Subregional Office


 for Eastern Africa (SFE)



Multidisciplinary Activities


The Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE) covers the following eight countries -  Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. The total area covered by the sub-region is 5,144,288 Km2 with a population of 200 million habitants. The population density varies from less than 50 persons /km2 in Sudan and Somalia to more than 300 persons/km2 in Rwanda. (Figure 1). However the highland areas in all the countries in the sub-region have high population density where intensive farming systems are practised, while the lowlands have extensive agro-pastoral systems.

Key Challenges in the Sub-region

The major challenges in the sub-region are related to: (i) small scale subsistence production (ii) the relatively high degree of dependence on food aid; (iii) the low level of the sub-region agricultural production for specific commodities and policy orientation toward modernization of agriculture; (iv) the severity of natural resources degradation (Figure 2); and (v) the need for capacity building particularly in post conflicts countries.

In the framework of supporting the modernization of agriculture combined with sound natural resources and environment management, the team has planned to focus its future multidisciplinary activities on: “Modernization of value chains of livestock, crops, fish and forest products in the highlands” in the highly productive areas, while in the low potential areas (lowlands) the focus is on “Assessment of enabling environments for trade of livestock, livestock products and fishery” with focus on value adding, certification and quality assurance.

The sub regional officers are working from multidisciplinary perspective in the following domains to address the above challenges.

Policy Support, Investment, Agri-business and Value Chain Development and Food Security

The focus of the sub-region on policy support, investment, marketing and agro-industry development is to enhance livelihoods, rural incomes and employment through promotion of market oriented production, value addition and marketing at the national, regional and global level. This includes support to member countries to develop policies, strategies and programmes to enhance agricultural competitiveness programmes and address food security.

Activities undertaken recently are:

  • Technical support in the implementation of agribusiness development including value chain development, marketing and entrepreneurship through support to capacity building in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Kenya;
  • Policy support to increased agricultural competitiveness of the sub-region’s leading commodities through studies on best practices including support towards an African Common Market on the basic food crops, development of enhanced marketing strategies in collaboration with AU, ECA and RECs (IGAD, COMESA);
  • Collaboration on studies to identify strategies focusing on high-value commodities and enterprises, with high potential for enhancing food security and reduce poverty for the high potential areas in the Sub-region;
  • Establishing communication contacts with bilateral and multilateral agencies – USAID, DfID, SIDA, CIDA, NORAD, JICA, Italian Development Cooperation, GTZ, IFIs (WB, AfDB) EU;
  • Supporting and formulation of projects related to marketing development, Avian and Human Influenza, Livelihood Development and Drought Preparedness;
  • Initiated collaboration with other UN Agencies based in Ethiopia including UNIDO, WFP, ILO, UNDP and ECA in policy development and implementation in marketing, value addition, rural roads and market infrastructure;
  • Collaborating with UNIDO and the Ministry of Trade in Ethiopia in the preparation of an Agro-industry Master Plan and development of a commercial livestock strategy in Ethiopia.
  • Technical collaboration in the preparation of National Medium Term Priority Framework (NMTPF) in Kenya and Sudan.
  • Participation in teams to assist governments in the identification and preparation of investment projects in agriculture in Sudan
  • Participation in various platforms dealing with food security issues in Ethiopia with a view to developing and implementing a standardized food security and humanitarian classification for policy decisions; and 
  • Development of an intervention strategy for the FAO Emergency Coordination Unit in the pastoral areas at central and regional levels of Ethiopia.

Land, Forests and Natural Resources Management

A multidisciplinary approach is being used to address the major challenges in this domain for the sub-region. The technical support provided are related to the conservation and development of agro-ecosystems functions and environmental services, the promotion of sustainable management and use of land, water, forests and genetic resources to strengthen agricultural systems, awareness raising for policy makers in the areas of climate change impacts and opportunities for carbon trade, land and forests biodiversity, land tenure and bio energy.

Activities undertaken recently:

  • Policy support and advice for better land care and natural resources management in Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. Active technical support to the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Platform and the formulation of the Ethiopia Strategic Investment Framework for SLM;
  • Backstopping of projects on Sustainable Land Management, irrigation, Integrated Watershed development and Forest Policy and Planning within the context of the National Forest Programmes in Ethiopia , Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya;
  • Project formulation in natural resources management and land tenure for the Kagera basin covering Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania; and the Southern and northern part of Ethiopia
  • Development of forest database and forestry programming in Ethiopia and Uganda; development of database on land degradation and desertification features for the sub-region;
  • Support to the planning and organization of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, to be held in Khartoum in mid-February 2008;
  • Preparation of Studies and papers on climate change, rural-urban linkages, carbon miles and forestry, climate change and impact of Eucalyptus in the sub-region; and 
  • Support to the development of an Emergency- Development linked action Plan for adaptation including adaptation and mitigation of climate change (drought, floods ) impacts on fragile livelihoods and ecosystems.

Crops, Agriculture Development and Food Security

The FAO activity under this domain covers seed security, a rolling Global Plan of Action for the conservation and sustainable use of Plant Genetic Resources for Agriculture (PGRFA), biosecurity in relation to the spread of plant pests and weeds including International Standards for Phytosanitary measures. It also includes reduction of risks of pesticide use to the human health and the environment and ecological approaches to achieve sustainable intensification of crop and grassland production and diversification opportunities.

Activities undertaken recently:

  • Links with key stakeholders in most SFE countries have been strengthened.
  • Technical support to East African Countries in the areas of seed production and policy, EMPRES Desert Locust component, IPM, invasive species and pest risk analysis, biodiversity and bio-security, international conventions and agreements such as the IPPC, the Rotterdam Convention, and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Agriculture (IT-PGRFA).
  • Backstopping of projects/programmes related to the implementation of the IPPC and the strengthening of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Somalia; the EMPRES Desert Locust networks in East Africa; the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention in Ethiopia and Kenya; the Cactus pear and horticultural crops production in Tigray, Ethiopia and Feasibility study to revitalize Kenya’s coffee industry.
  • Projects Formulation addressing the Control, Management and Utilization of Prosopis; the improvement of Date Palm Production, Biopesticides production and storage facilities; Integrated Management of pests in major Wheat Producing Regions of Ethiopia, biosecurity in East Africa .

Way Forward

The Multi-disciplinary team has been very active in the past months in gathering relevant information and addressing key challenges of the sub-region. The technical support provided range from policy advice to investment project formulation and backstopping in various domains through a multidisciplinary approach. Capacity building and partnership development through one UN perspective have also been key areas of active involvement of the Multidisciplinary Team.

The team is committed to work at its best in assisting countries in their efforts to combat desertification, to increase agricultural production through modernization of agriculture, to conserve and benefit from the natural resources based and adapt and mitigate climate change impacts, and reduce level of food aid.