Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993, following a 30-year war. After a number of years of socio-economic progress, the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia not only claimed tens of thousands of lives, but also disrupted Eritrea's economic and political development momentum. EU development cooperation in Eritrea strives to improve the living conditions of the people and to support a drive for reforms.
The majority of EU development funding to Eritrea is financed by the European Development Fund with the objective of promoting activities for the direct benefit of the population with tangible results, such as the creation of job opportunities and the improvement of living conditions in the country.
The cycle of 2016-2020 amounts to €200 million. It will focus on energy and governance. An improved energy sector should help to improve access to social services, offer better opportunities for economic development and support the development of agriculture. Governance actions focus on one hand on economic governance and on the other hand the implementation of agreed recommendations of the UN Universal periodic reviews.
Under the previous cycle of funding from 2009-2013, the EU dedicated €53.7 million to programmes in Eritrea, targeting mainly the focal sector of food security and rural development. One particular project of €40 million euros focused on agriculture with an emphasis on energy, to develop irrigated agriculture and reinforce food security. For instance, as shown in the picture above, where better access to energy is helping to support a milk cooling station, milk quality is improved with a limited risk of diseases, and it can be kept fresh for longer. This creates an impact on food security as well as the quality of nutrition.
Furthermore, Eritrea can be the beneficiary of actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, in particular related to the improvement of economic opportunities for youth through training and employment generation, as well as support for migration management.
Additional support to Eritrea is channelled through other EU initiatives, in particular the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and Energy Facility. For example, an 8 million euros solar energy programme will support the creation of mini grids, providing electricity in remote areas and therefore supporting the development of social services and economic activities.