When we developed the 2019–2024 strategy in the last decade, no one could have even suspected what lay ahead – the coronavirus pandemic, the war of aggression against Ukraine and massive price increases in our project countries. All of this on top of the global food crisis fuelled by climate change and species extinction. Welcome to the age of VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. This abbreviation reminds us that constant adaptation is necessary, and often even essential for survival. Static multi-year plans are no longer fit for purpose.

At the half-way point of our 6-year strategy, therefore, we asked ourselves where SWISSAID can add the most value in the face of these diverse challenges. As a key result of these reflections, we have included the following in our new mission statement: “We create fair and lasting solutions to fight against the global food crisis.” In our endeavours to achieve this, we focus especially on agroecology and gender equality.

We prioritise programmes that are regionally rooted, and cultivate partnerships based on equal terms. We in­corporate both traditional farming knowledge and scientific findings into our work. With almost exclusively local employees on the ground, we strive to maintain long-term commitments that allow us to achieve a sustainable and lasting impact. Last but not least, we venture to take a development policy stance in order to meet our responsibility for shaping favourable framework conditions.

Key partnerships

We enter into partnerships that can help us achieve our goals. Two examples:

  • With Sufosec, the alliance for Sustainable Food Systems and Empowered Communities, we and five other Swiss NGOs active in development policy laid the foundation for a learning and mutually supportive working community. The Sufosec alliance, which is supported through the programme contribution from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), covers in around 30 countries of operation with its joint programme.
  • As part of an SDC programme, ­SWISSAID cooperates with the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), Africa’s largest civil society movement for agroecology. The goal here is to systematically increase production of and demand for farmer-managed and local but forgotten nutrient-rich seeds in four countries.

Identity and expertise

With programmes like these, we are playing in the premier league when it comes to finding sustainable ways out of the food crisis worldwide. In collaboration with others, we create added value that we could not have produced on our own. Sufosec’s first nutrition report is an ideal example of this.

The report brings together data from 14,000 families and demonstrating that hunger and malnutrition can be reduced by up to 16 percent simply by adopting certain agroecological practices. These are encouraging results from the field, making it clear that agroecology not only benefits the environment and reduces global warming, but is also a highly effective tool for overcoming hunger in a lasting way.

Emergency aid as a stopgap

The age of VUCA will continue to challenge us – the world we are growing into can expect even more crises and uncertainty. Emergency aid as a vital stopgap in periods of severe crisis is becoming increasingly important, and is an essential element of SWISSAID’s work. In technical terms we refer to a “nexus approach”, which involves the interlinking of humanitarian, development and peacebuilding efforts. In the 75th year of its existence, SWISSAID is thus taking a step closer to its roots. Back then we were known as Swiss European Aid, and worked to save the lives of children and families in war-torn Europe. The world we are moving towards demands that we do both: provide rapid assistance in acute emergencies while keeping a constant eye on long-term solutions.