The SDC is divided into four departments:
The SDC's South Cooperation Department contributes to reducing poverty in 21 countries and regions of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Its main priority is to provide disadvantaged communities with access to basic services (basic healthcare and education) and infrastructure (water), as well as employment and income opportunities.
More than half of these countries and regions are fragile or affected by conflict: state institutions are weak or unstable, and populations living in extreme poverty fall time and again victim to violence and arbitrary political persecution. Despite difficult conditions, the South Cooperation Department is stepping up its activities in these regions in order to improve the economic and social situation of affected communities. It continuously adapts its programmes to the rapidly changing environment.
The South Cooperation Department currently runs over 800 projects focused on ten thematic areas, with activities geared to the needs of the partner countries:
Peacebuilding, conflict prevention and promotion of human rights
Basic education and vocational education and training
Employment and economic development
Food security and nutrition
Governance (democratisation, decentralisation, the rule of law)
The Global Cooperation Department works to ensure that developing countries have a better chance of adapting to global changes. Because poverty, the effects of climate change, water scarcity, migration and health are not confined within national borders, solidarity among all peoples, all countries and all organisations is more necessary than ever.
That is where Switzerland's global programmes and multilateral cooperation come into play, fostering political dialogue and developing broad-based solutions underpinned by practical knowledge.
Multilateral organisations such as the UN, the World Bank and the regional development banks can realise major undertakings thanks to the extensive knowledge, the long years of experience and the considerable resources they have at their disposal. Through the funding it provides and its secondment of staff to multilateral institutions, Switzerland is able to participate in large-scale projects.
The combined knowledge of individual countries and international organisations helps to ensure effective use of the funds invested and to improve project outcomes.
As a contribution to pro-development globalisation, the Global Cooperation Department is implementing worldwide programmes in the areas of climate change, food security, migration, water and health. These programmes focus on multilateral political dialogue, the development of innovative solutions and the dissemination of knowledge.
Their added value rests on drawing together specialist knowledge, practical relevance and the setting of international standards. Global programmes primarily come into play where transnational solutions are possible. Accordingly, they are not bound geographically and operate in regions where they have the most effect.
Cooperation with Eastern Europe
In the Western Balkans and selected countries of the former Soviet Union, Switzerland contributes to the promotion of security and stability as well as sustainable economic growth. Cooperation with Eastern Europe includes this transition cooperation and Switzerland's contribution to the new EU member states.
The transition cooperation the SDC carries out with SECO promotes the rule of law, democracy and the social market economy, and strengthens civil society. In this way, Switzerland contributes to stability in politically volatile regions and provides people there with better prospects.
Around 55% of financial and technical aid goes to five countries in the Western Balkans, and the remaining 45% is deployed in the eight countries of the former Soviet Union.
The Cooperation with Eastern Europe Department focuses its transition cooperation work on the following priority areas:
Democratisation, decentralisation, local governance and combating corruption
Reform of the health sector
Economic development of agriculture
Bringing vocational education and training systems into line with the needs of the labour market
More efficient and equitable water management
Prevention of conflicts and promotion of the rule of law
By helping to reduce economic and social disparities in the new member states, Switzerland is promoting stability and prosperity in the enlarged European Union. It thereby also fosters stronger relations with the new member states and with the EU as a whole, Switzerland's most important foreign policy partner. Switzerland's contribution to the enlarged EU is not counted as official development assistance (ODA).
Swiss Humanitarian Aid
The mission of the SDC's Humanitarian Aid Department is to save lives and alleviate suffering. Swiss Humanitarian Aid is guided by international humanitarian law and the internationally recognised principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
As an expression of Switzerland's solidarity with people in need, Swiss Humanitarian Aid activities are centred on the victims of crises, disasters and conflicts and are founded on shared values such as the inalienable dignity of every individual.
Swiss Humanitarian Aid focuses its efforts on three core areas:
Emergency aid and survival assistance (emergency relief)
Disaster risk reduction and prevention
The lion's share of Swiss Humanitarian Aid resources is allocated to emergency relief. The aim is to protect civilian populations that are most affected by crises, especially women, children, refugees and internally displaced persons. Specifically, the goal is to ensure the provision of basic necessities such as emergency shelter, drinking water, sanitary facilities and medical supplies. The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) provides direct assistance in regions affected by conflict or natural disasters. In addition, it seconds specialists to multilateral organisations.
Sustainability is key to reconstruction and disaster risk reduction. Earthquake- and hurricane-proof constructions ensure that people will be better protected against future disasters.
The SDC's Humanitarian Aid Department works closely with Swiss relief organisations and international organisations, both on the ground and at the international level. Its major partners include the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN agencies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme, and humanitarian NGOs are important partners.
Activities – various means