Special Supplement

Humanitarian and development cooperation between Switzerland and Bangladesh: solidarity, reliability and effectiveness

Published : 31 Jul 2022 07:46 PM

Humanitarian values and principles are at the core of Switzerland’s identity. In the years following the independence of Bangladesh, our humanitarian aid mainly focused on reconstructing the country’s war-affected infrastructure. Since then, Switzerland has remained a committed partner of Bangladesh, be it in relation to natural disasters, such as floods or cyclones, or in the context of the Rohingya refugee crisis. In this regard, considering per capita contribution, our country is among the top contributors, standing firmly by Bangladesh to respond to the crisis.  

Our contributions go to the United Nations, local and international NGOs. In addition, we established an office in Cox’s Bazar to support with technical assistance the engagement in water and sanitation as well as waste management. Since 2017, Switzerland has contributed 50 million Swiss Francs ($50 million), benefitting both the Rohingya and host communities. At the latest Joint Response Plan launch in late March this year, our country pledged additional 6 million Swiss Francs for humanitarian aid and over 1 million Swiss Francs for development activities in the district. Switzerland is further supporting UN agencies by deploying specialized staff. Since the beginning of the crisis, more than 25 Swiss experts have contributed with their expertise and skills to the activities of our implementing partners.

Switzerland contributes to sustainable and more inclusive socio-economic development for the benefit of the poor, disadvantaged and minority population.  

Switzerland has remained a committed, innovative, and effective development partner of Bangladesh, working in critical socio-economic areas over the years and supporting programs in many domains; this has included democratic governance, agriculture, income, and economic development and labor migration. Overall Switzerland has invested over $1 billion in development cooperation since Bangladesh’s independence, with significant additional amounts channeled to the country through different international and multinational organizations. In December last year, Switzerland kicked off the 50-year partnership celebration with the launch of its new Country Programme for 2022-2025. This programme is aligned with the Agenda 2030 - that both countries hold dear to - and Bangladesh’s development priorities. With this new commitment, Switzerland will invest about 130 million Swiss Francs or BDT 1’250 crore over four years.

This country programme has a solid economic development and cooperation agenda, which includes a decisive market-led approach, for example in skills development, and a vision to engage even more with the private sector, for instance in the insurance domain. It also has a clear ambition to keep addressing social inclusion, citizens’ participation, human rights and the rule of law. To this end, and in line with the 2030 Agenda – and especially to achieve SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) – Switzerland will continue its traditional engagement in the area of human rights and quality basic services; this includes targeted social protection of particularly vulnerable people. We are also committed to significantly ramping up our interventions in climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction and environmental sustainability.