Belt tightening Switzerland to end development aid to Pakistan

Swiss assistance focused on livelihood generation schemes like helping women produce handicrafts

(Swiss Cooperation Pakistan)

Budget cuts have forced the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to withdraw aid to Pakistan. 

On Friday, SDC announced that it was ending development cooperation in two northern provinces of Pakistan “faster than expected”. This means that the South Asian country will no longer be the recipient of any Swiss aid. 

“This is a consequence of a great pressure to reduce costs,” Thomas Greminger, Deputy Director General of the SDC, told the Swiss News Agency on Friday. 

The SDC has been active in Pakistan since 1996. In 2012, it launched the Hindukush programme that concentrated on two northwestern provinces: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Activities such as livelihood creation and conflict resolution were the main focus of Swiss involvement. 

Prioritising efforts

 Every four years, the development aid budget comes up for parliamentary approval. In March last year, the House of Representatives’ finance committee allocated CHF9.6 billion ($9.85 billion) for the 2017-2020 period. The cabinet had asked for CHF11.1 billion. 

With a smaller chunk of money to allocate, the SDC will be prioritising its activities. The Horn of Africa will be receiving more money due to conflict, famine and migration issues in the region. Prime beneficiaries will be Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. 

Switzerland will also be saving money after ending its assistance to Vietnam in late 2016. However, its good performance in reducing poverty rates and not budget cuts were behind the decision, the SDC said. The South-East Asian nation had received around CHF216 million over 25 years from the SDC.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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