Switzerland’s support to the region of Southern Africa covers the 16 member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It focuses on food security with climate change adaptation dimensions and HIV/AIDS in the whole region. For the implementation of its projects, Switzerland works with regional partners with capacities to implement at national and regional levels in order to foster regional dynamics and ownership and to promote the sustainable development of these countries.
Swiss Development Cooperation in Southern Africa
After decades of conflict, the region of Southern Africa has become politically more stable, with socio-economic indicators showing an upward trend. However, inequalities remain very pronounced which fuels violence and insecurity and leaves cohorts of vulnerable people struggling to survive in a difficult environment aggravated by climate change and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Improving governance remains one of the big challenges, particularly in countries rich in natural resources. Several SADC countries are showing symptoms of state fragility. Stability and the reduction of discrimination and in equalities are important development targets for the years to come.
History of Swiss support in Southern Africa
Swiss support to the region started in 1994 in South Africa and has since developed into a regional programme covering all 16 SADC Member States. Integrated in the Embassy in Harare, the Swiss Cooperation Office works closely with other embassies in the region i.e. Pretoria, Nairobi, Maputo and Dar es Salam. In line with SADC priorities, the areas of intervention of Switzerland’s 2018-2022 development strategy are food security and HIV/AIDS with a specific focus on youth employment. In Zimbabwe, special activities in the areas of water supplies and sanitation, as well as the protection of vulnerable groups have been developed in the wake of the humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding since 2008.
Food security: improved seed for a better livelihood
Switzerland is supporting smallholder farmers with several projects focusing on harmonising seed laws to facilitate cross-border exchanges, better access to markets, improved seed quality, and adaptation to climate change. This support strengthens the capacity of farmers to deal with natural disasters and food crisis as well as to participate in the development of new policies.
The SDC supports the development of improved open pollinating maize varieties, and with the increased availability of high-quality seed, contributes to ensuring better access to safe and adequate food. In 2017, the diversity of seed crops was enhanced through the registration of thirteen new crop varieties in addition to maize varieties in the SADC regional variety catalogue. These registered crops can now be traded amongst SADC countries without restrictions. At local level, smallholder farmers are beginning to diversify their commercial seed production to include cowpeas and sugar beans, while for the informal seed sector some households have increased diversity of seeds produced from 8 to 14 traditional varieties of cereals, legumes, pumpkins, and vegetables.
HIV/AIDS: prevention, care and support to reduce vulnerabilities
Focusing on prevention activities with regional partners, Switzerland helps to develop new health policies to address the needs of adolescents and children and to improve knowledge on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and on sexual and reproductive health. It is also engaged in increasing access for these young people to psychosocial and material care and specific treatment.
2016 and 2017 were years of policy successes. The Minimum Standards for the Integration of HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health, the SADC Harmonized Policy Framework on Care and Support for Teaching and Learning, the HIV, SRH, TB and Malaria Programmes Integration Strategy were finalised and endorsed by SADC Council of Ministers. Another regional milestone was the adoption of the Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage by the SADC Parliamentary Forum which will require member states to harmonize their national laws to prevent child marriages.
Transversal themes: governance and gender
Governance: Switzerland aims to enhance the equitable and accountable allocation and use of public resources, mainly by promoting a stronger voice for civil society.
Gender: Swiss promotes gender equality and its support focuses on the role of women farmers and on their specific tasks, needs and responsibilities. In the area of HIV/AIDS, Switzerland strives to improve the response to the needs of women and girls, who are considered to be the most vulnerable social group.
- Swiss NGOs: Swiss Aids Care International, Swisscontact, Pro Helvetia
- SADC Secretariat (Gaborone/Botswana)
- Relevant ministries of SADC member countries
- International, national, local NGOs: Southern Africa Aids Trust, Media in Education Trust Africa, Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative, GRM International, VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) and others
- International organisations: UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), World Food Program (WFP), ICRC, IOM, African Development Bank (ADB), World Bank