Reliable access to important resources and services is essential for disadvantaged groups. Innovative projects in technology and finance and efforts in the education sector were priorities for Swiss development cooperation in 2017.
Resources and services for all
Overcoming crises through education and training
Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC: the rapidly growing populations of these three countries in the African Great Lakes region have witnessed a succession of conflicts, human rights violations and displacements since the 1990s. In Rwanda, the government has made education its main priority to get the country back on its feet and meet the needs of an increasingly large young population. The SDC is supporting projects in the education sector in these three countries.
Education, which includes basic education and vocational skills development, is crucial in conflict situations: it helps protect children and young people, and gives them prospects and a chance to be part of their country's economic, social and political development. Education is a fundamental human right and an important factor for cohesion; it plays a key role in peace-building. In line with its new education strategy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDC is stepping up its commitment in fragile contexts not only in Africa but also in Asia and Latin America.
Switzerland's support in the Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu
In the eastern DRC, which is plagued by recurrent conflicts, children and young people are exposed to multiple forms of violence: abuse, sexual exploitation, forced labour and recruitment by armed groups.
Conflict and a lack of schools mean that 7 million children are not receiving an education. Training opportunities are scarce and most young people are unemployed. In North Kivu, the SDC is funding a project to provide education and offer protection to children affected by the conflicts. In South Kivu, it is supporting the development of quality vocational skills programmes adapted to the needs of local communities and businesses to increase employment and incomes.
In crises, basic education and protection go hand in hand
'Maman DIVAS', a school administrator in North Kivu is pleased with the SDC-funded project. “Teaching methods that allow children to make up for lost years of schooling and process traumatic experiences help the children to grow. School achievement rates have risen." Between 2016 and 2017, more than 20,000 children benefited. The measures introduced include teacher training on psychosocial support and children's rights, psychologists and lawyers to follow-up on cases of abuse, and extracurricular activities for the pupils.
The integration of displaced children into schools has fostered cohesion between displaced and host families. In times of crisis, going back to school is a return to normality, hope, future prospects and physical and psychological protection – important factors for the well-being of children and their families. School is the place where children learn to live together again: it teaches them about peace and reconciliation and the prevention of violence.
Vocational skills development: the gateway to employment
Delphin took a course in embroidery, Céléstine learned joinery. They both attended short-term training courses funded by the SDC. Today, they work in local companies. Bricklaying, welding, motorbike repair, sewing, leather work and hairdressing are among the 19 trades with employment potential identified in the city of Bukavu. The skills they learn significantly increase the trainees' chances of finding a better paid job, as Delphin can confirm: "Before the training, I did casual sewing jobs and earned 1 to 2 USD a day. Now I have been hired by a workshop and I earn at least 60 dollars a month".
The training helps young people who have received little or no education: orphans, ex-combatants, girl mothers, displaced persons. Almost 600 young people have received training, half of them women. Celestine, a single mother, is happy to see that she can cope with her son's school fees and take charge of her life.
How satellite technology is helping rice farmers
203'000 Indian rice farmers have been able to claim compensation for crop losses thanks to technology that can 'see through clouds'. The RIICE project combines two SDC objectives: food security and financial inclusion.
In India in 2017, 203'000 farmers received rapid compensation for crop losses to drought for the first time. It is expected that by 2019 over a million more farmers will benefit from this kind of crop insurance.
These encouraging results are owed to the RIICE (Remote Sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging Economies) project, which combines the SDC's objectives to improve food security and financial inclusion.
With the help of innovative software developed by a Swiss company (sarmap SA), RIICE combines freely available satellite imaging (ESA) data and powerful modelling developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to produce reliable nationwide projections on rice yields. It also promotes the use of this data in agricultural insurance programmes. The reinsurer SwissRe, a global leader in the sector, has tested this technology with good results and is starting to integrate it in insurance contracts whose beneficiaries are small-scale farmers. The insurance, which covers claims in the area of 100 CHF are often sufficient to keep the farmers from falling back into poverty if their crops fail.
The SDC plays a key role in the implementation of the RIICE public-private partnership. It has helped bring together the strengths of the two organisations to utilise institutional dynamics and develop technological solutions that are taken up by markets and thus remain accessible in the long-term. In the region where 90% of the world's rice is grown, the Philippines have taken up the technology, and Vietnam and Cambodia are about to follow suit.
The state only pays when people find employment
With Swiss support, the Colombian government launched the first Social Impact Bond (SIB) in a developing country in March 2017.
An SIB is a public-private service agreement which pays for better social outcomes. Private partners finance investments in advance and bear the risk. The state only pays if measurable results are achieved.
Long-term employment for the poor
The Colombian SIB aims to integrate poor sections of society into the labour market. A group of foundations is financing measures to that end. The Colombian government only pays the investments back in full if people enter employment, are still in employment after several months and are registered with the state social insurance funds. The SIB is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank and SECO.
The launch of two additional SIBs in Colombia is planned in the coming months, introducing the funding instrument to other government agencies. More cooperation with universities is also encouraged.
The state sets the goals – the private sector decides how to achieve them
SIBs are not a cure-all solution. Implementing them is complex and the bonds are dependent on good data collection. Goals must be measurable and costs and benefits carefully weighed up. To this end, SIBs promote innovation and efficiency in government spending. The state specifies the desired outcome. The partners decide how to achieve it. Quality and the achievement of the outcomes are monitored by independent bodies.
SECO is supporting the SIB in Colombia to help poor sections of the population. This is also a way in which new financing mechanisms are being established to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.