HARARE – Sweden which is the only Nordic country left with an embassy in Harare is about to sign a five-year development cooperation strategy for Zimbabwe, Ambassador Sofia Calltorp
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with The Mirror, Ambassador Calltorp said Sweden has been giving between $20 and $25 million per year in aid to Zimbabwe, and how her country will soon adopt a new five-year development cooperation strategy which is long term and shows Sweden's continued commitment to support the people of Zimbabwe.
Apart from extending the development cooperation strategy to five years, Sweden will also extend its support to a new focus area – pertinent to the development of the Zimbabwe – namely Environment and Climate Change. Until this year Sweden mainly funded Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law initiatives, Health and Child Protection programmes and Youth Employment projects.
Sweden has been spending most of its support on Health and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Child and Social Inclusion which accounted for roughly US$10m, Governance, Human Rights and Rule of Law, including media support, $10m and Humanitarian Support $2-3m, channelled from Stockholm.
"Sweden supported Zimbabwe's independence struggle and has remained active in building the country after it attained independence in 1980. Previously we had shorter funding plans, but it's better to have long term plans and a five-year strategy is about to be endorsed.
"Sweden has long friendship with Zimbabwe and the five-year strategy shows our long commitment to supporting the people of Zimbabwe," said Ambassador Calltorp.
The support to Zimbabwe is done through a wide range of partners in the different areas - for example the support given to Health and Child Welfare is done in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA.
The support to the media is done through the Swedish Media Institute FOJO and some of the benefitting organisations include Gender Media Connect (GMC), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), ZACRAS and Magamba Network.
Ambassador Calltorp said high priority will be placed on Environment and Climate Change in the coming strategy. As a first step, 20 selected organisations and institutions have been invited to draft project proposals on climate change and environment. The projects have to deal with how people can adapt to climate change, the effects of droughts and floods, solar energy and use of less water.
Through the gender projects, Sweden will support the empowerment of women who are the hardest hit by economic difficulties.
"The projects will pursue gender equality so that men and women can have equal opportunities and influence in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. One of the projects seeks to support women – so that they come as close as possible to decision-making positions - including in local councils where we run democracy programmes. Gender Equality has remained a crucial part of Sweden's engagement in Zimbabwe, and will continue to do so in the future", said Ambassador Calltorp
Nordic countries that have since closed their embassies in Harare are Finland, Denmark and Norway.