How we work

Programme strategy

Karlheinz Böhm

Karlheinz Böhm (†2014) at a project meeting in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s population continues to grow rapidly. The development of agriculture is not keeping pace with this. Many people have to leave their villages out of necessity. They are stranded without prospects in the slums of the cities. The goal of Menschen für Menschen Switzerland is, therefore, to create good living conditions in cities and in rural areas: people should find a decent living in their homeland.

The growing cities also bring economic and social opportunities. This is what our foundation wants to promote. We support individuals, groups, and communities to find the most efficient solutions to their most pressing problems. Sustainability is always decisive. The projects are organised in such a way that they do not create dependency: Menschen für Menschen enables the population to help themselves.

Our foundation works in close partnerships with local non-governmental organizations. These must demonstrate competence in already successfully completed social and development projects. In order to avoid faulty planning, we are in constant contact with the local and regional authorities.

At the beginning of our projects, there is always an analysis of living conditions and needs at the intervention site. On the basis of this analysis, various program components are linked in such a way that the donations can be used as efficiently and sustainably as possible. For example, in rural areas, we combine agricultural training with drinking water supply and in cities, access to sanitation with commercial support for poor communities. We closely follow the projects through standardised monitoring and evaluation in order to quickly correct any challenges and adapt these to our ongoing projects while at the same time include lessons learned for future activities.

Menschen für Menschen Switzerland sees itself as a learning organisation. New insights from science and development cooperation flow into our strategy and projects.


The focal areas of our programmes

 Menschen für Menschen Schweiz works where the need is greatest and where resources can be expected to have the most impact.

  • Ensuring basic needs are met:
    In Ethiopia, many people do not enjoy the simplest of basic needs such as having enough food, access to clean water and sanitary facilities. We make the facilitation and structures possible so that the poorest communities get water, improved nutrition, access to healthcare so that their basic needs are met.
  • Environmental protection and adapting to climate change:
    Overuse of fields and drastic weather changes due to climate change have led to less harvest. We help the rural population to adapt to environmental factors and climate change using effective measures, thus conserving as much arable land as possible or even improving fertility.
  • Agriculture and market creation:
    The farmers learn how to increase the yields from their land. They will provide adequately for their families but also sell any excess on the market and therefore improve their livelihood while contributing in a small way to the creation of a local market economy. There is a particular focus on developing a sustainable value-chain. From the farmers, through suppliers and any producers processing the goods, to the sellers and buyers – there needs to be a fluid process in place that continues to run smoothly even after we have withdrawn from a region.
  • Infrastructure and urban development:
    One challenge for development in Ethiopia is that in isolated regions,  infrastructure is missing. We support the development of centres and small towns in the planning, implementation and maintenance of their projects and institutions, such as e.g. town planning and house construction thereby supporting the engine of growth in these regions.
  • Education and vocational training:
    Education is the foundation upon which people in Ethiopia can improve their own lives. The Ethiopian government has done a lot in this sector over the decades. Nine out of ten students go to primary school for instance. Nevertheless, a lot of work still is required to meet targets, especially regarding quality. We see education as a driving force, which we intend to safeguard and advance by promoting the education of children and young people (particularly girls and women) at all levels, from infrastructural development, teacher training and teaching materials, to supporting apprenticeship systems and practical training courses.
  • Emergency relief:
    Our main focus lies in sustainable development projects. However, we can provide straightforward emergency assistance in the event of catastrophes, such as droughts, floods, earthquakes or epidemics. Within these programme components, we also provide extensive help with identifying, assessing and reducing risks for current and future emergencies.

How a project starts

  • Project selection
  • Needs analysis

    We base the majority of our projects where a lot problems accumulate in several areas of life. We are there where the environment has been largely destroyed or where the negative effects of urbanisation are particularly harsh; where many people are forced to live in degrading conditions to find work; where many people live under the poverty line (particularly women, children and the displaced). We also set up projects in areas where the possibilities for sustainable improvements are greatest.

  • Project planning
  • Phasing out of projects

    Our projects have to include a strategy for the withdrawal of the foundation from a project area. This phasing out process must include a mechanism that enables the local people to achieve a smooth transition to an independent life without our help.

  • Defining project scopes

    In terms of scope, we focus on all our core issues wherever they are most urgently needed or where the cost-benefit ratio is at its highest. We consider that best practices should be demonstrated our projects and project areas for the dissemination of the methods and techniques used and for sustainability.

  • Implementation and monitoring
  • Coordinating projects

    We cooperate with experienced non-governmental organisations, which have already demonstrated their competence. Local institutions, such as the agricultural department and experts in municipalities as well as the health bureau or the water sector offices, are integrated into our projects. We continue to plan and implement with their staff, as these institutions will continue the work together with the communities after our withdrawal.

  • Continuous controls

    We support projects that produce solid baseline information or plan it in as an activity, and which provide a monitoring system so that the results can be checked using good indicators. The experts at Menschen für Menschen Switzerland must be able to supervise and support the projects effectively. Our values must be apparent in all projects and have to be accessible to anyone who is interested. Our results are regularly documented, reviewed, evaluated and improved.

  • Evaluation
  • Measuring effects

    When projects are completed we evaluate them in terms of quality and scope with the help of external experts. We want to establish whether we have achieved our objectives and, above all, evaluate the positive impact on the life of the people. The results of this evaluation are integrated into our project strategy and used for future project planning.

Load More...

Here you can visit our projects: