In Switzerland, opportunities to take part in social and political life are a matter of course. Many SDC partner countries do not have such a culture, or only to a limited extent. Experience, however, shows us that truly sustainable development is only possible if all members of society can assert their interests and have a say in shaping public policies. Public participation is also a means of finding solutions that benefit all groups of people, which helps prevent violent conflict.
The importance of political participation can be seen in the example of Tanzania, where the SDC is supporting five major civil society organisations working to include citizens in processes that affect the public. This has resulted in significant changes to public services in the water, education and healthcare sectors within a short period of time, and has helped to make several key pieces of legislation more in line with citizens' interests. In Ukraine, the SDC is supporting the introduction of e-governance, which includes greater citizen participation online. The aim is to achieve greater transparency, less corruption and better services for citizens and the local economy.
In 2019, around 14% (CHF 212 million) of all SDC project funds was used for activities focusing on governance and good governance. This was carried out through a total of 133 projects. An additional 40% (CHF 606 million) was used to support governance-related activities in specific sectors such as healthcare and water supply.
A key factor in people being able to participate and help shape political processes at all is unimpeded access to information. This requires a well-functioning media sector. To this end, one of the SDC's key partners is the Swiss NGO Fondation Hirondelle. The foundation supports responsible journalism in war-affected countries, post-conflict areas, humanitarian crises, and societies in democratic transition. At the press conference, Secretary General Philippe Bovey presented the Studio Tamani radio programme in Mali as an example. The programme, which runs for several hours at a time, has been providing daily news from Mali and panel discussions since 2013. Studio Tamani's long-term goal is to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the numerous conflicts in the Sahel region.
Impact assessments in the field and independent evaluations confirm that the SDC is on track to meet the goals of the dispatch and that its programmes are producing the desired outcomes. The SDC's work helps people in its partner countries and, at the same time, contributes to security and prosperity in Switzerland. This is because climate change and pandemics do not stop at national borders. And it is also why it remains at the heart of the SDC's agenda to meet these global challenges with innovative solutions and make sustainable development possible.
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