HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, one of the major development organisations in Switzerland, came into existence on 1 July 2011 with the merger of two organisations: Helvetas (founded 1955) and Intercooperation (founded 1982).
As a politically and denominationally neutral association, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is engaged with over 1,400 staff in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. A total of 156 staff at its offices in Zürich, Bern, Geneva and Balerna coordinate development projects, offer advisory services to governmental and non-governmental organisations, and raise awareness about the problems faced by people in developing countries.
HELVETAS is an international network of independent affiliate member organisations working in the field of development cooperation and emergency response. As a network, HELVETAS promotes the fundamental rights of individuals and groups and strengthens governments and other duty bearers in their service provision. The affiliated members share a common vision and mission and subscribe to common working principles and policies. The members implement joint development programmes and adhere to a common strategy including defined working approaches and thematic areas of intervention.
How HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation works
The objective of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is to help create a fairer world in which the basic needs of all humans are satisfied and human rights are protected. In order to achieve this goal, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation works on five levels:
Development Project and Humanitarian Aid: HELVETAS provides support. It enables people to change their own lives and the life of their community. HELVETAS’ approach is to build local capacities to manage all aspects of projects – from planning to implementation to evaluation. In emergency situations HELVETAS provides humanitarian assistance on the ground and supports sustainable reconstruction efforts.
Advisory Services: HELVETAS provides effective assistance. Its experts advise and support private, state, multilateral and civil society organisations – providing professional expertise, skills training, and sharing experiences more widely through international networks.
Information and Awareness Raising: HELVETAS informs the Swiss public about its own work and highlights global connections and focuses attention on social and environmental inequalities. At schools and events, in exhibitions and publications, they point out to Swiss citizens the positive steps that they can take, whether as consumers, volunteers, donors or voters.
Fair Trade: In its projects and together with the private sector partners, HELVETAS promotes Fair Trade of products such as cocoa, rice and cotton. Its own FairShop sells organic and ethical goods from developing countries.
Development Policy: HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation takes a public stance on development issues through campaigns, participation in global networks, its statements or petitions, within Switzerland as a supporting organisation in Alliance Sud and internationally as a member of Alliance 2015.
Areas HELVETAS Works In
Environment and Climate Change
HELVETAS helps people to protect themselves from environmental risks and to develop appropriate cropping systems, and promotes the sustainable use and conservation of soils, forests and water resources.
HELVETAS works with the people to develop measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. HELVETAS campaigns for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the industrialised countries and emerging economies that are mainly responsible for climate change. HELVETAS critically monitors Swiss climate policy and its experts are involved in writing the UN’s IPCC report.
Water and Infrastructure
Access to clean water and sanitary facilities is a prerequisite for a healthy life and for regional development. Improved water supply, the construction of latrines and accompanying hygiene education, along with advocacy work in favour of fair water policies, are part of HELVETAS’s core work.
HELVETAS builds roads, paths and suspension bridges to give rural people access to education, health and better income.
Through its projects, HELVETAS promotes careful and sustainable natural husbandry including efficient irrigation, organic agriculture and diversification. HELVETAS helps farmers to participate in local markets and gives them access to international Fair Trade buyers. HELVETAS also sells Fair Trade products at its own FairShop.
By creating incentives for saving and facilitating access to micro-credit, HELVETAS enables farmers and small businesses to make small investments to develop their production. By this means, agriculture becomes a force for development.
Skills Development and Education
HELVETAS provides young adults from rural areas with customised vocational training in agriculture or in manual and technical professions tailored to labour market requirements.
Expert advice and access to micro-credit help them to establish small businesses and promote an entrepreneurial attitude. HELVETAS also campaigns for better basic education and funds teacher training and the development of relevant teaching materials. Special attention is paid to equal participation by girls and women.
Governance and Peace
HELVETAS works towards a society in which all people have equal opportunities, are allowed to express their opinions freely and participate in democratic decision-making processes.
HELVETAS strengthens the ability of men and women to organize and to assert their fundamental rights. HELVETAS also helps authorities to fulfil their responsibilities towards their citizens, e.g. through participative planning, timely provision of services and transparent taxation. HELVETAS is committed to peaceful conflict resolution. With cultural projects, HELVETAS encourages dialogue between cultures through its projects and also promotes political awareness.See more