SWEDO was founded 1991 in Stockholm, under the name QANDIL – The Swedish humanitarian aid organization as a Swedish not-for-profit, non-governmental humanitarian aid organization. The name change to SWEDO – The Swedish Development Aid Organization took place in January 2019.
The aims of the organization are to provide humanitarian assistance, promote peace through developmental and rehabilitation projects, support economic and social development, improve human rights, assist in the improvement of local governance structures and improve the lives of vulnerable people, including local communities, internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees, and returnees of all ages and groups. Through this holistic programme, SWEDO aims to provide long-term and sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by communities, but also to enhance the capacity of all stakeholders, promoting local resilience as the key strategy for reducing the reliance on the international community. Currently, SWEDO is focused on these activities within Iraq and in Syria and has offices in Stockholm, Erbil, Sulaymaniah, Dohuk Baghdad, and offices in the region of Al- Hasakah and Ar- Raqqa.
SWEDO has traditionally been funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). However, Since 2016 SWEDO has been the biggest implementing partner of UNHCR in KR-I. In Erbil the partnership has meant that the organization now manages the Protection Assistance and Reintegration Centre (PARC) in Erbil, as well as providing Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) across all three governorates. Although these activities, in partnership with UNHCR, have become the cornerstone of SWEDO’s operation in the KR-I, they are by no means the only activities that the organization has been engaged in. Indeed, SWEDO has a long history of high quality service provision across Iraq, with past projects focusing on rehabilitating and constructing: health; water sanitation and hygiene; shelter and educational, facilities. Furthermore, recently SWEDO is also implementing educational skills projects, capacity building for local NGOs and establishing logistical hubs for partners. In addition to UNHCR these other activities have either been supported or done in partnership with: The German Ministry for Economic and Social Development, GIZ, UNICEF, WFP and UNFPA.
With its head office in Stockholm, where the 7-member Board of Directors resides and meets, SWEDO employs more than 730 full-time staff. SWEDO’s operations in Iraq are led by a team of professional staff in the Country Management Office (CMO) based Erbil.
SWEDO’s reputation as an international non-governmental organization lies in the high quality and quantity of projects it has implemented in various parts of Iraq, especially the Kurdistan Region. Since the beginning of its humanitarian efforts in 1991, SWEDO has always remained loyal to its promise and never left the region. It has been there in times of armed conflict, unrest, civil war, and during peace to rebuild the devastated rural and urban areas.
To meet the demanding urgencies and to respond to the deadly humanitarian crises that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has been witnessing since the beginning of 2014, SWEDO has exerted and maximized all immediate and urgent efforts to maintain its uninterrupted humanitarian commitment and the principles by which it has always abided. SWEDO has worked, and is working, on projects in the following areas:
- Protection (registration, assessment, protection monitoring).
- Distribution (Core Relief Items, multipurpose Cash assistance, cash for winterization).
- Outreach (community based protection, mass-information dissemination, community empowerment).
- Shelter (shelter upgrade, shelter maintenance, shelter construction)..
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Quick impact projects: digging water wells, supplying medical equipment).
- Education (academic staff capacity building, catch up classes, minor school rehabilitation)..
In 1991 SWEDO commenced its work in Iraq, in the Kurdish region (KRG) in the Governorates of Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniya. SWEDO’s work to improve the water and sewerage infrastructure in Iraq, today provides more than two million people in the villages and towns of northern Iraq with water and more than a million people have benefited to date from SWEDO’s work in the health sector whose programs were funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation agency (Sida) and UNCHR.
The first assistance initiatives included building houses for refugees and
operating mobile health teams. The operation was subsequently extended to
include water and sanitation projects as well as small-scale agricultural
In 1995, SWEDO entered into cooperation partnerships with the UN, ECHO, DG1 and OFDA. Increased funding led to expansion, particularly within water and sanitation and construction projects.
The driving force behind SWEDO’s operation is the eradication of poverty
and assisting those in most need in disadvantaged areas. Various development
projects have been added to our activities in recent years, primarily within
the area of water and the environment.
In 2017 SWEDO celebrated its twenty sixth year of work in the KR-I. During this time SWEDO has remained active in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, despite the different and at times, very challenging, context on the ground. By remaining active and committed to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in particular, SWEDO has cultivated a large degree of trust and respectability amongst local populations, authorities and institutions. In turn these links have proved invaluable in ensuring the long-term impact of SWEDO’s projects well beyond the implementation period. Combining this local awareness and knowledge, with international expertise and skills has become a hallmark of SWEDO’s operations in KR-I and Syria.
The organization strives to ensure that the trust placed in it by all stakeholders is upheld and returned in kind and SWEDO believes that this is only achievable through high-quality project design and implementation which incorporates all communities’ thoughts, opinions and needs.