Southern Africa

The SDC's regional programme in Southern Africa aims to reduce the levels of poverty, inequality and vulnerability in the countries of the region. Food security, the fight against HIV/AIDS and humanitarian aid are the main focus areas.

Map of the region Southern Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, Lesotho)

After many decades of conflict and turmoil, the region of Southern Africa has now somewhat stabilised, with socio-economic indicators on the rise. It is nevertheless still one of the regions of the world where inequality is most prevalent, which translates into a high level of violence and insecurity.

The SDC's development work in the region focuses on two major issues: the fight against HIV/AIDS and enhancing food security, which includes improving seed and increasing its availability. Humanitarian aid is provided on an ad hoc basis, in response to specific crises or natural disasters.

The SDC's support aims to reinforce policy at the national level of the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and facilitate the development and implementation of regional standards on these different issues.

The SADC is composed of 15 member states: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The SDC runs specific country programmes in Mozambique and Tanzania, and has a cooperation office in both. The DRC, though a member of the SADC, comes under the regional programme for the Great Lakes.

* planned; total based on available data
SDC figures excluding program contributions to Swiss NGOs
.. = figures not available | – = nil or amount < 5'000 CHF

Food security

Better equipped to cope with unpredictable changes in the climate

Making populations more self-sufficient in terms of food, especially smallholder farmers, remains the main objective of the SDC. It also promotes better access to good-quality seed and better management of harvests, in particular through the use of silos. In Swaziland rural communities have thus been able to diversify their production. In addition to the maize grown for their own personal consumption, farmers considered vulnerable have expanded their production by selling seed. Such activities help reduce their losses and increase individual incomes. They also help diminish the risk of disasters and make populations more able to adapt to climate change.

Agriculture and food security


The prevention of HIV/AIDS at the heart of the SDC's work

Almost two thirds of the victims of HIV/AIDS are in Southern Africa. In such a context, preventing HIV/AIDS – especially among the young, access to treatment and psychosocial support continue to lie at the heart of the SDC's concerns and action. Strengthening the rights of young people and women in particular to sexual and reproductive health is another of the SDC's priorities, which takes a multisectoral approach in this regard, based on strengthening capacity at the community and national levels.

Prevention through theatre and dance

In Zambia, in the suburbs of Lusaka and in the provincial towns, young people run clubs for children, and theatrical and dance groups, spreading the message of HIV/AIDS prevention – which today is still a constant threat – through their activities.

Health – A prerequisite for development


Better sharing of resources

Governance is an integral part of the SDC's strategy in the areas of food security and HIV/AIDS. The objective is to ensure that public resources in both areas are divided up fairly and responsibly.

Advocacy and Good Governance

Humanitarian aid

Emergency response

In Southern Africa, the SDC is ready to respond with humanitarian aid to multiple emergencies, whether of natural or human origin.

Humanitarian Aid

History of cooperation

From the end of apartheid to a vision for the region

After the fall of the apartheid regime, in 1995 the SDC set up a special programme for South Africa which focused on conflict prevention and poverty reduction. In 2005 South Africa obtained the status of middle-income country and became a priority country of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). In parallel the SDC developed a more regional strategy, spreading its activities to other SADC countries.

In 2008 the SDC opened an office in Harare, in the face of an extreme humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. It developed an emergency programme, while at the same time deploying its cooperation programme in other countries of the region, focusing on HIV/AIDS, rural development and good governance. At the end of 2015, the SDC's regional office was transferred from Pretoria to Harare.

Current projects

Object 1 – 5 of 5

  • 1

Promoting Social Entrepreneurship in selected countries

01.07.2021 - 28.02.2026

This regional program with national implementation components supports Social Entrepreneurs (SEs) contributing to solving societal and environmental problems with a market-based approach. The contribution identifies and supports selected SEs and helps them to reach out to the poor. It serves the creation of employment and income for low-income households improving their livelihoods. SEs use innovative ideas and business models that are well-aligned with SDC’s objectives of poverty reduction.

Strengthening the legislative in Africa through an institutional partnership with AWEPA (Association des parlementaires européens partenaires de l’Afrique)

15.04.2016 - 15.04.2020

A travers un partenariat institutionnel avec AWEPA, la DDC contribue à promouvoir la paix et la stabilité dans les Grands Lacs en renforçant les capacités des institutions législatives et en soutenant les échanges entre parlementaires de la région, européens et suisses. Le Forum des parlementaires de la CIRGL[1], qui sert de pont avec les parlements nationaux dans la mise en œuvre, manque encore de capacités. Ce projet contribue au renforcement du Forum et à la mise en œuvre du Pacte[2] et permet une promotion de la bonne gouvernance au plus haut niveau.  

[1] Conférence Internationale pour la région des Grands Lacs, mis en place en 2000 par 11 pays de la région pour la médiation, la prévention et le règlement des conflits. 

[2] Pacte pour la paix, la sécurité, la stabilité et le développement signé par les 11 pays membres de la CIRGL.



MEDAC: Strengthening Mediterranean Diplomacy

01.08.2014 - 30.09.2017

The Mediterranean region is marked by serious democratic deficits, environmental and demographic challenges, multiple conflicts and difficult political transformation processes. It is of eminent importance for Europe’s security. Switzerland’s longstanding support of the Mediterranean Academy for Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC) in Malta aims to strengthen Mediterranean diplomacy in areas such as human rights and good governance and to build trust among young aspiring diplomats from various countries of the region.

Object 1 – 5 of 5

  • 1