The Dispatch on International Cooperation 2017-2020, from its adoption to its implementation, takes centre stage in the activities of the SDC, explained SDC director general Manuel Sager in the press conference. “The dispatch is based on the Federal Council’s proposals and sets five strategic priorities,” said Sager. These are:
• Further investment in emergency aid to protect people affected by crises and disasters.
• Increased engagement in fragile countries and regions. 55% instead of 45% of funds will now be allocated to the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
• Increased commitment to reducing poverty and inequality, with a focus on creating prospects for young people and women.
• Further strengthening of cooperation with the private sector.
• Global commitment in the areas of water, climate change, health, food security and migration.
Stronger links with migration policy
Besides the SDC and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, the FDFA’s Human Security Division will for the first time also be involved in implementing the dispatch. The SDC will also ensure stronger links between its activities and migration policy where this serves to protect refugees and further the common interests of Switzerland and its partner countries. “The aim of this interlinkage is to prevent the human tragedies that are occurring as a result of the refugee crisis and to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis,” said Sager. In particular, this means stepping up activities in the countries of origin and focusing on the causes of forced displacement and migration.
Another priority for the current year is an education strategy encompassing basic education and vocational training, said Sager. The corresponding funds will be increased by 50% (CHF 210 million) for the 2017–2020 period. The dispatch also sets a new strategic goal: gender and the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). About CHF 10 million will be spent annually on this goal. Furthermore, the programmes of the cohesion contribution to ten EU member states will be concluded by mid-year. According to Sager, the corresponding targets have been reached or even surpassed.
Measuring effectiveness will become increasingly important during the new dispatch period, stressed Sager. Leading into the second part of the conference, Sager then gave the floor to the head of the SDC’s Evaluation and Controlling Section, Peter Bieler, who introduced the topic of measuring effectiveness. The SDC commissions external experts to evaluate more than 100 projects every year. Their evaluations cover thematic priorities, country strategies and institutional structures. The aim of the evaluations is to draw lessons and to report objectively on the impact of development cooperation. Bieler explained the mechanisms and criteria that are applied to measure the relevance, efficiency or profitability of projects, as well as the performance and operational capacity of contributions to organisations. By way of illustration, he gave the example of the Agri-Fin Mobile project to improve services to farmers in Africa and Asia.
Chantal Nicod, head of the SDC’s West Africa Division, gave several examples of measuring the effectiveness of basic education projects. She also explained what measures are taken after an evaluation has been carried out. The aim of effectiveness measurements, said Nicod, 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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