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Sweden provides US$11 million in additional support for democracy, human rights in Asia and Oceania

Sweden has decided to add SEK 100 million (US$11 million) to its 2016-2021 strategy for regional development cooperation in Asia and Oceania, in response to deteriorations in democratic social development and respect for civil and political rights in some parts of the region, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Freedom of action for civil society organizations has been curtailed in several countries, independent media has increasingly come under pressure, and violence against women remains a major problem. According to the press release, corruption is rampant in many places, including in judicial systems.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

New Swedish cash grant will support female-headed households in Tanzania after successful first phase

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has agreed to extend and expand a previous cash grant program aimed at tackling extreme poverty in Tanzania by providing SEK 550 million (US$62 million). The grant complements contributions from other bilateral donors as well as a SEK 3.8 billion (US$430 million) loan from the World Bank to the Tanzanian government.

Between 2016 and 2020, Sida contributed to the first phase of a conditional cash grant program benefiting female heads of households, but which covered only certain parts of Tanzania. Following an evaluation of this support, which showed positive effects not only on income poverty reduction, but also on access to food, children’s school participation, and households' ability to increase their own income, Sida has decided to extend and expand the grant until 2024.

The second phase of the program aims to continue providing cash support to poor women—this time across the entire country—conditioned upon regular health checks, school attendance, and public works participation.

"This means that seven million extremely poor women, girls, boys, and men in Tanzania for three to four years can receive SEK 90-460 (US$10-52) per month per family...for food, schooling, housing, and help to set up micro-enterprises,” said Ulf Källstig, Head of Sida's Africa Department.

The cash grant is disbursed every two months to the female head of household and the amount per family is determined by the number of children and disabled family members. Additional grants are also provided to households undergoing training to find employment or start micro-enterprises.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden approves US$185 million in support of digitalization for poverty reduction

In December of 2020, Sweden approved two new digitalization grants for the World Bank's new Digital Development Partnership (DDP) fund and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL). The purpose of the grants is to contribute to sustainable economic development, for example by using mobile data to build healthcare systems and support low-income countries in developing digital social services.

Under the slogan "connectivity for all", both DDP and DIAL strive to improve access to information by increasing conditions for digitalization, thereby contributing to tackling poverty in low-income countries. Sweden will give US$60 million to the DDP and US$125 million to DIAL over the next four years. Other contributors include Google and Microsoft, as well as other bilateral donor countries.

"A connected and digitized society is better placed to achieve [Sweden’s] development cooperation objectives of financial inclusion, trade, private sector development, social security systems, employment, and economic empowerment for women," said Carl Elmstam, a representative for digitalization in development assistance at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). "DIAL, for example, helps low- and middle-income countries use mobile data to build healthcare systems where there is a need and procure technology for the public sector. [DDP] is targeting support for low-income countries to develop digital public services and to strengthen citizens' digital skills to emerge from poverty.”

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden adopts new strategies for development cooperation

On December 17, 2020, Sweden adopted four new country strategies for its development cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Kenya, and Mali, as well as regional development cooperation strategies for the Middle East and North Africa and for the crisis in Syria. All the new strategies are for 2021-2025, and the strategy for Syria was extended until 2023.

For the DRC, the strategy will considerably expand Swedish development cooperation with the DRC and aims to reduce poverty in the country, improve conditions for democratic development, and increase respect for human rights. Sweden will intensify its commitment to issues related to the environment, sustainable use of natural resources, and food security. The new strategy encompasses SEK 3.34 billion (US$378 million), of which SEK 3.3 billion (US$373 million) is earmarked for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and SEK 40 million (US$5 million) is for the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA).

For Liberia, the new strategy is expected to contribute to poverty reduction and peacebuilding, enhanced respect for human rights, improved conditions for democratic development, and stronger environmental protection. The new strategy encompasses SEK 1.85 billion (US$209 million), of which SEK 1.8 billion (US$204 million) is earmarked for Sida, and SEK 50 million (US$6 million) is for FBA.

For Kenya, the new strategy will contribute to poverty reduction, improved conditions for democratic development through free and fair elections, and higher respect for human rights. The strategy also addresses issues related to environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources, inclusive economic development, and gender equality, including access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The new strategy encompasses SEK 1.8 billion (US$198 million).

For Mali, the new strategy focuses on promoting democracy, human rights, the rule of law, conflict prevention and reconciliation, gender equality, environmental protection, and the sustainable use of natural resources. The new strategy encompasses SEK 2.0 billion (US$226 million), of which SEK 1.95 billion (US$221 million) is earmarked for Sida, and SEK 50 million (US$6 million) is for FBA. In particular, FBA activities will support equal participation in peace processes, strengthened capacity for conflict resolution, and security sector reform.

For the Middle East and North Africa region, the volume of Swedish support over the next five years has been increased to SEK 485 million (US$55 million) annually. Through the strategy, Sweden will continue to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and gender equality. Other areas of focus include environmental protection, sustainable regional economic integration and development, as well as promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. Out of the total amount, and to complement existing humanitarian support, SEK 80 million (US$9 million) annually are earmarked for Sweden’s bilateral development cooperation with Yemen, which will contribute to strengthening the peace process, in particular through the inclusion of women.

Sweden’s strategy for the crisis in Syria is focused on strengthening the resilience of the Syrian population, supporting democracy, improving gender equality, and increasing respect for human rights. To further address the ongoing crisis in Syria, Sweden has amended and extended its regional strategy for 2021-2023. Through the amendment, an additional average increase by 30% (SEK 110 million or US$12 million annually) has been allocated toward supporting civilians in Syria as well as Syrian refugees and host communities in neighboring countries. Accountability and reconciliation have been added as new focus areas for the strategy. Sweden is currently one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance in the Syrian crisis and the total strategy amount for 2016-2023 encompasses SEK 3.2 billion (US$363 million).

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs launches 21 country reports on human rights, democracy, rule of law

On December 16, 2020, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) launched 21 new country reports on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The reports cover countries where Sweden has a permanent presence or a special commitment to human rights, including in North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

The countries included are as follows:

  • In North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, the US, and Venezuela.
  • In Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Ann Linde, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, indicated that respect for human rights and democracy is being challenged in many places. “That's why the government's human rights reports are more important than ever. They are a tool in promoting and strengthening respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, as well as for contributing to the government's democratic drive", Linde said.

Since the early 2000s, the MFA has published reports on the human rights situations of many countries, updated about every two years.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Swedes continue to have strong confidence in use of official development assistance, survey shows

In the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’s (Sida) annual poll of Swedes' attitudes toward official development assistance (ODA), confidence in the use of Swedish ODA increased somewhat in 2020.

When asked whether "Swedish ODA contributes to a better world", 61.5% of the respondents said that this is true or quite correct, reflecting an increase from 59.9% in 2019. The 2020 poll was conducted by Kantar Sifo with 1,500 respondents. Sida has been conducting the yearly survey since 1974.

Sida's Communications Director, Sepideh Imani, said Swedes have a reason to be proud, that in last year's OECD survey, Swedish ODA "was ranked the best in the world and really makes a difference". Imani noted that this year the country has provided much COVID-19-adapted support, especially for women and children in the way of health care, education, and cash assistance "so that they can buy food and let children go to school, but also support for the elderly who have been severely affected by the pandemic".

Swedes' general attitude toward ODA remained stable in 2020; the poll showed that 76% of respondents still think that it is important for Sweden to contribute to development in low-income countries. 55.8% of the respondents said they agree that Sweden’s goal to provide one percent of its gross national income in ODA is about right or should increase, while 35.8% believe that ODA should be reduced or abolished. 63.5% of women are positive toward Sweden’s ODA target, while only 48.2% of men support it.

Poll - Sida (in Swedish)

Press release - Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden adopts new strategy for humanitarian assistance with increased focus on gender and climate

Sweden announced that it adopted a new humanitarian assistance strategy for 2021-2025, through which it plans to strengthen its implementation of humanitarian development assistance by focusing more on protecting people in crisis in areas difficult to reach, as well as increasing the capacity and effectiveness of the humanitarian assistance system. The new strategy will be implemented in cooperation with local actors.

"Last week we received worrying information from the UN that humanitarian needs in the world will grow by 40% over the next year," said Peter Eriksson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation. "Now it is more important than ever that Sweden contributes to a needs-based, rapid, and effective humanitarian response."

Sweden will also increasingly seek to promote gender mainstreaming in its humanitarian response, address the impact of climate change on humanitarian crises, and strengthen cooperation between humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, and peacebuilding.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden allocates US$5 million to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for COVID-19 response

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) recently agreed to allocate an additional SEK 40 million (US$5 million) to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the next three years.

As a result of a negative trend in human rights and democracy, the importance of OHCHR's work has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the new funding will be specifically earmarked for two programs within OHCHR, namely:

  • The Regional Emergency Response Teams – COVID-19 and Human Rights, to respond to human rights violations and become more effective in anticipating and preventing crises and conflicts; and
  • The Contingency Fund, to respond to deteriorating human rights situations and to ensure human rights are supported in UN responses at all levels. 

In total, Swedish support for OHCHR amounts to approximately SEK 267 million (US$30 million) in 2020.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden allocates additional US$29 million to meet increasing humanitarian needs

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, humanitarian situations across the world have deteriorated considerably. According to the UN, the number of people in need of support has increased by 40% over the past year, almost exclusively due to the pandemic.

In response to this situation, on November 26, 2020, Sweden presented a new humanitarian support package of SEK 258 million (US$29 million) with unearmarked core official development assistance (ODA) to be allocated among the following UN agencies: UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), UNRelief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Peter Eriksson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, recounted how "in Ethiopia, thousands of people have been forced to flee during the unrest in recent weeks. In Yemen, the world's largest humanitarian crisis, half of the population suffers from acute hunger and is on the brink of famine. Sweden takes responsibility and stands by the 1 percent [ODA of GNI] target at a time when several countries are reducing their ODA".

Sweden is one of the world's largest humanitarian donors, and this is the fourth time in 2020 that the government has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a new humanitarian assistance package.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden contributes US$34 million to Climate Investment Fund to support industrial change, climate strategies in low-income countries

The Swedish Minister for the Environment, Isabella Lövin, recently announced that Sweden plans to contribute SEK 300 million (US$34 million) to the World Bank's Climate Investment Fund (CIF) from 2020 to 2022.

The funds will be earmarked for a new CIF program on industrial change, intended to support the development of climate strategies, as well as enable important technological innovations for the heavy industry throughout the value chain in low-income countries.

Lövin stressed that by supporting other countries' work towards freedom from fossil fuels, "we can accelerate the trend towards zero emissions worldwide".

Including this latest commitment, Sweden has so far contributed a total of SEK 1,110 million (US$126 million) to the CIF.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Canada's IDRC and Sweden's Sida give US$10 million for 'Global South AI4COVID Response Program'

Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), has announced CA$13 million (US$10 million) in funding for eleven projects over two years as part of the 'Global South AI4COVID Response Program'.

These projects are intended to respond to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and to strengthen health systems in "Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa" using artificial intelligence (AI) and data science. 

According to the IDRC, the projects incorporate gender-responsive, culturally appropriate, and community-specific designs with the intention of informing policies to "support and build trust in AI and data science responses to epidemics".

Press release - IDRC

Sweden grants US$500,000 in emergency funds to help Ethiopian refugees fleeing to Sudan, emphasizes need for humanitarian support

In light of the recent conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region resulting in refugees fleeing to Sudan this month, on November 26, 2020, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) announced it has allocated about SEK 4 million (US$500,000) to the Church of Sweden, which is part of the ACT Alliance, "a global alliance of churches and church-related organizations for disaster relief, development and advocacy".

The funds come from the Rapid Response Mechanism, which is set up to respond within 24 hours to a request for humanitarian assistance, and the money will provide 30,000 refugees with clean water and sanitation, protection from violence, and psychosocial support.

Elisabet Hedin, the acting head of Sida’s humanitarian unit, explained that most of the refugees are women and children, and Hedin emphasized that "they are in poor condition, both physically and mentally, and need humanitarian support."

Experts estimate that the number of refugees can increase to 200,000 people if the conflict continues, and Sida says it will continue to monitor the situation.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden contributes additional US$8 million to UN effort against gender-based violence, forced genital cutting

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has allocated an additional SEK 75 million (US$8 million) in support of a UN program to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), with the goal of eradicating gender-based violence and forced genital cutting in 16 African countries by 2030.

The program will be implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in line with the Sustainability Development Goals and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. 

Dag Sundelin, Head of Sweden's Regional Team for SRHR at the Swedish Embassy in Zambia, highlighted, "The initiative is unique, there are no corresponding interventions against female genital mutilation that have such a broad geographical reach at a global, regional, and national level. It is a long-term effort that Sida has contributed to since 2018 and our continued support for the program means a lot to ensure that work does not stop now," during the COVID-19 crisis.

Every year, about three million girls remain at risk of gender-based violence and forced genital cutting. However, the UNFPA-UNICEF 2019 joint report showed evidence that the recent efforts to protect girls and women have been quite successful, through the adoption of new laws banning forced genital cutting in several countries.

This motivated Sida to allocate the extra funds to the program this year, after having contributed SEK 250 million (US$28 million) over the last three years.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Donor Tracker to host webinar on education in emergencies

Join the Donor Tracker on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at 15:00-16:00 CET for a webinar addressing education in emergencies, featuring experts from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a global fund and partnership to improve education in lower-income countries, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency.

The growth of protracted conflicts and the increasing prevalence of emergencies globally have impacted the educational opportunities of millions of children. Precarious humanitarian situations around the world have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. With just ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), amid a global pandemic, prioritizing the educational needs of the world’s most vulnerable children is more important than ever.

However, are donors dedicating sufficient attention to education in emergencies? Join the webinar for a discussion on financing needs, donor priorities, and policy trends in the sector.

This webinar complements our recently published report, ‘Decades of neglect: Donor financing for education in emergencies’.

Registration - Zoom

Report - Donor Tracker

Swedish minister appointed member of One Health Global Leaders Group to help reduce global antibiotic resistance

On behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Lena Hallengren (Sweden’s Minister for Health and Social Affairs) has been appointed to join the One Health Global Leaders Group, a high-level group initiated by the UN Secretary-General to promote global efforts to reduce antibiotic resistance.

Hallengren emphasized that, "Antibiotic resistance is sometimes referred to as the silent pandemic. It is gradually growing in silence but is now causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people globally every year." 

The One Health Global Leaders Group consists of 26 members who work to increase public support and political visibility for efforts to combat antibiotic resistance globally.

Other members include ministers from other UN member countries, representatives from the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, and the leaders of the WHO, FAO, and OIE.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Spain leads global joint statement to strengthen multilateralism

On November 10, 2020, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez hosted a high-level meeting in Madrid to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the UN. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and heads of state and government from Sweden, Canada, South Korea, Costa Rica, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Jordan, and Senegal virtually participated in this event. 

This group of donor and partner countries convened to publish the call to action ‘Joint Statement: Reinforcing Multilateralism Together', with the ambition of reinforcing multilateral institutions, advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and taking concrete measures to address global challenges in key areas such as global health, climate change, gender equality, and digitalization.

This initiative will be shared with other countries to actively mobilize the international community around the following goals:

  • Reduce inequality and leave no one behind;
  • Improve conditions for health, health preparedness, and effectiveness of global health systems;
  • Protect our planet;
  • Promote peace, security, and justice;
  • Defend human rights, democracy, and gender equality;
  • Take "advantage of the digital revolution"; and
  • Ensure sustainable financing.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

Sweden pledges US$8 million to combat food shortages, child malnourishment

Rising food prices during the COVID-19 crisis, alongside other factors such as failed harvests, droughts, conflicts, and political instability, have fueled hunger crises in several low-income countries around the world. It is currently estimated that 690 million people are affected by chronic food shortages, and many of them are children.

To ease the situation and help combat child malnutrition, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has allocated SEK 50 million (US$6 million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in support of humanitarian needs in Yemen, Burkina Faso, and Venezuela. In addition, Sida has allocated SEK 21 million (US$2 million) to the International Rescue Committee for their work in South Sudan and Cameroon.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden allocates additional US$16 million to address impact of COVID-19 crisis on SRHR

In response to global repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), the Swedish government has decided to allocate an additional SEK 140 million (US$16 million) to counteract the displacement effects of the pandemic on vital activities linked to SRHR, with a particular focus on the continent of Africa.

Peter Eriksson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, pointed out that child and maternal mortality rates are rising globally and women's rights are decreasing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Eriksson emphasized, "We cannot accept that development is regressing.”

Out of the SEK 140 million (US$16 million), SEK 100 million (US$11 million) will be administered through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The remaining SEK 40 million (US$5 million) will be used to support the implementation of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’s strategy for SRHR in sub-Saharan Africa.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden pledges additional US$8 million in support of UN peacebuilding and women's participation

In recognition of the 20th anniversary of UN’s Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security, and within the framework of its global COVID-19 response, Sweden has pledged to contribute an additional SEK 75 million (US$8 million) to the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

Peter Eriksson, Minister of International Development Cooperation, emphasized that "much remains to be done to achieve concrete results for people on the ground."

Sweden is one of the largest donors to the UN Peacebuilding Fund. The Fund, which aims 30% of its financing at gender equality, has successfully met this target in recent years.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden pledges US$20 million for new hunger-focused humanitarian support package in response to COVID-19

In response to the humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, on October 21, 2020, the Swedish government presented a new support package of SEK 170 million (US$20 million) against global hunger. The funds will primarily be allocated to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

It has been estimated that the number of people suffering from acute hunger as a result of the pandemic will double in 2020 and affect approximately 265 million people.

Peter Eriksson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, emphasized that we are facing the greatest hunger crisis ever, and that the climate, COVID-19, and hunger crises are all connected. Commenting on how more countries are reducing their humanitarian assistance as the need for it increases, he assured that Sweden will remain committed to its 1% of GNI target and is actively encouraging others to remain committed as well. 

In addition to the new support package, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has already committed SEK 189 million (US$22 million) to the WFP for 2020, including emergency food assistance and humanitarian air transport/logistics in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen. Sida’s agreement with WFP for the period 2019-2021 amounts to SEK 695 million (US$80 million).

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)