Djibouti is a small, strategically located, lower middle-income, East-African country with high poverty levels despite its 7% annual growth rate and its position of middle income country, lower tranche. It has a predominantly service-based economy around its international port's activities and port-related infrastructure. Its agricultural and industrial sectors are not well developed. However, its geographical situation at the tip of the Horn of Africa at the entrance to the Red Sea, its harbors and free zones play an important role throughout the whole region.
Thanks to its stability and location, Djibouti hosts both military bases and EU operations such as ATALANTA which protectis maritime trade routes. It is also the center of humanitarian interventions which assist the population of neighboring states (Yemen, Somalia, etc.), migrants and refugees that account up to 15% of the population of around one million.
Through its development cooperation policy, with an expenditure of around €24 million/year on average, the EU is supporting Djibouti in 4 different areas:
- Provision of drinking water and improved hygiene conditions
- Promotion of socio-economic development, including food security
- Support to vulnerable groups on the basis of human rights
- Building capacity of the Djiboutian administration
Most of the development cooperation with Djibouti is financed by the European Development Fund (EDF).
An initial allocation of €105 million is available for the 2014-2020 period under the National Indicative Programme of the 11th EDF. The main focus is on:
1. Water and Solid and Liquid Waste Treatment: To improve access to safe drinking water (production, distribution) suitable for human consumption to meet the daily needs of the population but also to allow the development of economic activities in the country, crucial for job creation, - develop sanitation systems.
2. Food Security: the main goal is to promote food security in Djibouti, through support to rural economic development in the interior regions. EU projects aim to improve economic opportunities in the regions by supporting the creation of income-generating activities and by increasing productivity in the primary sector. However, given the prevalence of malnutrition (30%) nationally, these efforts might be combined with food aid interventions and safety nets.
Besides the above priorities, new programmes different policy areas will soon be launched:
- Empowerment of women and girls aiming at the full implementation of the National Gender Equality Policy in peri-urban areas around Djibouti city and rural areas.
- In the area of socio-economic development, the EU will support the development of SMEs Incubator. The capacities of the local entrepreneurs will be enhanced. Supporting start-ups' financial structure through grant transfers will also be channeled through this project. The expected results include the creation of 20 companies/year. Along this line, the EU is providing training on port related activities aiming also at creating jobs, according to the estimates the sector's potential is 11700 new jobs.
A civil society project has also been launched to improve the culture of democracy and dialogue through more effective participation of civil society organisations and the private sector in the political, economic and social life of the country.
The EU is also supporting decentralisation, governance and local development in line with the government’s policy to reduce poverty within the country by developing Djibouti’s 5 regions.
Finally, several projects are tackling migration, assisting refugees, and migrants including children and women as well as the hosting populations where they transit or settle.
- EU support to Djibouti in the provision of drinking water and the improvement hygiene conditions materialised with the inauguration in 2014 of the underground landfill site and a wastewater treatment plant.
- It continued with the installation of water waste infrastructures in the biggest quarter of the city. The most important initiative in this field is the drinking water production facility that once it reaches its full capacity, should be able to provide water to 2/3 of the capital's population.
- Access to water is the necessary condition of livelihood in rural areas. Through projects covering the five provinces, the EU works to offer a better access to water for vulnerable population particularly in rural areas since 2014, in a context of severe drought (2016) and worsening of life conditions due to climate change. The construction of 42 infrastructures: wells, forages, middle-size dams, etc., aims at mitigating this problem.
- The EU has also promoted socio-economic development, and in order to provide affordable energy to Djiboutians, a strengthened electric interconnection with Ethiopia was financed. Along this line, and in order to foster internal and external trade, the EU supported the construction of parts of the road N1 that links Djibouti city with Ethiopia finished in 2016, and the EU NAVFOR ATALANTA operation which provides security to trade maritime routes leading also to Djibouti.
- Training and capacity building were also delivered to over 17 000 people living in the countryside in order to make their modest exploitations and their agricultural cooperatives more productive, thus improving their food security.
- In terms of social development and human rights, the EU has organised trainings that resulted in new jobs for disabled people and launched several projects for the protection of women rights including violence and female genital mutilation also within the refugees' communities.