COVID-19 - Prevention and Recovery in the Mekong Region

Project completed

Vulnerable groups in Laos and Cambodia suffered disproportionally from the Covid-19 socio-economic crisis affecting their income, as well as access to public services and employment. Swiss support will combine institutional strengthening of local actors and provision of public services, skills development, access to credit and support to returning migrants. The long-term experience of Switzerland and trusted relationships with governments add value to the intervention

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Agricultural services & market
Business support & economic inclusion
SME development
Sexual & gender-based violence
Democratic participation and civil society
Basic nutrition
Vocational training
Household food security
Rural development
Labour migration
Employment creation
Informal banking & insurance
Social protection
Health systems strengthening
01.08.2020 - 30.09.2022
CHF  6’750’000
Background The coronavirus has rapidly spread across the world and WHO declared it a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. While the Mekong region so far has not seen a major spread of COVID-19, with the number of cases officially maintained under 19 in Laos and 122 in Cambodia, the socio-economic consequences of the preventive measures are already severely affecting both countries, a situation that will still influence the development in the coming months and years. Additionally, there is the risk of a wider spread of the disease after the borders are open again, with migrants and eventually tourists travelling within the region. Successes and development gains of the past years in lifting people out of poverty may be quickly lost if support measures are not introduced. The Mekong context, with weak health systems, high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition, low access to water and sanitation services and an important informal economy without social protection is particularly vulnerable to the health and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. Switzerland, with its good knowledge of field realities in Laos and experience in reaching out to disadvantaged groups in rural areas, can influence the design of programmes to ensure that no one is left behind. This applies specifically in the fields of skills development. Migration and food security.
Objectives Contribute to reduce the negative socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on vulnerable populations in Laos and Cambodia, by enabling public authorities , private sector and civil society actors to provide accessible services to men and women and increase their resilience
Target groups

Affected women and men across Laos and Cambodia  with a focus on vulnerable groups, considering but not limited to those provinces with existing concentration of Swiss supported programmes.

National and local authorities for the capacity building components, as well as Lao Non for Profit Associations.

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1:    Women and men, with a focus on vulnerable groups, including returnees have equitable access to prevention and recovery support to maintain their livelihoods and dignity.

Outcome 2:    Public actors at the central and local levels as well as Civil society Organisations are strengthened in their capacity to manage COVID-19 and provide effective, coordinated, needs-based and inclusive short to medium term responses to affected people. 


Expected results:  

1.1    People, including returnee migrants and unemployed women and men from the informal sector, have access to livelihood opportunities, through short skills trainings in the agriculture sector or other relevant sectors of the local economy to keep their livelihoods;

1.2    The economically most vulnerable in rural areas (landless, day labour and agricultural workers) receive rapid support; 

1.3    Stranded migrants in destination countries as well as migrant workers repatriated in Laos and Cambodia get adapted support; 

1.4    Women and men-owned micro- small and medium-scale enterprises are business resilient and are able to offer employment opportunities through access to financial services and business development services;

2.1.    Government agencies are better equipped to provide social protection services to vulnerable people in rural and urban areas;

2.2. Service providers have the capacities to extend related services in a COVID-19 conform approach.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Other International Organization
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Food and Agricultural Organisation
  • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
  • International Labor Organization
  • Other OI
  • Swiss Red Cross
  • United Nations Population Fund
  • Industrial Development Organization
  • World Food Programme

Other partners
UN agencies, Helvetas & GIZ
Coordination with other projects and actors Relevant government partners, UN agencies, MDB, international NGOs and local NPAs, and/or other development partners, providing relief and recovery to the Mekong region. Synergies with Swiss projects especially in the A&FS as well as Skills Development sector
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    6’750’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    6’288’990
Project phases

Phase 1 01.08.2020 - 30.09.2022   (Completed)