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SDC wants youth to have a say in development

The SDC supports the education of young people in Nepal (SDC) DEZA

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) says giving young people in developing countries a voice is one of its priorities in the future.

This content was published on February 8, 2006 - 17:14

Another important area of focus, it added, would be achieving the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to alleviate poverty.

Speaking at the SDC's annual conference on Wednesday, director Walter Fust said that economic forces had led the agency to review its activities.

"In the context of stagnating budgets and financial plans, the SDC... will be aligning the content of its bilateral development cooperation more closely on the MDGs," Fust said.

This would mean that the agency would be concentrating on its strengths on the international playing field, such as in health, water and rural development.

As for paying more attention to young people, Fust said that it was a logical development that they should be involved more in defining their requirements, given that under-24s make up around half of the world's population.

In many developing countries, he added, youth were faced with a lack of jobs and access to education, leaving them with few or no prospects for the future.

"We have to do more, especially for girls," said Fust.

In Bangladesh, one of the SDC's priority countries, only 50 per cent of girls are sent to school.

Focal point

The SDC will continue to focus on reconstruction work in Pakistan in the areas worst hit by the recent earthquake, towards which it has earmarked SFr50 million ($38.5 million) over a five-year period.

The funds will be used to ensure basic living conditions and will pay for the construction of earthquake-proof housing and for agricultural support.

The agency stressed that it would carry on with its work in crisis-stricken countries, such as Nepal, currently at a standstill because of controversial elections.

"The situation in Nepal is terrible but our projects are going well. To leave now, would be wrong. We must stand by the population," Fust said.

As far as the SDC's work with Eastern European countries were concerned, it has applied to the government for a credit line to allow its cooperation with partners in this region to continue between 2007 and 2010. Parliament is set to debate the issue later this year.

swissinfo

In brief

The Millennium Development Goals, which are supposed to be met by 2015, are:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

2. Achieve universal primary education.

3. Promote gender equality and empower women.

4. Reduce child mortality.

5. Improve maternal health.

6. Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases.

7. Ensure environmental sustainability.

8. Develop a global partnership for development.

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Key facts

Switzerland's annual aid budget is equivalent to 0.4 per cent of gross national product, which is below the 0.7 per cent recommended by the United Nations.
In 2005 the SDC had a budget SFr1.3 billion.

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