Rohingya Mädchen im Flüchtlingslager Cox’s Bazar. | © Patrick Rohr / Helvetas
Zürich – 01. June 2018

Helvetas enables almost 3.5 million people to build better lives

© Patrick Rohr / Helvetas

In 2017, the Swiss development organization Helvetas supported almost 3.5 million people in 28 countries in areas such as water, agriculture and peace. Helvetas also achieved important successes in basic education and vocational training last year. The Annual Report 2017 is now online.

Together with Helvetas, almost 3.5 million people took steps towards a better life in 2017. For example, well over one million women, men and children have gained access to schools, hospitals and markets thanks to bridges and roads. Around 840,000 people - about half of them women - have learned how to market their agricultural products and how to use more efficient, sustainable production methods. More than 300,000 people have gained access to clean drinking water or sanitary facilities with Helvetas.

In 2017, the independent development organization focused among other things on providing vocational training for young people - with access to the local labor market.

Education - the key to self-determined life

The population is growing worldwide and more and more young people are entering the job market. But often they lack the right education or recognized qualifications to find a job and earn a living. Empowering these young people is one of our priorities. Last year alone, more than 360,000 individuals attended a primary school or literacy course or completed vocational training with the support of Helvetas.

"Our programs provide learning opportunities not only for young men and women, but also for authorities and politicians," explains Melchior Lengsfeld, Managing Director of Helvetas. For example, inspired by the success of Helvetas' practical vocational training projects, government agencies in Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Benin and Nepal have begun to gear their programs more specifically to demand on the labor market.

Relying on the Swiss dual vocational education system, Helvetas consistently supports training for occupations that are in demand on the local labor market. Authorities, professional associations, employers and training institutes work together from the start. Trained cooks, hairdressers and cabinetmakers are successfully integrated into the job market, as one story from last year's Helvetas poster campaign shows: A son of a small farmer and grandson of a subsistence farmer can earn a living and support his family by training and working as a cook.

Emergency aid for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Helvetas is mainly active in long-term development cooperation, but is also increasingly involved in emergency aid - whenever the organization has experience, local staff and a network of local partners in countries and regions affected by disasters. The aim is always the fastest possible transition from emergency aid to sustainable cooperation. This is also the case in Bangladesh. Together with international partners, Helvetas supplied the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar with emergency aid in autumn 2017. Helvetas continues to support the refugees - among other things, urgently needed latrines and kitchens powered by biogas are being built in the camps.

As one of the few Swiss aid organizations accredited by Bangladesh to support the Rohingya refugees around Cox's Bazar, Helvetas is also responsible for managing part of the refugee camp. On behalf of the UN refugee organization UNHCR, Helvetas looks after around 70,000 refugees, informs them about dangers such as heavy rainfall or landslides and explains where they can move if the current location becomes too dangerous. At the same time, families are informed about hospitals, therapy and other services. Helvetas coordinates the activities of the various aid actors and ensures that the poorest families are cared for first. Additional projects to promote income generation are being developed.

Helvetas Annual Report 2017

More about the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh

Further information:

Coordinator Media Relations
Katrin Hafner

+41 44 368 67 79
Head Communications
Matthias Herfeldt

+41 44 368 65 48
+41 76 338 59 38

Images for download (The images may only be used in this context and with copyright reference - or after consultation with Helvetas)

Helvetas - a partner for true change
Truly changing lives
Change takes place where people have decided to break new ground. Teófilo Caraballo, for example. He made it possible for his family to drink clean water from their own tap.