The global shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a pressing need for adaptation and international cooperation. Yet, in a time of great uncertainty, the overall strategic direction of Swedish aid remained consistent. This is the main conclusion in a study NCG recently finalised on behalf of The Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA). Conducted between August 2021 to March 2022, the study provides detailed insight to how aid has been adjusted as a response to the pandemic, as well as identifying recommendations and lessons for future shocks and crises. 

Furthermore, the study concluded that: 
  • In 2020, financial support of SEK 2.6 billion is directly related to COVID-19, which makes up 6 percent of the total ODA. Evidence suggests that the financial support mostly focuses on the sectors of health and social infrastructure. 
  • Sweden has maintained a holistic view of the support to the health sector during the pandemic and Sweden’s close collaboration with multilateral organisations and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has ensured continued focus on long-term development. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a strengthening of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus in the Swedish support and there has been a tendency to interpret the boundaries more flexibly.
  • Overall, the systems have adapted well to the challenges, although with some critical shortcomings in the preparedness within the areas of communication, coordination, and human resource management.
The study was conducted by NCG partner and Team Leader Carsten Schwensen, NCG Partner Louise Scheibel Smed, and Independent Evaluation Expert Jonas Lövkrona.