring and evaluation systems. IGAD also needs to harmonize her policies and procedures on various cross cutting issues such as gender, staff welfare, safety and health.

In order to accelerate its delivery mechanisms, IGAD has undergone significant institutional reforms that have resulted in increased staff capacity, and improved management systems and procedures. However, there is need for continuous improvement in key internal systems and processes. This is informed by the change in the business environment and the desire to ensure value addition through improved organizational performance benefitting key stakeholders as well as maintaining relevance in the region and beyond.

Key highlights in the next 5 years shall include among others, refinement of the existing systems and processes, integration of existing systems and implementation of new processes, communication and digitalisation. The interventions will narrow down to establishment of effective, efficient and responsive systems and business processes that are adoptable and that comply with the institutional policies, national and regional statistical systems, regulations and international standards; as well as increased availability and access to information. Fragmenting the goals further will ensure evidence-based decision-making, M&E; enhanced organizational performance and operational efficiency and effectiveness of the different programme areas. Also, partnership and synergy in common programme areas will be enablers for maximum benefits to the stakeholders. Concurrently, corporate services also ensure institutional governance mechanisms of accountability.

The Office of the IGAD Executive Secretary (ES) is well regarded and highly placed in the hierarchy of the regional organization. According to the Agreement Establishing IGAD (the Agreement), the holder of this office is described as the chief executive officer of the organization and acts as its bona fide spokesman.

Indeed, Article 3 of the Agreement points out, in part that IGAD shall, in the exercise of its legal personality, be represented by the ES. He shall act in the aforementioned capacities and perform “such other functions as are entrusted” to him by the Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, and the Council of Ministers as clearly stipulated in the terms of reference.

The Agreement further empowers the ES to “bring to the attention of the Summit and Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of regional peace and security”. In addition, the Agreement also defines the powers of the office and grants its occupant considerable scope for action.

The day-to-day work of the ES includes managing the daily affairs of the IGAD Secretariat, consulting with government officials of IGAD Member States and representatives of development partners, as well as representing IGAD at various international and regional forums. One of the most critical roles that he plays using his office and authority is to prevent regional disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. This is often done publicly and in private, drawing upon his independence, impartiality and integrity. Furthermore, the ES is charged with the responsibility of advocating and building the image of the organization and the region. The office bearer travels worldwide to mobilize necessary resources to run the organization’s programmes and to keep the leadership and the people of the region informed about the vast array of issues of concern that are on the organization’s agenda at any given time.

Each year, the ES produces a detailed annual report that documents results of its activities/projects and programmes and outlines future priorities.

Hence, the overall duties and responsibilities of the office bearer can be summed up to include, providing strategic leadership within the mandate of IGAD, as well as to the senior management team and staff so as to build and sustain the organization’s role as a key regional player in peace and security, economic cooperation and integration, trade and development activities.

The current ES, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu is the sixth since the organization was established in 1986. A national of Ethiopia, he took over from Amb. Mahboub Maalim in November 2019.