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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)

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency seeks to increase field offices' staffing

In its final report of a series to the government on the COVID-19 crisis' impacts on official development assistance (ODA), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) announced it would like to increase its staffing in field offices. In the report, Sida recognized the difficulty of following up on projects and actions in the field, particularly due to the travel restrictions during the pandemic.

In order to remain in close dialogue with partners and other actors, going forward, Sida would like to have more staff in the field, both Swedish as well as local employees. According to the report, additional field staffing would improve local knowledge, increase the capacity of local actors, and strengthen the follow-ups of specific projects.

Carin Jämtin, Director-General of Sida, pointed out that the need for greater fieldwork could be established through partner organizations, Swedish civil society organizations, and other third parties, both digitally and on-site.

Since August and with the exception of Guatemala, a majority of Sida staff members have returned to the field offices around the world.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

As pandemic threatens to undo decades of anti-poverty work, role of ODA is even more critical, says Sweden

In its final report to the Swedish government on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, published October 15, 2020, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) noted that, since the start of the pandemic, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased dramatically and progress made over recent years at reducing poverty is currently at risk. As a consequence, Sida highlighted that the role of official development assistance (ODA) has become increasingly important for Sweden’s partner countries.

Director-General Carin Jämtin of Sida underlined that the pandemic "is not just a global health crisis, but a wider global crisis that exacerbates an already strained situation in many countries", and that many people in low-income and conflict-affected countries are at risk of falling back into poverty. Thus, Jämtin emphasized that Sweden needs to support long-term and environmentally-sustainable recovery in partner countries in order to be better equipped for future crises.

By September 2020, Sida had allocated SEK 1.3 billion (US$149 million) to combat the effects of COVID-19, and a large proportion Sida projects have been adjusted in dialogue with partners to take the pandemic into account. About half of this amount has been allocated toward strengthening health systems and alleviating the direct consequences of the COVID-19 virus. The remaining half has been allocated toward tackling the indirect consequences of the pandemic, e.g., effects on economic development, employment, and poverty.

Examples of Swedish support to combat the effects of COVID-19 include programs implemented by the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and UN-Habitat. 

Examples of Swedish support that have been adapted include programs implemented by the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden announces cash grant program to Sudan worth US$25 million; funds to be distributed to individuals through mobile network

In light of the increasing number of Sudanese people in need of humanitarian support during the COVID-19 crisis, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has decided to provide the Sudanese population with SEK 218 million (US$25 million) in cash grants to be disbursed via the country’s mobile phone network.

The Swedish support will be implemented through the World Bank’s Sudan Family Support Program, in collaboration with the Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and multi-ministerial Digital Transformation Agency. A cash grant of US$5 per person per month will be disbursed, covering 80 percent of the Sudanese population of 41 million people. The support could play a significant role in the stabilization of Sudan's fragile economy, while constituting a clear declaration of support for Sudan's democratic transition by the international community.

Sida's Director-General Carin Jämtin underlined the importance of cash support, "even if it is limited, paid directly to the person via a mobile phone," because it allows people to have more control of their finances and deciding what they need. According to Jämtin, this type of development assistance is becoming more common "because it is cost-effective. It reduces the number of intermediaries but also the risk of corruption, which is very important."

Sida’s support for the Sudan Family Support Program is complemented by an additional SEK 7 million (US$1 million) from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs Environment. Total funding available for the program is about US$2.0 billion through 15 additional development partners, including Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK.

Sudan is one of Sida’s partner countries, and in 2019, Sweden increased its official development assistance for Sudan by SEK 400 million (US$46 million) in support of the country’s transition to democracy.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Data show Swedish ODA to fight climate crisis more than tripled between 2014 and 2019

Between 2014 and 2019, Sweden more than tripled its official development assistance (ODA) aimed at assisting low-income countries in their efforts to reduce emissions, improve climate adaptation, strengthen capacity building, and increase technology transfer.

In 2019, Sweden’s ODA for climate finance amounted to SEK 7.5 billion (US$861 million), of which SEK 2.3 billion (US$264 million) was earmarked for climate adaptation measures, SEK 1.1 billion (US$126 million) for emission reduction, and SEK 4.4.billion (US$505 million) for cross-cutting climate measures (i.e., both emission reduction and adaptation). The total amount designated for climate finance represented a 3.5 times increase since 2014 and a 20% increase since 2018.

Minister for Environment and Climate, Isabella Lövin, underlined that climate leadership is not just about leading nationally but also internationally, and that through their climate work, they "have shown that Sweden can lead by significantly reducing emissions while helping poorer countries adapt their societies" to climate change as well.

Sweden is one of the largest per capita contributors to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). In addition, Sweden provides significant contributions to other multilateral climate funding mechanisms such as the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, as well as through its regular regional and bilateral development cooperation mechanisms.

Press release - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Swedish government evaluation committee proposes methods for optimizing ODA

In a recent op-ed, two representatives of Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA), a Swedish government committee tasked with independently evaluating Sweden's official development assistance (ODA), argued for making Swedish ODA more effective by implementing financial reforms in three separate areas.

Jan Pettersson and Númi Östlund from EBA argue that Swedish ODA is currently exposed to various financial risks that reduce its effectiveness. As per the instructions from the Swedish Central Bank, it is important to ensure that every ODA penny makes the maximum contribution to poverty reduction and "create the conditions for better living conditions for people living in poverty and oppression". Moreover, in order to strengthen public support for ODA, Sweden must be able to demonstrate the impact of ODA in its partner countries.

The two authors warned, "ODA is an activity with high risks. It is challenging to finance operations in environments where corruption is commonplace and there is a lack of basic infrastructure and functioning institutions. ODA is largely about contributing money and knowledge where other actors cannot operate. It is crucial that ODA do not fund things that can be financed in any other way, that ODA is."

Pettersson and Östlund argue that it is important to distinguish between risks: those associated with difficult working environments and those related to decision-making or donor systems. Financial risks fall in the latter category, and could, according to the authors, be addressed through three separate measures:

  • Abolishing the 1% of GNI target for ODA: This would reduce the volatility of Swedish ODA related to the uncertainty and volatility of GNI forecasts. It would also reduce the impact on ODA volatility related to other components of ODA such as costs related to asylum seekers. This effect was also noted by the National Audit Office in a recent review of Swedish ODA. In the 2020 Fall Amending Budget, presented in September, SEK 750 million (US$86 million) was reallocated to the traditional ODA budget from cost reductions related to asylum seekers, to be spent before the end of 2020. To increase the predictability of the ODA budget, the authors argue that “the government should agree on and communicate clear principles for how to deal with major changes in the budget. This applies in particular to changes within the financial year.”
  • Reducing currency risks for Swedish ODA: Swedish ODA is denominated in the Swedish Krona and the exchange rate against major currencies is often susceptible to large fluctuations, the effects of which currently have to be borne by implementing partners. Utilizing available financial instruments to hedge against the currency risks would reduce this burden on them. Again, this issue has been pointed out by the National Audit Office, but very few concrete actions have been taken yet by the Swedish government to address the problem. Pettersson and Östlund argue that the Swedish government should utilize both the expertise of the Swedish National Debt Office as well as public financial guarantees developed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to effectively reduce the currency risks associated with Swedish ODA.
  • Reducing the role of the Swedish banking system: Following recent scandals of money laundering, Swedish banks have become increasingly restrictive when it comes to international financial transactions. These measures have also affected ODA transfers authorized by the Swedish government, both in terms of delivery as well as increasing costs related to bank charges and foreign exchange transactions. The authors argue that Sida should support Swedish banks with the relevant information required for the banks to enable these transactions in high-risk countries at lower costs. 

Jan Pettersson is the Managing Director of the EBA Secretariat and Númi Östlund is a Program Manager at the EBA Secretariat.

Op-ed – Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish)

Sweden launches new version of Openaid website with ODA details; more interactive features to come

On September 30, 2020, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) launched a new version of its website Openaid.se, which hosts detailed information about official development assistance (ODA) from Swedish ministries and other authorities.

The new version has a different layout and contains improved search functions and more up-to-date information. Moreover, it is faster and more user-friendly than the previous version.

This is the first step in a process of further developing the Openaid website. Additional features will be added over the coming months, including a map, export capabilities, improved publication archives, and new data. The website was originally developed by Sida on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the framework of the so-called Transparency Guarantee for Swedish ODA, which was adopted in 2010.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden contributes US$11 million to Gavi for improving global access to COVID-19 vaccine

On September 30, 2020, Sweden announced it would contribute SEK 100 million (US$11 million) to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance to help improve access to a future COVID-19 vaccine in low- and middle-income countries.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven made the announcement during a side event at the opening of the 75th UN General Assembly (UNGA), focusing on the need for global access to diagnostics, treatment, and vaccines against COVID-19. The meeting was organized by the UN Secretary-General, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UK, and South Africa.

The grant will be distributed through the COVAX AMC mechanism (which supports lower-middle and low-income countries in the COVAX Facility) and be in addition to the SEK 350 million (US$40 million) annual contribution that Sweden makes to Gavi for improving access to life-saving vaccinations in the world’s poorest countries.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Wary of shrinking global democratic space, Sweden strengthens commitment to democracy in strategic frameworks

In response to the recent shrinking space for democratic movements around the world, Sweden has decided to update its existing strategy for development cooperation in the areas of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law (applicable from 2018-2022). The revised strategy will reflect Sweden’s ambition since 2019 to strengthen the focus on democracy in its development cooperation.

Sweden also commissioned the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to further develop and strengthen its focus on democracy in its development cooperation.

The Center Party and the Liberal Party stand behind this decision, as part of the 'January agreement' with the government.

Press release - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Sweden adopts new strategy for cooperation with UN's OCHA

On September 24, 2020, Sweden adopted a new strategy for its development cooperation with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) from 2020 to 2022. Sweden is OCHA’s largest donor with almost SEK 1.5 billion (US$172 million) annually, and OCHA is a key humanitarian partner for the government to help save lives, alleviate distress, and maintain human dignity for people in crisis.

Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation, emphasized OCHA's unique role in coordinating humanitarian assistance, which has been crucial in the global response COVID-19 crisis: "Every penny and every minute counts."

The new strategy’s objectives are to strengthen OCHA's coordination of humanitarian support and ensure that OCHA's humanitarian responses include policy development, increased humanitarian funding, and gender equality. 

Press release - Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Swedish ODA gets unexpected bump in 2021 Budget Bill

On September 21, 2020, the Swedish government presented its 2021 Budget Bill to parliament. Despite previous expectations of a declining allocation for Swedish official development assistance (ODA), due to a slowdown in economic growth and political pressures to reduce ODA levels, the allocation for 2021 is marginally higher than in 2020.

Two factors are behind this slight increase. The first is that the economic growth forecast has risen since the Spring Amending Budget (although it remains lower than one year ago, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). The second factor is that rather than giving in to pressures from the Moderate Party and the Sweden Democrats, the government and its cooperation parties agreed to maintain the parliament’s long-standing commitment to maintaining ODA levels equivalent to 1% of gross national income (GNI). The 2021 Budget Bill thus proposes a total allocation of SEK 52.3 billion (US$6.0 billion). The 2020 budget contained an allocation of SEK 52.1 billion (US$6.0 billion).

Civil society organizations praised the decision to increase the budget.

Priorities for ODA have remained stable in the 2021 Budget Bill, aligned with the thematic areas of Sweden's ODA policy framework: human rights and democracy; gender equality; environment and climate; peace; economic development; migration; health; education and research; and humanitarian assistance.

Notably, anti-corruption work has been given higher priority, and stronger expectations will be placed on several partner countries to implement the rule of law (in light of setbacks for democratic development in these countries). However, social protection systems, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), work on gender equality, and combatting violence against girls and women may need additional Swedish ODA interventions. Finally, Swedish priorities for peace, security, and humanitarian assistance were reflected in the international debate on the 'triple nexus' interaction between humanitarian work, development cooperation, and peace-building support. 

Another notable development in the 2021 Budget Bill was that the allocation for domestic asylum costs (which have in previous budgets somewhat crowded out traditional ODA) has been reduced by SEK 1.0 billion (US$115 million), now totaling SEK 1.4 billion (US$161 million), leaving additional funds available for international assistance. As a result, humanitarian assistance has been given an increased allocation of SEK 100 million (US$11 million) in the 2021 Budget Bill and the allocation for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has also been augmented by a similar amount, to around SEK 2.0 billion (US$229 million). The development finance institution Swedfund received a new allocation of SEK 1.0 billion (US$115 million), slightly less than what was provisionally stated for 2021 in the 2020 budget, reflecting the recent economic slowdown in low-income countries.

News article – Concord (in Swedish)

Nordic prime ministers call for Nordic collaboration in a stronger UN

In a co-written opinion piece, all five Nordic prime ministers called for more Nordic collaboration in a stronger UN. The Nordic countries give their full support to the proposed declaration and will further strengthen their commitment to ensuring it is implemented in six main areas.  

  1. A stronger and reformed UN: The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for a stronger multilateral system that can better meet the needs of tomorrow. They support the Secretary General’s wish to make the UN more effective.
  2. Support the UN in dealing with the ongoing pandemic: They give the UN, the World Health Organization, and the vaccine alliance Gavi their full support in the work to ensure global access to a COVID-19 vaccine. Nordic thinking of universal values such as human rights, the rule of law, and equality should be fundamental in addressing the pandemic.
  3. Sustainable reconstruction: The global reconstruction following the pandemic must be used to return better, stronger, and greener. They support better implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.  
  4. A just and inclusive reconstruction: They argue that the UN needs more measures to counter systematic discrimination that has a divisive effect on society. They emphasize human rights and women’s rights, which includes protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as supporting women’s financial position to strengthen the economy.  
  5. Strengthening common security: With Norway in the Security Council in 2021–2022, the Nordic prime ministers believe their countries can once again contribute to promoting a more efficient and open Security Council. The countries will continue to demand the implementation of the resolution on women, peace, and security. 
  6. Nuclear disarmament: They believe that multilateral cooperation must be used to find solutions, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty is the backbone of the work on nuclear disarmament.

Op-ed – Aftenposten (in Norwegian)

Donor Tracker seeks feedback on how to better serve advocacy community

The Donor Tracker team wants to better understand its users' experience and to gather ideas about how we can make the Donor Tracker even more valuable to the global development community throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond. That's where we could use your help. We've put together a short survey to ask you directly about how you use the Donor Tracker, which content and features you find most useful, and the kinds of things you would like to see. Your responses will shape and inform new features that we bring to the website.

Survey - Donor Tracker

Twitter - Donor Tracker

Nordic ministers release statement emphasizing importance of human rights, democracy in battling COVID-19 crisis

A group of Nordic ministers co-published a statement on what is crucial for success in addressing the COVID-19 crisis.  

The ministers see themselves as champions of international cooperation, solidarity, human rights, and democracy in defending against the pandemic. They are concerned that some governments are taking advantage of the situation and using the pandemic as an excuse to violate human rights, reduce democratic space, and to redraw the "global playing field". 

They believe four things are necessary to succeed in addressing the crisis:

  1. International mobilization;  

  2. Ensuring transparency and access to reliable information; 

  3. Ensuring that gender is considered in the global response, including addressing gender-based violence and protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights; and  

  4. Ensuring that international standards and principles are upheld in terms of human rights. 

The ministers wrote that they are ready to share the Nordic experiences of building trust by combining leadership with openness and cooperation between national and local authorities as well as civil society. They state that they are also prepared to speak out and use their experiences when human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and equality between women and men come under attack. 

Press release – The Norwegian Government

As political turmoil over electoral fraud in Belarus swells, Sweden freezes additional funding

Due to the recent political unrest following the elections in Belarus-- during which the state has detained and used violence against those protesting electoral fraud-- the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has now frozen its support for three official development assistance (ODA) projects with which Belarus is involved.

Prior to September 10, Sida had already frozen some funds (implemented by the International Monetary Fund and International Finance Corporation), and in light of the escalating political situation, further funding, implemented by the Raoul Wallenberg Insititute in Belarus has now also been suspended.

In total, the frozen amounts sum up to SEK 7 million (US$1 million), out of the SEK 102 million (US$12 million) forecasted for 2020. At the same time, Sida is looking at how democratic forces in the country can be further strengthened considering the current situation.

Christina Danielsson, Head of the Eastern Europe Unit at Sida, commented that Sida wants to continue working with The Raoul Wallenberg Institute, "but at this point, we need to freeze the remaining support in Belarus. We have had a good dialogue and agreed on the way forward in the short time left of the operation."

Sweden has supported democratic development, including on gender equality, anti-discrimination, freedom of expression, and democratic organizational culture, in Belarus for over 25 years.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

As five-year agreements expire, Sweden assesses effectiveness of partnerships with humanitarian organizations

With its five-year partnership agreements in the area of humanitarian support up for renewal, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has decided to review its strategic partnerships with 20 humanitarian organizations.

Those up for review include seven multilateral organizations, six international organizations, five Swedish NGOs, the Swedish Red Cross, and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB). The review will be completed before the end of the current contract period which is at the end of 2020.

The objectives of Sweden’s humanitarian assistance are to save lives, alleviate distress, and maintain human dignity. Although Sida has found that a majority of the humanitarian organizations they support have shown positive results in these areas, Sida constantly reviews its collaborations based on both efficiency and relevance.

During the review, Sida also assessed the organizations based on the humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality and considered how effectively the organizations have been able to reach people in need.

Three Swedish organizations have shown shortcomings in their results and will not be considered for a renewal of the expiring five-year agreement. Sida is currently in dialogue with these organizations, and a formal decision is expected shortly.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden's Christian Democrats propose using ODA to build "humane" prisons abroad

In a controversial proposal presented on September 7, 2020, by Sweden's Christian Democrats, the party suggested allocating SEK 1.8 billion (US$207 million) from the official development assistance (ODA) budget toward constructing prisons in partner countries where foreign citizens convicted in Sweden could serve their sentences. The party also proposed to invest SEK 400 million (US$46 million) to rent space in prisons where foreign citizens convicted in Sweden could serve their sentences.

According to Andreas Carlson, the party’s legal policy spokesman, "the vast majority know that the Christian Democratic party is a staunch supporter of a generous aid policy and we stand by the one percent target.” He emphasized that the ODA would be utilized “to make the prison service more humane". “About 30 percent of those in Swedish prisons are foreign nationals, these are Romanians, Afghans, Somalis, people from the Middle East and North Africa”, countries where prison conditions, according to Carlson, do not meet even basic human rights standards.

In an interview, the leader of the Christian Democratic party, Ebba Busch Thor, pointed the incarceration of foreign nationals as the reason that Swedish prisons are currently overcapacity. They should serve their sentences in their countries of origin, said Thor.

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Peter Eriksson, is one of many who has been highly critical of the Christian Democrat’s proposal. Eriksson said he did not take the proposal seriously, decrying the idea of using Swedish development assistance funds for anything besides "alleviating distress" abroad.

Furthermore, the proposal may not be in line with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee's (DAC’s) guidelines for ODA. "You can probably build prisons, but not if the intention is to send prisoners from Sweden to those countries," commented Eriksson.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

News article – Sveriges Radio (in Swedish)

Sweden-sponsored review reveals Swedish ODA projects based on inadequate climate assessments

The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has revealed that environmental and climate assessments undertaken during the project development phase are inadequate and need to be improved. The weaknesses were exposed during a review commissioned by the Swedish government.

All Swedish official development assistance (ODA) projects must consider not only their expected impact on poverty reduction, but also take into account effects on human rights, conflict, gender equality, environment, and climate. The recent review looked specifically at projects expected to have a considerable climate impact, such as projects focusing on industrial development, entrepreneurship, water and sanitation, energy, agriculture, banks, and financial services.

Ulrika Åkesson, Sida's representative for environment and climate, stated that the review revealed that "only one fifth of the projects had carried out an environmental and climate assessment according to all three criteria required: risks, opportunities, impact on the environment and climate". In particular, Ulrika Åkesson noted that most projects had only looked at the environmental and climate risks, considering the 'do-no-harm' approach, and refrained from considering the potential to actually improve the environment and reduce the impacts of climate change.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)

Sweden provides US$10 million to low-income farmers combating effects of COVID-19 including food insecurity

The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) allocated SEK 90 million (US$10 million) to support farmers living in poverty who have suffered financially due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The support will be allocated through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) over multiple years through two separate agreements: (i)

  1. SEK 50 million (US$6 million) over two years to the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, supporting food markets and services for the rural poor farmers; and
  2. SEK 40 million (US$5 million) over four years to the Financing Facility for Remittances, supporting the rural poor farmers in using remittances from abroad more effectively.

Sida’s Director-General Carin Jämtin explained that remittances (a term which typically refers to money that migrants abroad send to family members in their home countries) have become increasingly important in the last years. With the COVID-19 crisis decreasing remittance volumes, it has become "even more important to manage the inflows more efficiently so that the remittances contribute to sustainable economic development” and can help combat food insecurity. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Sweden has contributed over SEK 1.3 billion (US$149 million) through Sida to combat the effects of COVID-19 through 86 different operations in 2020-2022, about half of which directly aim to counteract the spread of COVID-19, while the remaining half are operations to mitigate the broader societal effects of the pandemic. In addition, 287 programmatic operations have been modified in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 31, 2020, Sida submitted an interim report to the government on the impact of the pandemic on its official development assistance (ODA). A final report will be shared with the government on October 15. Meanwhile, Sida continues its support for combating the COVID-19 crisis in low-income countries, and additional decisions on new and/or modified operations are still expected.

Press release – Sida (in Swedish)

Sweden increases support for Lebanon

Following the recent explosion in the port of Beirut, Sweden has decided to increase its support for victims of the devastation by close to SEK17 million (US$2 million). In addition to its previous grant to the Swedish Red Cross (SEK5 million; US$537,000), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has decided to provide new funding to Save the Children (SEK5 million; US$537,000), the International Rescue Committee (SEK9 million; US$967,000), and Action Against Hunger (SEK3 million; US$322,000).

"Vulnerable families should receive cash grants so that they can pay rent and have somewhere to live, but also to afford repairs to their destroyed homes”, said Carin Jämtin, Sida's Director-General. "We focus on supporting children and young people who are at risk of being exploited in different ways and, for example, being forced into child labor. The needs remain very large."

In collaboration with local partners, Sweden is also working to improve access to food and livelihoods. In addition, small business owners will receive cash grants to support them in restarting their businesses.

In total, Sweden has now provided almost SEK22 million (US$2 million) in direct support to Lebanon since the explosion.

Press release – TT (in Swedish)