Swiss aid agency sets out its priorities

The SDC gives aid in times of crisis, here a delivery of humanitarian aid set for Nepal, after an earthquake there in 2015 Keystone

The Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) will focus its work over the next four years on education, fragile regions, and migration, but its director has played down expectations that development aid can stem the tide of migrants coming to Europe.

This content was published on January 28, 2017 - 13:00 and agencies/ilj

Parliament adopted a dispatchExternal link on International Cooperation 2017-2020 during its autumn session last year, which the SDC is now implementingExternal link, SDC director general Manuel Sager said at a press conference in Bern on Friday.

In terms of migration, parliament had called for development aid to be more closely linked to migration policy.

There have been some expectations among some politicians that the SDC’s activities could help reduce the number of migrants.

Cited on Swiss public television RTSExternal link, Sager said that this type of aid does not solve all the problems. “International cooperation has certainly some effect but it can’t, nor will it, stop migration. Migration has always taken place, but we work on the causes of forced migration.”

He added that an engagement in fragile countries - such as the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa -and extra funds for education should help curb high migration.

The education strategy encompasses basic education and vocational training and the funds for this will be increased by 50% (CHF210 million -$210 million) for 2017-2020, the SDC said.


Measuring the SDC’s own effectiveness will become increasingly important during the new dispatch period, stressed Sager.

The SDC has been faced with a more than CHF2 billion cut to its budget for 2017 and with that, a demand from parliament to check how efficient its programmes are.  Sager said that he could understand that there needed to be a certain accountability, but that the SDC was subject to very extensive evaluations.

External experts assess more than 100 projects every year. 

The aim of effectiveness measurements, said Chantal Nicod, head of the SDC’s West Africa Division, in a statement, is to draw conclusions from the results and where necessary to adapt projects or programmes. The topic is of central importance for the SDC because it aims to ensure the optimal use of taxpayers' money.

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