Zimbabwe and Zambia

In line with Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy for the 2021–24 period, the Southern Africa programme now prioritises two countries: Zimbabwe and Zambia. The programme focuses on achieving food security, providing access to high-quality services, especially healthcare, and strengthening civil society and public institutions.

Map showing Zimbabwe and Zambia in Southern Africa.
The Cooperation Strategy 2023–26 focuses on two countries: Zimbabwe and Zambia. © FDFA

Zambia and Zimbabwe are landlocked neighbours in Southern Africa. Their prospects for development and ability to compete globally depend heavily on regional integration and the progress of neighbouring states. Both countries are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Zambia and Zimbabwe have a wealth of natural resources and a relatively well-educated young population. However, growing inequality, poverty and climate change are undermining stability.

The Cooperation Programme 2023–26 is concerned with fighting inequality, alleviating poverty, building communities' resilience, increasing food security and improving access to services, especially healthcare. The programme also aims to increase political participation and establish accountable and resilient public institutions.

Food security and income

Switzerland aims, in particular, to improve the prospects of women and young people in both rural and urban areas to enable them to earn an income and ensure their food security. In order to achieve this, action has been taken along the value chain comprising smallholder farmers and other stakeholders.

Key initiatives include facilitating access to new financial and insurance services and building marketable skills, which also promote economic growth and provide security against climate events, for example.

Other priorities include developing, promoting and mainstreaming climate-resilient, nutrient-rich crops and climate-smart agricultural practices.

Connections are also being established between rural and urban areas with a view to facilitating market access.

Agriculture and food security

Private sector development and financial services

High-quality services and shock-responsive systems

High-quality services and shock-responsive systems contribute to better health and greater resilience, especially among disadvantaged groups.

Protecting and advancing the right to sexual and reproductive health is an important action area. Switzerland's work to date has reduced the incidence of HIV in both countries, which has resulted in a more comprehensive approach to healthcare.

Key actions include conducting policy dialogue with a view to delivering integrated health services to a higher standard of quality and increasing national spending on social and disaster protection mechanisms.

Switzerland is trying to build and enhance shock-responsive systems with a view to strengthening communities' resilience to disasters.

Health – a prerequisite for development

Civil society and state institutions

Human rights and democratic governance are crucial to long-term development and peace. Conflict and violence are more likely to erupt in countries where state institutions are ineffective, corruption is widespread and the rule of law weak.

Switzerland intends to help strengthen democratic governance and human rights in Zimbabwe, and subsequently in Zambia, by supporting elected national and local governments and independent oversight bodies, in delivering on and being accountable in their remits and respecting human rights.

People's fundamental rights are crucial to resolving conflicts, defusing tensions, promoting economic growth and protecting human dignity. To help communities shape their own future, Switzerland actively promotes the participation of women and young people, in particular, in decision-making processes, including decisions on business and the economy.

Good governance

Cross-cutting themes

Climate change, gender equality and governance

Switzerland's projects address climate change, which is considered to be a threat multiplier. They promote climate-resilient solutions and systems to reduce the adverse effects of climate change on communities.

Switzerland also works to achieve gender equality by encouraging women to participate in decision-making and opinion-forming processes and improving conditions for women living in poverty.

Switzerland promotes participation in decision-making for all segments of society and advocates for responsible and accountable governments and bodies.

Gender equality

Climate change and the environment

Other issues


Art and culture contribute to freedom of expression, peacebuilding and sustainable development. One per cent of the Cooperation Programme budget is used to promote culture, engage with young people and raise awareness of crucial issues among communities and decision-makers.

Art and culture – drivers of social change

Approach and partners

An important new component of the Cooperation Programme is closer cooperation with central and local governments in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Switzerland is also cooperating with UN organisations, NGOs and academia on issues such as humanitarian aid, strengthening democracy and sensitive health matters. Engagement with the private sector is also key to achieving innovation and development results.

Current projects

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Community-Based Chronic disease Care Lesotho (ComBaCaL)

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2025

Non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) are the number one cause of death globally. There is a lack of scientifically validated prevention and care models in low- and middle-income countries. This research project, combining research excellency from Switzerland and Lesotho, will develop, test, validate, improve and up-scale an innovative eHealth NCD prevention and care model in health facilities and communities in Lesotho and beyond.

Impact Linked Financing for high-impact organisations suf-fering from the COVID-19 crisis

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2028

The Impact-Linked Finance Fund (ILFF) addresses major challenges, which private-sector organisations creating strong positive impact for vulnerable communities are facing due to COVID-19. These high-impact organisations (HIOs) will benefit greatly from an innovative financing approach that rewards them directly for verified outcomes. The project will focus on HIOs in Eastern and Southern Africa suffering from the COVID-19 crisis and providing important sustainable services at affordable prices to the poor.

The Swiss Capacity Building Facility

01.10.2020 - 31.12.2026

The Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF) is a Swiss technical assistance financing facility, uniting the expertise of key actors of the Swiss financial sector and of partners engaged in financial inclusion. The SCBF fosters the innovation and massive scaling-up of financial services and products centred on the financial inclusion of low-income women, vulnerable households, smallholder farmers and MSMEs in the Global South. Financial inclusion enables reaching the SDGs. 

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