International donors pledged $8 billion in development aid Monday for projects across eight countries in the Horn of Africa, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon announced at the start of a visit to the region.
The aid, from organizations including the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), European Union and Islamic Development Bank (IDB), will support efforts to boost economies and stem conflict and hunger across the volatile region.
Countries targeted are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.
“The countries of the Horn of Africa are making important yet unheralded progress in economic growth and political stability,” Ban said in a statement.
“Now is a crucial moment to support those efforts, end the cycles of conflict and poverty, and move from fragility to sustainability.”
Ban, who begins his Horn of Africa trip in Ethiopia Monday, is due to travel onwards to neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, leading a delegation from six other international organizations.
Alongside Ban is World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and officials from the African Union, EU, the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) bloc of nations, as well as the AfDB and IDB.
Projects include support for oil pipelines and improving transport links, as well as boosting education and internet access.
Aid will also aim to increase cross-border trade, and boost economic growth in a region struggling with rampant unemployment as well as millions of people forced from their homes by war or hunger.
“This new financing represents a major new opportunity for the people of the Horn of Africa to make sure they get access to clean water, nutritious food, health care, education, and jobs,” World Bank chief Kim said.
“There is greater opportunity now for the Horn of Africa to break free from its cycles of drought, food insecurity, water insecurity, and conflict.”
While in Nairobi, Ban will also launch a global campaign to end female genital mutilation.
This is the third trip that Ban has undertaken with the World Bank and other organizations, following visits to the Sahel and Great Lakes regions last year.
The visit comes amid efforts to end fighting in South Sudan that has sent nearly half a million refugees fleeing into neighboring countries.