Swiss Development Agency in Mongolia
SDC started its intervention in Mongolia in 2001 with humanitarian aid to assist most vulnerable people to overcome the harsh and devastating winters. Initially, SDC applied a traditional approach by providing in-kind relief to the victims of the ‘dzud’, food and clothing, feed for the animals and shelters for homeless poor. Since (in vast countries like Mongolia) administration and transportation consumed significant parts of the relief budgets of many donors, SDC introduced the innovative In-Cash support programmes to herders, based on experience in Eastern Europe. The main principle of this approach is to provide carefully selected beneficiaries with cash grants through the local banks and leave them with a free choice of how to spend it. This approach was well accepted among authorities and other stakeholders as a very effective and efficient tool for dealing with disaster and preparedness. More than 7600 herder families benefited from the Cash for Herders Projects, implemented in four aimags.
While addressing the emergency situations, SDC in Mongolia gradually shifted to broader development cooperation, focusing its activities more on promoting economic and governmental autonomy, improving production conditions, helping to solve environmental problems, and providing better access to education, basic health care and culture.
The SDC is supporting Mongolia in the implementation of a national reform programme based on decentralisation, encouraging citizens to participate in the political process. Switzerland is also helping to introduce sustainable livestock and other farming activities in the context of efforts to improve economic conditions in rural areas.
Mongolia finds itself at a critical juncture of the development process. Following a relatively peaceful period of democratisation and transformation from a socialist system to a market economy, it is in the midst of a mining boom. The country’s future will depend on its ability to translate this new source of wealth into sustainable and socially equitable economic growth. Having accepted this challenge, Mongolia has launched an important reform programme.
Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Mongolia
The new strategy was also revised in line with the overall goal of the Swiss Federal Council’s Dispatch to Parliament on International Cooperation 2013-2016 and its two strategic objectives: (i) Ensure equitable access to resources and services to the people; and (ii) Support the transition to democracy and a market economy.
The strategic goal of the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2013-2016 is to contribute to equitable and sustainable social and economic development in Mongolia. In order to achieve this, the strategy is focusing on three key domains:
1. Agriculture and Food
2. Vocational Education and Training;
3. State Reform, Local Governance and Civic Participation
Experience in Mongolia has shown that ecology needs to be combined with economy in a reinforced “green domain” in order to improve the livelihoods of the rural population. An entirely new domain will be dedicated to improving the quality of vocational education and short-term skills training so as to allow young people in rural areas and low-skilled adults to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the unfolding economic boom. Successful decentralisation reforms will be decisive for development outcomes in all sectors, which is why SDC’s investment in the “governance domain” will expand considerably in the coming period.
The Agriculture and Food Security Domain will aim to increase incomes and create better livelihoods for vulnerable rural populations; the Vocational Education and Training Domain will seek to improve the employability of rural men and women; and the State Reform, Local Governance and Civic Participation Domain will foster more effective, efficient and fair local governments, satisfied citizens, and a genuinely representative and effective civil society. The strategy will be underpinned by the mainstreaming of gender equality throughout all SDC interventions.
A strong alignment with national development priorities and increased use of country systems is considered essential for the next programme period. This implies that: (i) The programme must focus on topics with a high chance of uptake and financing through the government; (ii) Switzerland will insist on joint planning, appraisal, implementation and financing for all interventions; (iii) Democratic mechanisms that direct public resources to priority areas and services which benefit the poor must be strengthened; (iv) More joint projects with multilateral partners will be pursued; and (v) SDC self-implementation will be phased out.