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Cooperation Strategy

  • Cooperation Strategy Southern Africa 2013–2016
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South Africa and southern Africa

Website of the Cooperation Office (SDC) Southern Africa: www.swiss-cooperation.admin.ch/southernafrica/

Website of the Cooperation Office (SDC): Angola
SDC’s commitment: Angola

The Southern Africa Regional Programme has been designed to make a contribution to the fight against poverty, to rural development, and to conflict prevention in South Africa and in the member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The idea is to tackle challenges such as governance, HIV/AIDS, and the management of natural resources by utilizing a regional approach.

The SDC Special Programme for South Africa was launched in order to make a contribution to transition to the post-apartheid era with as little social tension and violence as possible. It wound up at the end of 2004 after having flanked the first 10 years of the transition process. Subsequently it was transformed into a Regional Programme Southern Africa (RPSA), while maintaining a South Africa component. The Programme focuses on governance, HIV/AIDS, and food security. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), on the other hand, is active in supporting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The SDC's Regional Programme Southern Africa (RPSA) supports the regional integration strategy (priority on poverty reduction and social justice) of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The Community comprises 15 States with about 200 million inhabitants, of whom some 70% are living below the poverty line: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Mozambique and Tanzania are SDC priority countries, while a special programme is being implemented in Madagascar and humanitarian assistance delivered to Angola and Zimbabwe. The DR Congo is a part of the SDC's Great Lakes Programme.

In addition to its activities within the Regional Programme, Switzerland continues to support bilateral programmes in South Africa on themes such as, for instance, youth unemployment and climate change.

Swiss International Cooperation 2011
mill. CHF
mill. CHF
mill. CHF
Bilateral development cooperation 26.09 30.79 34.44
Humanitarian aid 7.41 7.92 8.04
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
Economic Cooperation and Development 2.84 4.36 5.02
Total SDC/SECO 36.34 43.07 47.50
Other Federal Offices
FDFA Human Security Division and Directorate of International Law 0.04 0.04 0.24
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) 0.04 0.10 0.17
Total other Federal Offices 0.08 0.14 0.41
Cantons and municipalities 0.51 0.94 ..
Total 36.93 44.15 47.91
SDC figures excluding program contributions to Swiss NGOs
.. = figures not available | – = nil or amount < 5'000 CHF

Development Cooperation: Priorities

Since the end of the apartheid regime, SDC has been supporting a cooperation programme with South Africa. With the new Regional Programme Southern Africa (RPSA), the accent has shifted towards regional priorities. In this way, SDC is following the SADC regional, as well as South Africa's own, trend towards regional cooperation, which is also to be observed with other donors in the SADC region. The frame for SDC’s engagement is laid down in the Message to Parliament in which SDC defines its activities as being focused on five thematic priorities, i.e., crisis prevention and management, good governance, income generation and employment, increase of social justice, and sustainable use of natural resources.

The regional approach embodied by the RPSA boasts several advantages:

The regional programme is built around the following three domains of cooperation (with South Africa continuing to be a significant component):

Good governance
The regional programme’s objective is to contribute to building democracy and strengthening the judicial system in the region.

This objective can be attained by:

  • Strengthening formal democracy: supporting election processes and reforms; preparing, observing and monitoring elections; promoting local democracy, supporting dialogue among and within political parties.

  • Promoting democratic culture: civic education aimed at learning the basics of a democratic society and the role of civil society, and heightening the awareness of human rights; supporting conflict resolution in the region and capacity-building for mediation.

  • Citizen-friendly and accountable institutions at central and local level: enhancing government and civil society capacities to monitor governance and its impact on poverty alleviation; promoting knowledge sharing and good practices in the domain of decentralization.

The regional programme’s objective is to support regional efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic by strengthening regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental offices in the domain of prevention and care, while aiming at a more effective strategy and enhancing coordination. Special attention is paid to youth and those most vulnerable.

This objective can be attained by:

  • Supporting regional efforts contributing to psychosocial support for children affected by HIV/AIDS in order to find ways to address the increasing AIDS-orphan crisis.

  • Participating in the development and implementation of regional and national political strategies to ensure that young orphans and vulnerable individuals are taken charge of and kept within the educational system.

  • Supporting regional initiatives for prevention of HIV/AIDS, particularly among the youthful population aged between 10 and 25.

Rural development
The regional programme’s objective is to support cross-border, sustainable management of natural resources so as to improve food security and the income of the rural population.

This objective can be attained through:

  • Food Security, in particular through sufficient access to seed, together with harmonization of policies, access and availability of agricultural inputs, and development of agricultural technologies: disaster prevention and dissemination of information.

  • Trans-border Management of Natural Parks: conservation through tourism benefiting the local population.

The South-Africa component
The regional programme’s objective is to contribute to the consolidation of South Africa’s democracy and to improving the situation of the ailing economy.

Cooperation with South Africa is marked by the end of the SDC's Special Programme (end 2004) and the ”phasing over” towards the Regional Programme Southern Africa (RPSA), which includes a South Africa component. This objective can be attained though:

  • Governance: Support to the reform of the justice system, with a special focus on access to justice for vulnerable groups and local governance/decentralized service-delivery.

  • Youth Unemployment/Skills Development: The Swiss-South African Cooperation Initiative (SSACI), a Public-Private Partnership supported by SDC and Swiss private companies present in South Africa, is providing unemployed youths with opportunities to acquire skills and knowledge that enable them to access the job market.

  • Climate change: South Africa annually produces nine tons of CO2 per capita, accounting for around 50% of the carbon dioxide emitted by the continent as a whole and making it one of the world’s biggest environmental polluters. The SDC is therefore currently conducting a CO2-mitigation programme there. Targeted specifically at the building sector, the programme aims to increase energy efficiency and, in doing so, lower energy consumption. There are plans to expand this regional programme to include other climate-change adaptation programmes in southern Africa.

The following crosscutting issues apply to all domains of the Regional Programme:

The Regional Programme will be managed by the Swiss Cooperation Office Pretoria, supported by a "Cooperative Network" among the SDC Offices in the Southern Africa region. The Pretoria Office has the lead in this network and works in close co-operation with Maputo (Mozambique) and Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), each engaging in policy dialogue, assessment and consultation with potential regional partners in their countries.

Humanitarian Aid: Priorities

The humanitarian situation in southern Africa – first and foremost in Zimbabwe - continues to be characterized by the devastating combination of a lack of food security, the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and inadequate government services. Swiss humanitarian aid supports efforts in the region which aim to improve the food security of the most vulnerable communities and to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Efforts are concentrated primarily in Zimbabwe, a country which has been beset by a dire humanitarian crisis for the last few years, as borne witness to by the following statistics:

Switzerland helps the people of Zimbabwe by providing emergency food aid, which is distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP) and by NGOs. It has also sent experts to the country, and funds the supply of seeds and fertilizers to smallholders in order to help kick-start domestic food production again.

As regards the health-care sector, Humanitarian Aid supports Swiss NGOs (Solidarmed, Swiss Aids Care International) which distribute anti-retroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS sufferers living in the slums of the capital Harare and in rural areas. These organizations supported by the Swiss programme also train public health workers in the most isolated parts of the country to ensure that retroviral treatment is accessible to anyone who needs it.

Cholera epidemics regularly sweep through the most destitute parts of the country. During the period between August 2008 and February 2009, around 90,000 people contracted cholera and more than 4,000 subsequently died. Swiss Humanitarian Aid has provided UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (OIM) with experts to carry out tests on the drinking water and to devise emergency measures to minimize the impact of the epidemic. In the area of well construction Swiss Humanitarian Aid has seconded a member of the Swiss Humanitarian aid Unit (SHA) to the IMO, and provides financial support to the well-construction project. Priority is given to the sustainable improvement of the quality of drinking water and to the access to water in those rural areas which were hardest hit by the cholera outbreak of 2008/2009.

The SDC’s humanitarian aid programme in Angola was concluded at the end of 2006. The SDC nonetheless maintains an office in Luanda in order to implement the “Angolan-Swiss Socio-humanitarian Programme”, based on a bilateral agreement signed between Switzerland and Angola to follow up the restitution of Angolan assets that had been frozen in Switzerland. Sustained by a budget of some USD 21 million, the programme accords priority to professional training in the agricultural sector and to the strengthening of Angolan capacity in the domain of de-mining.

Background information

Facts and figures
South Africa

Surface area
Annual population growth rate (since 1990)
Life expectancy at birth women / men
Adult illiteracy rate: women / men
Gross Domestic Product GDP per capita
Percentage of population with less than 2 USD per day




53.2 /52.0
22 /22






50.4 /52.0

10.1 /5.3






Source: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2013

Background information provided by the BBC (Africa)

Local SDC contact address:

Southern Africa (Pretoria)

Swiss Agency for Developement and Cooperation (SDC)
165 Lynnwood Road, Ozmik House, South Wing, Brooklyn
P.O. Box 1964
Brooklyn Square, 0075
Pretoria - South Africa

Phone +27 12 366 9400
Fax +27 12 362 2971
Email pretoria@sdc.net
Website www.swiss-cooperation.admin.ch/southernafrica/

Additional Information and Documents

Here, you will find more publications, links, documents and articles about Swiss development cooperation and humanitarian aid in this country.