After promoting sustainable livestock farming and education for two decades, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will discontinue its programme in Mongolia at the end of 2024. The SDC opened its cooperation office in Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar in 2004, three years after it had launched its assistance programme in the landlocked Asian country. Switzerland’s assistance aimed to promote sustainable livestock farming and food security.
Nomadic livestock farming is of great cultural, societal and economic significance in Mongolia. Around 110 million hectares or 70% of the country, which is almost 38 times larger than Switzerland, is covered in grassland – and intact grassland is the most important livelihood for the nomads. It is called “Green Gold” in Mongolia.
The heavy use of pastures and the effects of climate change are extremely challenging for Mongolia. The number of livestock, particularly goats, has increased considerably over the last few decades, which is partially due to the rising demand for cashmere wool. However, the heavy use and frequent overuse of the land reduces the biodiversity and leads to the desertification of the land.
“Switzerland has played a significant role in rehabilitating more than 20 million hectares of fallow grazing land within 15 years. This is almost five times the size of Switzerland,” says Stefanie Burri, head of the SDC cooperation office and Swiss consul in Mongolia.
Switzerland also provided support for vocational training and the establishment of start-up companies. For years, it has worked with the Zorig Foundation (ZF), a Mongolian non-governmental organisation (NGO) which offers scholarships for disadvantaged students. The SDC funded almost half of the 2,900 scholarships, 60% of which were given to women.
The strategy for international cooperation 2021-2024 aims to concentrate more on fragile contexts. For this reason, the SDC decided to end its bilateral development cooperation with 11 of the 46 countries as of the end of 2024. Mongolia is one of these countries. The number of SDC employees in Mongolia has dropped from 28 in 2020 to currently 12.
(source: swiss info)