The Greater Horn of Africa’s (GHoA) borders and borderlands are spaces of cooperation and linkage—marked by centuries of cross-border trade and extensive kinship and social ties—that defy political demarcation and control. Borders and borderlands share numerous security and development challenges, including conflict, crime, trafficking and political and economic contestations. Even though the contested nature of ‘borders’ highlights a stark geographical divide between government policy makers in state capitals and borderland communities, there is increasing evidence of the opportunities that borderlands present. As attention to borders in the GHoA increases, both from governments and external stakeholders, there is a need to identify the key lessons learned from interventions and initiatives in the borderlands.
In order to shift paradigms and focus on borders as bridges rather than barriers, Pact, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) – Danish Demining Group (DDG), the Life & Peace Institute (LPI) and the Rift Valley Institute (RVI) hosted the ‘Greater Horn of Africa Cross-Border Learning Conference’ on 25 and 26 February 2019. The main objectives of this event were to elevate the voices of communities directly affected by borderland policies and to examine borderlands programming through cross-border and ‘community-centred’ approaches.