Women and their participation in the political process is one focus of Helvetas’ programmes in 2020.
Photo: © Helvetas / fairepicture / Fatoumata Tioye Coulibaly

Helvetas supported over 5 million people in the pandemic year 2020

The COVID-19 crisis is pushing millions of people back into poverty, making the commitment to a better future even more urgent. The Swiss development organisation Helvetas saw record donations and supported over five million people in 2020. The focus was on alleviating pandemic-related hardships, which is highlighted in the newly released 2020 Annual Report.

In the pandemic year 2020, Helvetas utilised USD 124.4 million – more than ever before – for development projects and humanitarian aid world-wide. This enabled the development cooperation and humanitarian aid organisation to reach over five million people in 30 countries. Helvetas also provided professional and technical advice to other organisations totalling USD 5.9 million. Furthermore, the NGO spent nearly USD 5.6 million on projects in Switzerland in the field of education and information.

According to a press release of the 10th, June 2021 Helvetas achieved a new record with donations of USD 40.8 million in 2020, which is a 16 per cent increase compared to the previous year. 

For the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and other governmental and international clients, Helvetas implemented projects supported with USD 100.9 million, which is four per cent more than in the previous year. Administrative expenses remained low at 3.5 per cent. Fundraising expenses amounted to 6.2 per cent.

Basic needs, education and participation


As Helvetas reports in its press release the NGO contributed to securing basic needs, creating prospects through education projects and strengthening the co-determination of women and minorities in 30 countries.

More than four million people gained better access to clean water and sanitation and learned about the hygiene measures needed to protect against the coronavirus, which is essential for survival. As climate change continues, hundreds of thousands have learned environmentally friendly farming methods despite more difficult conditions.

Together with partner organisations, Helvetas has been able to provide around 800,000 children and young adults with better primary education and access to vocational training, which increases their opportunities in the labour market and creates prospects locally. 

In 2020, Helvetas worked with partners to empower over 400,000 women and men to participate in the political process. Helvetas supports refugees and migrants and works with governments to develop frameworks for social cohesion – all in pursuit of greater justice.

Rapid humanitarian aid delivery


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the lives of the world's population. Helvetas’ response relied on one of its key strengths; with local roots in 30 countries, decentralised organisation and a wealth of experience spanning 65 years, the NGO was able to act immediately. Through 149 projects worth almost USD 6.7 million, Helvetas provided emergency humanitarian aid and supported local actors in alleviating the economic impacts of the pandemic, and 2.5 million people received protective materials, soap, water and educational information on how to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

Donations from private individuals, foundations, cantons, municipalities and companies, as well as contributions from Swiss Solidarity, UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM and SDC, made the rapid delivery of humanitarian aid possible.

New strategy 2021-2024


Helvetas has long subscribed to the principle that it should only do things that local and national stakeholders cannot achieve on their own, whether that is because their hands are tied, they cannot make themselves heard, or they lack the requisite technical expertise. The Swiss NGO works closely with the affected population as well as with local partner organisations. 

Helvetas is applying its knowledge in its new 2021-24 strategy. The Organisation is intensifying its work in the areas of water, food and climate. Once basic needs are met, Helvetas wants to create future opportunities for young people, especially women, and prioritise projects offering high-quality, practice-oriented vocational training so that youth will have decent job prospects.

Helvetas is creating the right conditions for disadvantaged people to have a say in their future. For example, it empowers women to participate in political processes.

Given growing urbanisation, Helvetas will also be increasingly active in urban environments. With its new 2021-24 strategy, Helvetas is responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the serious consequences of climate change and the increasing threat to basic needs, as well as the increased risk of violent conflicts in its partner countries.

(Helvetas/wi)

More information:
Annual Report
About Helvetas
2021-2024 Strategy

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