Sida’s decision: One billion SEK 2022-2026

Izla Bethdavid Boltena

In December, Sida approved our application for funding for long-term development cooperation. Sida makes the assessment that SMC’s network is a good partner in Swedish development assistance, but that the pace of change in certain processes must increase.

Between the years 2022-2026, Sida will distribute funds totalling 1,010,000,000 SEK to SMC. -SMC will in turn distribute the majority of these funds through its member organisations to cooperating partners in approximately 50 countries around the world.

– We appreciate that Sida has made a thorough assessment of our application, says Hanna Mellergård, head of international development cooperation at SMC. We are pleased that Sida shows great confidence in us and our network’s ability to fight poverty and work for a better world.

A diverse network and a good partner with Sida

There are several positive factors that Sida has highlighted in its assessment of the application:

  • SMC strengthens many different actors in civil society and ground its work in a rights-based approach that reaches people living in poverty.
  • Through SMC’s network projects and interventions can often be implemented in some of the world’s least developed countries.
  • These interventions reach target groups within movements that often include people living in vulnerability and poverty.
  • SMC has the capacity to facilitate discussions regarding equity, HTBQI, gender equality, SRHR etc. in movements and organisations where these rights do not always have an obvious position.
  • The SMC network is a strategic partner based on the broad and long-term relationsbetweenmember organisations and cooperating partners as well as the legitimacy that the religious leaders and religious actors often have.

Overall, Sida’s conclusion is that SMC is a strategic and good partner for implementing the strategy that governs Sida’s work (the so called CSO-strategy).

Issues for dialogue to ensure aid effectiveness

Even though Sida confirms that SMC’s work is relevant, they are concerned that the pace of change is too slow. Therefore, they have listed a number of issues for dialogue to follow up during the agreement period:

  • Aid and development effectiveness, in particular the principle of local ownership. In the coming period, Sida intends to follow how SMC strengthens local ownership by, for example, increasing the proportion of core support to cooperating partners.
  • Dialogue on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR): Sida is interested in the challenges that exist, how they are handled and how progress is assessed.
  • SMC’s focus on environment and climatehas the potential to give good results within the thematic area. Sida looks forward to following SMC’s work and wants to follow up on the increased ambition and its results in implementation.
  • Results-based advocacy work: Sida intends to, through dialogue, follow up and discuss SMC’s network’s work with advocacy towards duty bearerson societal level, such as authorities and legislators.
  • Integration of perspectives: SMC will develop an action plan to show how the different perspectives on gender equality, poverty, human rights, the environment and climate as well as conflictare integrated into the activities.
  • Increased focus on cooperating partners: SMC needs to increase cooperating partners’ visibility and influence, for example by increasing core support instead of funding projects.

40 million less than what SMC applied for

Sida’s decision to grant SMC 1,010,000,000 SEK is approximately 40 million SEK lower than SMC’s application to Sida in September. According to Sida, this is primarily due to the fact that their grant item from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not increased sufficiently and that SMC already has one of the largest development assistance grants within the portfolio of the CSO-strategy.

– We have prepared our member organisations for this and have an ongoing dialogue with them about what Sida’s decision means for them and their partners, says Hanna Mellergård.