Farmers in the Vietnamese Mekong-Delta harvesting lotus flowers.
Photo: Shutterstock
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Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Viet Nam are lagging behind the other six ASEAN nations in numerous respects. The goal of the SDC’s’s Mekong regional strategy is to close this gap.

Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) has a long history in the Mekong region. Swiss development activities with Viet Nam started in 1968, and formal bilateral cooperation began in 1992. As a middle-income country, Viet Nam has no longer been part of the poverty reduction programme since 2016.
In 2006 the DEZA opened an office in Laos which today supports the Mekong regional programme. Since 2013 Switzerland also has a cooperation office in Cambodia. The DEZA’s Mekong regional strategy covers Cambodia and Laos and regional and supranational projects in Myanmar and Viet Nam.
“The challenges in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar are very similar,” says Franziska Freiburghaus, head of SDC’s East Asia department. She went on to explain that the gap between rich and poor is wide in all three countries, and poverty is still widespread – particularly among the rural population and ethnic minorities. All three countries also have a violent past and share management of the Mekong.

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