Southern Africa

The Swiss regional programme in Southern Africa contributes to the reduction of poverty and vulnerability. With its engagement, Switzerland contributes to enhanced food security for smallholder farmers and to the reduction of new HIV infections.

Map of the region Southern Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, Lesotho)

Southern Africa is a region of great contrasts and the most stable region of the continent. Diverging economic growth patterns, high rates of unemployment, weak commodity prices, fiscal strain, increasing debt, and high inflation contribute to a cautious economic outlook for the region. Governance crisis and corruption weaken political structures and linked with widespread inequality lead to violence and insecurity.

Switzerland’s support focuses on two major issues: the reduction of new HIV among young people and enhancing food security for smallholder farmers, by increasing their resilience and improving seeds availability and diversity. Humanitarian aid is provided on an ad hoc basis, in response to specific crises or natural disasters.

Switzerland's support aims to reinforce policy at the national level of seven selected countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and facilitate the development and implementation of regional standards on these different issues.

The SADC is composed of 16 member states (Angola, Botswana, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Its Secretariat is in Botswana. The Swiss regional programme in Southern Africa focusses country interventions on Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Eswatini. Its cooperation office is in Harare. 

In line with the new Swiss International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24 the programme is transitioning towards a two-country programme with focus on Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Food security

More food secure and resilient to cope with unpredictable changes of the climate

Enhancing food self-sufficiency of smallholder farming households is the objective of the Swiss development cooperation (SDC). SDC promotes the farmers’ access to diverse and good quality seeds and planting material. It strengthens seed production and multiplication as well as community based seed systems. The improved availability, diversity and use of crop seeds adapted to the local conditions and sustainable crop management practices increases farming households’ resilience and availability of nutritious food in the region.

Southern Africa is prone to repeated climate-change induced hazards. To respond in case of crisis (e.g. drought) and ensure food, water and nutrition security, the SDC supports the strengthening of capacities to assess vulnerability countries (national level) and the SADC (regional level). The dissemination of comprehensive locally adapted disaster risk reduction instruments (e.g. micro-insurances) enables smallholder farmers to better cope with climate change induced hazards (e.g. erratic rain, pest, floods).

Agriculture is the most important sector providing employment and income to more than 60% of the population. Every year 6 million young people join the workforce. SDC supports promising skills development initiatives in agriculture and related value-chains to increase access for young people to income-generating activities in the agricultural sector.

Agriculture and food security

HIV and Sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR)

New infections among young people (10-24 years old) are reduced

In Southern Africa, about 1.1 million young people (10-19 years old) live with HIV and AIDS. Young people are vulnerable to new HIV infections and face the challenge of dealing with their HIV status (disclosure, safe sex, stigma, safer contraception and treatment adherence). HIV quality prevention and treatment services are the most cost-effective way to halt and reverse the epidemic. By promoting safe schools, youth friendly health services and social protection systems, the SDC empowers young people to adopt protective behavior and adhere to treatment to stay alive and prevent further infections. SDC engages also in sexual and reproductive health and rights policies.

Through SDC outreach programs about 500,000 young people were tested 2018 and more than 2 million young people accessed youth friendly health services. SDC’s support to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) contributes to the uptake of policies (e.g. SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage).

Health – A prerequisite for development

Gender, Governance and Climate Change

In addition to its engagement in food security and HIV reduction, Switzerland also focusses on important topics such as adaptation to climate change, good governance and gender equality. The program supports governance processes so that men and women participate more in decision-making and the populations’ access to services is improved. In health and food security, SDC encourages approaches that consider specific needs of women and men. Young people are the target group for HIV/SRHR and the activities to create jobs in agriculture. Water and nutrition aspects are integrated in all programs.



Climate Change

Humanitarian aid

Emergency response

In Southern Africa, the SDC is ready to respond with humanitarian aid to multiple emergencies, whether of natural or human origin.

Humanitarian Aid

History of cooperation

From the end of apartheid to a vision for the region

After the fall of the apartheid regime, in 1995 the SDC set up a special programme for South Africa which focused on conflict prevention and poverty reduction. In 2005 South Africa obtained the status of middle-income country and became a priority country of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). In parallel the SDC developed a more regional strategy, spreading its activities to other SADC countries.

In 2008 the SDC opened an office in Harare, in the face of an extreme humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. It developed an emergency programme, while at the same time deploying its cooperation programme in other countries of the region, focusing on HIV/AIDS, rural development and good governance. Early 2016, the SDC's regional office was transferred from Pretoria to Harare.

Current projects

Object 1 – 7 of 7

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Promoting Social Entrepreneurship in selected countries

01.01.2023 - 28.02.2026

This regional program with national implementation components supports Social Entrepreneurs (SEs) contributing to solving societal and environmental problems with a market-based approach. The contribution identifies and supports selected SEs and helps them to reach out to the poor. It serves the creation of employment and income for low-income households improving their livelihoods. SEs use innovative ideas and business models that are well-aligned with SDC’s objectives of poverty reduction.

Impact Linked Financing for high-impact organisations suf-fering from the COVID-19 crisis

01.04.2021 - 31.05.2025

The Impact-Linked Finance Fund (ILFF) addresses major challenges, which private-sector organisations creating strong positive impact for vulnerable communities are facing due to COVID-19. These high-impact organisations (HIOs) will benefit greatly from an innovative financing approach that rewards them directly for verified outcomes. The project will focus on HIOs in Eastern and Southern Africa suffering from the COVID-19 crisis and providing important sustainable services at affordable prices to the poor.

SYP Safeguard Young People in Eastern African countries

01.03.2021 - 28.02.2024

The SYP program contributes to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people, thus  reducing gender based health inequities. It supports the adoption, domestication and implementation of policies, and strengthens young people’s competencies on and access to SRHR services. The expansion to Tanzania and Rwanda leverages on the  experience in Southern Africa financed by SDC, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s thematic expertise and convening power.

Community-Based Chronic disease Care Lesotho (ComBaCaL)

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2025

Non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) are the number one cause of death globally. There is a lack of scientifically validated prevention and care models in low- and middle-income countries. This research project, combining research excellency from Switzerland and Lesotho, will develop, test, validate, improve and up-scale an innovative eHealth NCD prevention and care model in health facilities and communities in Lesotho and beyond.

The Swiss Capacity Building Facility

01.10.2020 - 31.12.2026

The Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF) is a Swiss technical assistance financing facility, uniting the expertise of key actors of the Swiss financial sector and of partners engaged in financial inclusion. The SCBF fosters the innovation and massive scaling-up of financial services and products centred on the financial inclusion of low-income women, vulnerable households, smallholder farmers and MSMEs in the Global South. Financial inclusion enables reaching the SDGs. 

Youth Engagement in Democratic Governance and Socio-economic Development in Africa

15.04.2019 - 30.06.2023

Africa has the youngest population globally. While this is an unparalleled opportunity for growth and innovation, it may also fuel instability and violence. Young people in Africa need more capacities to use their potential as drivers of peaceful changes. With African and COMESA, SDC seeks to contribute to current continental, regional and national efforts to create an enabling environment for youth engagement in democratic processes , in line with the CH interest of contributing to the prevention of violent extremisms and supporting economic partnerships in Africa

Promoting Social Entrepreneurship in selected countries

01.07.2017 - 31.12.2022

This regional program with national implementation components is a private-public-development-partnership (PPDP) supporting Social Entrepreneurs (SEs) contributing to solving societal and environmental problems with a market-based approach. The contribution identifies and supports selected SEs and helps them to reach out to the poor. It serves the creation of employment and income for low-income households improving their livelihoods. SEs use innovative ideas and business models that are well-aligned with SDC’s objectives of poverty reduction.

Object 1 – 7 of 7

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