Swiss International Cooperation – Annual Report 2020
«Covid-19 posed enormous challenges for international cooperation as well in 2020. Switzerland responded swiftly and flexibly to the crisis to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and its serious social, economic and humanitarian consequences. We adapted many existing programmes and committed additional funds to new global partnerships. Because we can only cope with a pandemic of this magnitude if we work together.»
Ambassador, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Overcoming global challenges
Managing crises, disasters and fragility
Resources and services for all
Promoting sustainable economic growth
Strengthening the rule of law, democracy and institutions
Promoting human rights and basic freedoms
Achieving gender equality
Migration in focus
Effectiveness in focus
A global response to Covid-19 built on solidarity
At the end of September 2020, the diagnostics pillar announced the approval of two new rapid tests that will be provided exclusively to low-income countries at a lower price. The vaccine pillar secured 500 million doses from various pharmaceutical companies at the end of 2020. This is expected to allow 92 low-income countries to receive Covid-19 vaccines.
Tanzania: encouraging youth participation through the media
Funded by Switzerland and realised by BBC Media Action, it aims to provide relevant information to help young people learn more about their rights and responsibilities. The project aims to build their confidence so that they get involved in their communities and in decision-making processes.
«I have learned a lot from Niambie. I now know that I can be politically active and express my opinions as a young woman. On the Niambie Facebook page, I can also discuss everyday issues with other young people in Tanzania.»
Zainab Juma Kabelengwa
Dar es Salaam
Website of the SDC: Tanzania
Website of the SDC: good governance
Listen to the latest Niambie broadcast (in Swahili)
Follow Niambie on Facebook
Multilateral action to combat poverty
Both funds provide the poorest developing countries with low-interest loans, grants and technical assistance. These fight poverty, promote sustainable development and help address the health-related, social and economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis.
The development banks are also important partners of developing countries for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. The World Bank and the African Development Bank quickly approved emergency relief packages of USD 14 billion and USD 10 billion, respectively, in 2020. These bolstered healthcare systems and provided emergency loans to companies to protect jobs.
The World Bank's Covid-19 programme in Madagascar, for instance, aims to mitigate the immediate impact of the pandemic and help rebuild a stronger and more resilient economy. This includes, for example, simplified procedures for opening electronic accounts. These facilitate payments to vulnerable communities.
Art and culture creating space for dialogue
Through collective projects, music and poetry – in short, through art! In workshops, for example, young women have been learning how to tell their own stories about their homeland in short films. The workshops are an opportunity to reflect on the identity of their home country, which helps to create meaning as well as address taboo topics. Like here in North Africa, Switzerland often supports cultural projects that promote development, peacebuilding and diversity of values.
Art and culture are suppressed in many regions of the world and even run the risk of being instrumentalised. But these regions are the very places where they have great potential for creating dialogue. That is why exchange and mutual learning across borders and disciplines are so crucial. And this is where the international conference Art at Risk, organised by the Artas Foundation in cooperation with Switzerland and Zurich University of the Arts, came into play in February 2020.
UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
Switzerland in international comparison ODA 2020
In terms of financial volume, the largest donors are the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and France. Switzerland take the 11th place in absolute numbers.
Composition and evolution of Swiss ODA from 2004 to 2020
The target set by the Parliament of an ODA/GNI rate of 0.5% has been reached by 2015 thanks to the growth of the means granted to international cooperation. ODA decreased after 2016 due to falling asylum costs and savings measures in international cooperation credits. In connection with the Covid-19 supplementary credit, ODA shows an increase in 2020. Its share of GNI is 0.48%.
Composition and evolution of multilateral ODA of Switzerland from 2004 to 2019
During the last fitfeen years, Switzerland's share of multilateral ODA remained relatively stable, between 20% and 25% of total ODA.
Contributions to international non-governmental organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), are considered bilateral ODA and therefore do not appear in this table.
Europe, North Africa and the Middle East
In North Africa, projects focus on democratic transition and human rights, sustainable and inclusive economic development and employment, and migration and protection.
In the Middle East, SDC is working to provide protection and basic services for refugees and others in need, and to ensure sustainable water management.
The focus of development cooperation is on the access of poor people to basic social services (health, education), infrastructure (water), employment and income, and sustainable growth.
The Humanitarian Aid department implements programmes in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Central Africa and Southern Africa. It is active in various areas such as strengthening resilience to the effects of drought, protecting civilians in armed conflicts, food security, access to water and sanitation.
Switzerland's international cooperation in East and South Asia focuses on countries and regions with persistently high multidimensional poverty rates, for example in terms of income, lack of security, limited access to services, chronic malnutrition, vulnerability to ecological and economic shocks, and social and ethnic discrimination of large population groups.
In Peru, SECO’s main areas of support are the development of economic institutions, private sector competitiveness and access to basic public services. In Columbia, where certain areas continue to be heavily impacted by the presence of organized armed groups and organized crime, SECO is working to create better economic prospects, thereby also contributing to lasting peace.
SDC Cooperation with Eastern Europe
SECO Development and economic cooperation by objective
SDC South and Global Cooperation
Bilateral expenditures by region
SECO is more active in middle-income countries. Transition assistance in Eastern countries accounts for almost one-third of 2020 expenditure. The share for Africa and the Middle East has increased to one third of total expenditure.
Distribution and evolution of SDC expenditures
Between 2016 and 2018, the international cooperation credits have been impacted by budgets cuts decided by the Federal Council and approved by the Parliament.
The 2020 increase is related to the additional credit approved by Parliament to support international efforts to mitigate the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. This includes the loan to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of CHF 200 million.
Distribution and evolution of SECO expenditures
Between 2016 and 2018, the resources have gradually decreased as a result of the Confederation's economic measures which particularly affected the credits of international cooperation.
Covid-19: Switzerland strengthens international cooperation
Switzerland's work has also included its support for the Geneva-based Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND). This foundation promotes research efforts towards developing new rapid tests to detect the Covid-19 pathogen. It also contributes to their distribution in the Global South.
Ukraine: More transparency and less corruption thanks to e-governance
To tackle these problems, Switzerland has been supporting a project in the field of e-governance since 2015.
Hygiene as disease prevention
To raise awareness of Covid-19 and counteract rumours, Terre des Hommes launched a campaign with mobile teams and the National Centre for Information, Education and Communication for Health. They produced and distributed posters spreading the campaign's official messages. Local media and traditional town criers joined this work, helping to demonstrate to the population the link between hygiene and the spread of disease.
Coordinator of the Movimiento Ambientalista Social del Sur por la Vida
Launched in 2017 and implemented by the Organismo Cristiano de Desarrollo Integral de Honduras (OCDIH), a Christian organisation for holistic development, the programme relies on a psychosocial approach to reduce levels of violence and social conflict. It provides individualised help, encourages social recognition of trauma and addresses the need to share severe suffering to make it more bearable. The psychosocial approach does not perform solely therapeutic functions – it is also a cornerstone of the peacebuilding process.
It provides individualised help, encourages social recognition of trauma and addresses the need to share severe suffering to make it more bearable. The psychosocial approach does not perform solely therapeutic functions – it is also a cornerstone of the peacebuilding process.
Website of the SDC: Central America (Honduras and Nicaragua)
Website OCDIH (es): Organismo Cristiano de Desarrollo Integral de Honduras
94 tonnes of relief supplies for needy people in Venezuela
Leave No One Behind
The situation is similar for people with disabilities. For example, in this group, eight out of ten adults of working age are excluded from the labour market.
The Leave No One Behind programme helps empower disadvantaged people by improving their access to public services. To date, around 7,000 of them have engaged with local authorities on key issues and around 2,750 people have received quality social services as a direct result.
Beirut explosion: 80 buildings inspected, numerous schools and hospitals repaired
In close cooperation with the city administration and the UN, Swiss experts inspected over 80 public buildings and checked their level of structural integrity.
Gender-based violence, a pandemic to be curbed
In partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Mongolian government, Switzerland is taking measures in the field to strengthen the national capacity to combat gender-based violence. It is supporting the creation of a reliable database to raise awareness of the phenomenon and the implementation of measures to curb such violence.
Social worker in the shelter operated by the National Center Against Violence
«They helped rebuild my life and marriage. Without all the services and therapy, it would have never been possible to have my family all together again. I smile a lot more now than before. I now have faith in my future. With the support of the OSSC team, I found a new me and I feel like I have been reborn.»
Survivor hosted in a One Stop Service Center (OSSC)
Hurricanes in Central America: Switzerland provides emergency aid
GIAR was sent to the isolated villages of the department of Alta Verapaz, where the damage was significant. They provided aid to over 1,700 families, delivering food, clean water, hygiene products and Covid-19 protection kits.
Economic growth thanks to financing opportunities for women entrepreneurs
Wassim Hosny El Metwally
Head of Strategy, Change & Sustainability Management at Banque Misr
Covid-19-related expenditure by SDC & SECO
Covid-19-related SDC & SECO expenditure by region
Covid-19-related expenditure by SECO according to impact goals
Covid-19-related expenditure of SDC's South and Global Cooperation by theme
Covid-19-related expenditure of SDC cooperation with Eastern Europe by theme
Covid-19-related SDC humanitarian aid expenditure by theme
Regional Housing Programme
In order to improve the difficult situation that displaced persons have been in for so many years, the four states decided in 2011 to launch a programme to provide housing solutions in the region.
Comprehensive labour market reforms in Qatar provide better protection for migrant workers
One day she confides in a neighbourhood nanny that she has not been paid for months, works overtime regularly and is being mistreated. Upon arrival, her mobile phone, passport and residence permit were taken from her.
Like Bee, thousands of foreign domestic workers in the Middle East are suffering. They are subject to the Kafala system, which has been in place in the region for some time.
But what does this system entail? Foreign workers are bound to a citizen – usually their employer – in their host country. These citizens sponsor the workers' residence permits. However, insufficient government regulation and a lack of inspections lead to exploitation and undignified living conditions.
Mali: Education put to the test by the Covid-19 pandemic
The pandemic comes on top of the many challenges Mali is already facing because of the security crisis in the region. Young people and children are at greater risk of repeating a school year or dropping out. Switzerland supports the Malian government in its efforts to help children who drop out of school and to improve the quality of its education system by helping local actors to improve the administration of schools.
Schools also provide a protected and safe environment. During health and security crises, children are more vulnerable and more likely to be forcibly conscripted into armed groups. In these conflict zones, Switzerland supports measures to protect and educate children.
With support from Switzerland, educational centres and examination rooms were equipped with hand-washing kits and protective masks.
«The kits arrived at a time when Timbuktu was the epicentre of the disease. Their distribution reassured teachers and students. Today, despite the second wave, Timbuktu has very few cases.»
Mahamadou Moufliha, head of Timbuktu's teachers' resource centre
In addition to these measures, information and awareness-raising messages on precautions to be taken against Covid-19 were broadcast on radio programmes in local languages (Bambara, Fulfulde, Songhay).
Globally, school closures have affected 1.6 billion students in 190 countries. To mitigate the impact of the pandemic on education, in June 2020 Switzerland launched an international call for action. It donated CHF 6 million to the Global Partnership for Education and CHF 2.6 million to the Education Cannot Wait emergency education fund. It is also promoting the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies.
Sustainable energy for displaced people and their host communities
To improve their living conditions and complement humanitarian aid efforts on the ground, Switzerland supports development solutions that can focus on medium-term socio-economic aspects, including energy access. On the one hand, they support the public sector in its investments in energy infrastructure, and on the other, they promote innovative projects from the private sector.
The World Bank's Energy Access Programme for Host Communities and Refugees, supported by Switzerland, assists 15 partner countries in ensuring that all population groups have access to electricity. Its main focus lies on countries in the Sahel, Lake Chad and Horn of Africa regions. The programme promotes cooperation and dialogue among humanitarian actors, development organisations and governments. It collects and analyses data, produces studies and develops scalable solutions that transpose electricity access from short-term humanitarian contexts to long-term development-focused solutions and can be extended to cover other vulnerable communities as well.
Economic stimulus for municipalities in Tunisia
Final report on the implementation of the Dispatch 2017–20
Switzerland supported 8.4 million people in developing countries in emergency situations and helped 1.2 million people to rebuild following natural disasters and armed conflicts. It supported 17 peace processes, including in Colombia and Mozambique. Nine million people, more than half of them women and girls, were given access to basic education and vocational skills development.
- A stronger geographical and thematic focus to increase effectiveness.
- A stronger focus on more cross-sectoral projects to combat the globally felt effects of climate change.
- Targeted use of new technologies and digitalisation.
- Greater flexibility in the use of financial resources to also pursue migration-related cooperation with countries that are not priority countries for Swiss international cooperation.
- Stronger promotion of scientific studies and impact analyses in international cooperation.
Tunisia: improving young people's employment prospects
Carried out by Swisscontact, this programme has developed innovative training components, with a practical approach in line with the needs of the labour market. In addition, the programme emphasises the key role of the private sector. This programme is part of the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment's plan to reform the vocational training system.
The programme's components include 'training companies' (TCs). TCs function like real practice enterprises, except that the flow of goods and money is solely virtual. Unemployed graduates work in a real environment for three months.
Seven TCs were set up and helped over 2,000 unemployed young graduates between 2013 and 2020. The rate of professional integration is 85%.
Ben Jemâa, CEO of the Ben Jemâa group, prefers recruiting through TCs:
«As we operate in the automotive sector, we are very demanding when recruiting. We have seen a difference between the young people recruited via TCs and other first-time job seekers. The former know straight away how to behave in a professional environment.»
«I came out of Elan more confident and more ambitious, which helped me get a good job.»
Former trainee, TC Elan by Connect
This programme also set up training modules certified by the state and the private sector.
Six platforms offering specialised training for jobs in the automotive and energy sectors are operational and train up to 300 young people per year. Thanks to these modules, the young people trained can apply for better paid positions.
Improving opportunities for young people is not only key to achieving social cohesion; it also plays a crucial role in preventing violent extremism.
Website Swisscontact: The Vocational Training Support Programme
Video (fr): Tunisia: vocational training
Video: Network of Training Companies of Tunisia
Disaster risk reduction
Switzerland's contribution to the enlarged EU: reducing inequalities
While 12 of the 13 countries Switzerland has partnered with for its enlargement contribution have now completed their projects, work is still under way in Croatia, the EU's newest member state.
Switzerland is supporting three municipalities in the mountain region of Gorski Kotar in north-western Croatia in the construction and renovation of water infrastructure. Dilapidated pipelines have led to high water losses and there is a lack of sewage treatment plants.
More about the projects
Switzerland also supports young Croatian researchers with a scholarship and international mentoring from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. This allows for testing of what could be an alternative career model for universities. Here, the Evolution in the Dark team led by Dr Helena Bilandžija.
More about the project
The cooperation programme reached its first milestone in 2020 with the completion of its vocational education project. For three years, Switzerland had supported a reform process managed by the Croatian ministry of education.
Six courses of study were adapted as part of the vocational education project. These are now better aligned with real-world practices and the labour market.
All achievements of the enlargement contribution made for Croatia
Better infrastructure in Asian cities
The initiative in Tbilisi was evaluated in 2020 as part of an independent mid-term review of the CDIA Strategy 2018–22. It paves the way for Tbilisi to achieve more sustainable urban mobility. The CDIA is also helping the city build capacity to operate and maintain the new infrastructure sustainably.
Fairtrade helping to cope with the crisis
- In Ghana, a cocoa cooperative informed its members over the radio on how to protect themselves against the virus. Another supplied soap, disinfectant, masks and food.
- In Kenya, a coffee cooperative provided farmers with face masks and handwashing stations.
- In Uganda, a tea plantation held health-focused training courses for its workers. It also paid temporarily lost wages and helped promote food security.
- In Guatemala, a vegetable cooperative provided the employees with medicines and first aid kits.
- In Ecuador, a cooperative obtained, from a more expensive supplier, work materials that had become scarce. This cooperative was thus able to continue supplying bananas.
- In Nicaragua, a coffee cooperative provided cleaning supplies and disinfectant, as well as posters for prevention work.
In Asia, nearly 48,000 people have received assistance:
- In Indonesia, a coffee cooperative paid out CHF 250 to each member to cover lost wages. Members of a coconut cooperative received packages of basic foodstuffs and vegetable seeds.
- In Pakistan, handwashing and disinfecting stations were set up in a company that manufactures sporting goods.
Promotion of sustainable economic development
The majority of farms and processing plants in the agri-food sector are not competitive and its income levels remain low.
As a result of the project's activities, 966 new jobs (10 permanent and 956 seasonal) were created in the early vegetables and plum value chains. In addition, 597 plum and early vegetables farmers increased their income substantially (60-100%) through the sales of plums, tomatoes and sweet peppers. Finally, 136 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises increased their revenue by at least 30%. This ultimately benefits the entire population (over one million people) of the Jalal-Abad region.