The new bilateral cooperation programme, running from 2023 to 2026 is worth over US$60 million to support Zimbabwe in several sectors.
The new programme announced by Swiss Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi Stéphane Rey during the event dubbed “Swiss Night in Zimbabwe” will support improved food security, access to opportunities and higher incomes, access to primary health, social protection and disaster risk reduction and work on increasing the accountability and participation of civil society and state institutions in governance issues.
The bilateral support will also leverage the private sector’s expertise to confront the various challenges facing Zimbabwe, including generating inclusive economic growth and combating climate change.
Ambassador Rey said under new bilateral Cooperation Programme, Switzerland will specifically provide support to addressing key challenges faced by smallholder farmers especially in accessing markets and better incomes, focusing on value chains of selected climate-resilient and nutritious crops that have the potential to benefit women and youth.
“Prominence will be placed on strengthening interlinkages between rural, peri-urban and urban areas. In the health sector, Swiss support will broaden its scope by emphasizing the delivery of a wider array of quality services in an integrated manner and by giving greater attention to the ability of the health care system to deliver services,” said Ambassador Rey.
Further, he stated that the programme would strengthen democratic governance and human rights, in line with the Guidelines on Human Rights 2021–2024.
“Switzerland will support selected national and local-level government entities and independent oversight institutions to deliver on their mandates in an accountable manner and in respect of human rights.”
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will implement the programme which is aligned with the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1, 2021-2025 of Zimbabwe, integrating the new challenges presented by climate change, youth unemployment and support Zimbabwe’s efforts to build a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient economy by 2030.
The programme will also support the development of the arts and culture sector in Zimbabwe, working with both established and upcoming artists.
“The launch of the new Cooperation Programme underscores both our countries’ commitment to a partnership that has grown strong and deep over the past forty-plus years,” said Ambassador Rey.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Acting Chief Director of Political Affairs, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe, Ambassador Ruth Chikwira thanked Switzerland for the new cooperation programme and the intention to alleviate poverty among the vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe.
“We fully welcome this development and note how Switzerland’s support is significantly contributing to poverty alleviation and the empowerment of youth and women,” said Ambassador Chikwira.
Ambassador Chikwira also urged Switzerland going forward to consider implementing government-to-government development cooperation.
“As Switzerland scales up its development cooperation activities in the country, it is our sincere hope that there will be gravitation towards full-scale Government-to-Government development cooperation,” said Ambassador Chikwira.
Zimbabwe and Switzerland established diplomatic relations in 1980, and the Swiss Government development cooperation programme started in 1994 in the context of a regional programme. By the end of 2022, Switzerland had contributed more than US$100 million to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development agenda.
In line with the rapid changes in the development sector over the past few years, Switzerland continues to adjust its development cooperation programmes. Over the last years, Switzerland through its development cooperation has contributed to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and employment among young people and the promotion of food security among poor and vulnerable households.
It also worked with Zimbabwe’s government, Parliament, civil society, churches and private sector to promote peace and democracy. Support has also been provided to the country’s efforts in aligning its laws to the Constitution; dealing with the past; developing capacity in negotiation and mediation and conducting inclusive dialogue among different stakeholders.