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Global development cooperation

Through its support for global organisations, Sida contributes to improving the lives of people in low-income countries. There are many global challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic has made life more difficult for more people, armed conflict is on the rise, democracy is in decline and climate change is having a severe impact on the people who are most vulnerable.

Sida's support to global development cooperation in 2021

Total development assistance 6851103000 SEK, Development cooperation 6690314000 SEK, Humanitarian assistance 160789000 SEK.

Progress has been made

90 %

of children worldwide attend primary and lower secondary school. In more than two out of three countries, just as many girls as boys attend school.1

Progress thanks to research

Research and new solutions have given more people access to electricity, clean water, more nutritious crops and better healthcare. Thanks to vaccine research and mass vaccination, Africa was declared polio-free in 2020.2

More jobs and higher wages

International trade has grown enormously over the past 30 years, contributing to global development.3 When low-income countries participate in the world economy, poverty is often reduced. New technologies, internet access and digital services are making it easier for small businesses to reach beyond local markets.

Challenges remain

23 %

(on average) lower salary for women compared to men. A quarter of the world’s parliamentarians are women. Women have significantly worse access to financial resources. Fewer girls than boys finish lower secondary school and continue their education. Many girls and women are victims of gender-based violence4 and are most affected by climate change5.

Low wages and poor working conditions

In many countries, the majority of the population work in informal businesses, often with low output, low wages and poor working conditions.6

Climate change is having an impact

People’s livelihoods and biodiversity are threatened by drought, floods and changing weather patterns. Industrial agriculture is often highly productive but results in greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants that threaten biodiversity.7

Global development cooperation


International cooperation is needed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of Sida’s work has been adapted to best meet people’s increased and changing needs.

Multilateral organisations such as the UN and the World Bank have a particularly important role to play in combating the pandemic and its negative effects.

Strengthening health systems

Half of the world’s population do not have access to basic healthcare, which is devastating during the pandemic. UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, is increasing access to essential medicines, maternal and neonatal healthcare, safe drinking water and toilets, and strengthening people’s social safety nets.

UNICEF website

Preventing gender-based violence

Gender-based violence has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.9 The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides access to information and services relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), among other things. The aim is to prevent gender-based violence, provide support to people who have been victims and increase access to contraception.

WHO’s website

Compensating for lost income

As a consequence of closed borders and insecure working conditions, unemployment has increased worldwide.10 Through the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility programme, Sida supports people at risk of losing income and experiencing food shortages as a result of broken supply chains and closed markets.

Socially sustainable development

Good health, clean water, sanitation and a good education are essential for people to be able to improve their lives. Nearly half of the people living in low-income countries have nowhere to wash their hands. Half of all health clinics lack water and 60% do not have access to toilets. 25 million unsafe abortions are performed every year.

Sida works in the fields of education, health, water and sanitation to promote socially sustainable development.

More children in school

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, some 270 million children were out of school, a figure that has risen since countries closed schools. Sida is part of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which finances education plans in low-income countries. The aim is to improve curricula, increase the number of children in school and ensure that more children receive better education. Girls and the most vulnerable children are a particular priority.

Global Partnership for Education

Clean water and toilets for more people

844 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.3 billion lack access to a working toilet. WaterAid influences governments to increase funding to schools and healthcare facilities, for example, to ensure there are clean water and toilets for students and patients. WaterAid also works at country level to increase access to clean water and sanitation.

WaterAid’s website

Training midwives

Ipas trains midwives in maternal and child health and in abortion care. In addition, they work to have legislation introduced to give women and girls control over their own bodies.

Ipas’ website


Poverty is also about lacking influence over political decisions and power over your own life. This is why human rights and democracy are the area on which Sida focuses the most.

Every year since 2006, more countries have gone backwards in their democratic development, compared to the number of countries that have become more democratic.11 Often, citizens have little opportunity to influence political decisions. Women, young people and minority groups are under-represented in politics.

More political influence for women

Only a quarter of the world’s parliamentarians are women.12 Sida supports UN Women, Kvinna till kvinna and other women’s rights organisations in their efforts to strengthen women’s political influence and leadership. For example, they put pressure on governments to work for gender equality and train female politicians.

UN Women’s website

Supporting journalists in conflict zones

Press freedom around the world is shrinking and journalists are being threatened, murdered and imprisoned.13Internews supports journalists working in oppressive environments characterised by conflict, lawlessness or pandemics. Internews ensures that journalists receive tailored training and resources so that they can report without risking their lives, and that the most vulnerable people have access to independent, fact-checked information.

Internews’ website

Everyone should be able to love whom they want

In many countries, LGBTQI+ people are at risk of discrimination, abuse, violence and intimidation. Sida supports organisations including ILGA World, which strengthens the capacity of local LGBTQI+ organisations and advocates for the rights of all to be who they are and love whom they want.

ILGA’s website

Environment, climate and marine & natural resources

Sustainable use of Earth’s resources is a prerequisite for poverty reduction and sustainable development for both present and future generations. People living in poverty often depend on biodiversity and natural resources for their livelihood, and are particularly vulnerable to climate change and pollution.

However, economic development, which has driven poverty reduction, has come partly at the cost of depleting nature, increasing pollution and continuing climate change. At least four out of nine planetary boundaries are estimated to have been transgressed. This undermines the conditions for sustainable development.

Strengthening environmentally sustainable development

Vulnerable countries are struggling to cope with the many environmental and climate challenges. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) links many different environmental and climate issues to contribute effectively to sustainable development. This includes protecting biodiversity, improving the management of freshwater and marine resources, accelerating climate action, promoting a transition to renewable energy sources and contributing to sustainable food systems.

UNDP’s website

Transforming the energy sector

Some 750 million people still live without electricity.14 At the same time, a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions comes from the energy sector. The World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) helps increase access to electricity from renewable sources and clean cooking solutions for people living in poverty, and also supports the improvement of countries’ energy systems to reduce fossil fuel subsidies and become more energy efficient.

ESMAP’s website

Reducing exposure to toxic substances

Chemicals and pollution threaten lives and health. Through the global NGO network IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network), Sida supports efforts to achieve a world in which people in poor and fragile countries are not affected by the production and handling of toxic substances.

IPEN’s website

Gender equality

Greater gender equality is a prerequisite for equitable, sustainable development. Women and girls are over-represented among people living in poverty. In many parts of the world, laws and social norms restrict women’s right to inherit or own land, to be educated and to have a job and income of their own. Gender-based violence is a widespread, serious violation of women’s and girls’ rights, and it is estimated that 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives.15

Protecting vulnerable women

Violence against women and girls and child marriage are consequences of gender inequality and an obstacle to greater gender equality. The UN Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls not Brides both work to protect and support vulnerable women and girls and to promote long-term change.

Girls not Brides on the UN Trust Fund website

Engaging men in gender equality

In many parts of the world, gender equality is going backwards. To challenge patriarchal structures and change negative social norms, it is important for men to be involved in gender equality work. MenEngage is a global network working for precisely this purpose.

MenEngage’s website

Feminist movements contributing to gender equality

Women’s organisations are crucial actors in the promotion of gender equality and the rights of women, girls and LGBTQI+ people and their inclusion in society. The Global Fund for Women finances women’s rights organisations and feminist movements worldwide.

Global Fund for Women’s website

Sustainable peace

Over the past decade, the world has become a less peaceful place, with the number of violent conflicts increasing and becoming more complex. Political unrest, violence and conflict break down social structures at all levels and the majority of the world’s population living in poverty are concentrated in countries in which they are commonplace. Building lasting peace and preventing conflict is crucial to reducing human suffering, preventing economic collapse and reducing poverty.

A concerted global effort is needed to build peace. Sida reinforces the UN and civil societies and highlights the voices of people affected by conflict. Children, young people and women are particularly important.

Increasing the participation of women and young people in peacebuilding

Women and young people are often excluded from peace processes and from peacebuilding and statebuilding, which means that their perspective is often missing when important decisions are made. Sida works with several organisations to empower women and young people in a meaningful way, for example through the feminist peace organisation Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. With chapters in nearly 50 countries and by means of global advocacy, they link women’s local realities to international forums and challenge gender norms, power structures and militarism.

WILPF’s website

Reducing tension in conflict countries

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to further discontent and violence in most conflict-affected countries. Geneva Call works to prevent conflict and help reduce tension, including by educating armed groups about their obligations related to Covid-19, especially in areas in which they exercise control.

Geneva Call’s website

Clearing landmines and explosive remnants

Landmines and other explosive remnants of war kill and injure people and render land unusable during conflicts and for decades after the war is over. Sida’s partners the Danish Refugee Council and the Mines Advisory Group are therefore working in more than 10 countries to clear mines and carry out education and information campaigns to reduce the risk of people being harmed.

Economic development

Sustainable economic development is essential for communities to grow, develop and create jobs, enabling people to lift themselves out of poverty and improve their living conditions. Current economic development, particularly in Africa, is not benefiting all people and is partly at the expense of depleting nature, increasing pollution and continuing climate change.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on countries’ economies, businesses and jobs. SMEs account for more than half of all jobs in the world and are a major part of the economies of low- and middle-income countries.

Better working conditions

Nine out of ten jobs in low- and middle-income countries are in the informal sector.17 This is dominated by women and young people, who work without contracts, agreements or social security. Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) improves the working conditions of people, especially women, working in the informal economy. The organisation’s work makes informal workers more visible in research and statistics, and increases their influence.

WIEGO’s website

Free and fair trade

SMEs make up a large part of the business community in low-income countries, but they often have difficulty reaching an international market. International Trade Center supports small and medium-sized enterprises in low-income countries to become more competitive and resilient to climate change. There is a particular focus on businesses run by women and young people.

International Trade Center’s website

Inclusive business environment

Many countries’ regulations make it difficult for people to run businesses, own land or access electricity. The Facility for Investment Climate Advisory Services (FIAS) works to strengthen the business and investment climate in developing countries through legal and regulatory reform and modernisation that help businesses access market opportunities that contribute to growth, job creation and poverty reduction.

FIAS’ website

Updated: January 19, 2022