Picture: The core business of VSF-Suisse are veterinary services. Ethiopia, 2022.
We are pleased to celebrate the 35th anniversary of VSF-Suisse this year. The organization has evolved steadily over the past 35 years and today is an established force within the international cooperation. This year offers us the opportunity to look back and reflect on what we have achieved. At the same time, given the current crises and challenges in our countries of operation, we cannot rest and must continue to strengthen our commitment to support the most vulnerable populations and their animals.
In 1988, VSF-Suisse was founded by students of veterinary medicine at the University of Bern. With a great vision and thousands of volunteer hours, a few years the first two projects in Sudan and Gambia were implemented. In 1995, the head office was opened in Bern. In the following years, the organization grew and professionalized steadily.
Today, VSF-Suisse employs 155 people, spread over five country offices in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, South Sudan and Togo, as well as the head office in Bern. Our teams in Africa are led by local managers and consist of veterinarians, experts in other fields, and administrative staff.
As a sought-after partner by international organizations and government donors for the implementation of development and emergency aid projects, VSF-Suisse now manages around 40-50 projects annually in eight countries in West and East Africa with a total volume of 7-9 million Swiss francs on average.
Veterinary medicine – and much more
The core business of our work remains the development of basic veterinary services through the training and equipping of community animal health workers, the implementation of vaccination campaigns and the distribution of animal feed and healthy animals to particularly vulnerable groups.
We also advise livestock owners on breeding, hygiene and disease prevention, thereby reducing the impact of diseases transmitted from animals to humans. In addition, environmental protection measures and the sustainable use of natural resources play an important role in all our projects and contribute to conflict reduction.
Last but not least, we also support people in marketing their products and opening up new value chains. Through the sale of animal products, families can earn an income with which they can ensure their basic needs and gain access to school and health services. VSF-Suisse thus supports people on their way to independence and creates sustainable perspectives.
A year full of challenges
We have a joyful year ahead of us in which we can celebrate the important milestone of 35 years of impact. But it is also clear that there is no time to rest. For even in 2023, many challenges await the people VSF-Suisse serves.
For example, it is feared that the impact of the drought in the Horn of Africa, which has been going on for two years, on the food security of the people and their animals will only reach its catastrophic peak this year. The food situation in West Africa is tense as well. The region is also experiencing increasing political instability and climate change is a rapidly growing threat to people’s lives and livelihoods here too.
We are confident that thanks to the commitment of our passionate staff and the valuable support of private individuals and institutional partners, we can continue to make an important contribution to alleviating suffering and improving lives. And if necessary, to do so for the next 35 years!