"Investing in their future, is investing in our future" - an information campaign on Belgian Development Cooperation

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An information campaign was launched this week to highlight the added value of Belgian development cooperation and international cooperation with people in our partner countries, also for our own people. The campaign focuses particularly on younger adiences.

Central to the campaign are stories and testimonies from local actors in African countries. They explain how international cooperation - with the support of Belgian Development Cooperation - helps them realise their ambitions. The information campaign is an initiative of the federal government, the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, and will mainly be featured online and on social media.

Belgium is contributing to a world where everyone has equal opportunities, regardless of where they were born, within the guidelines set out by the United Nations on global sustainable development. This translates into existing cooperation projects on poverty reduction, access to healthcare and education and human rights. Moreover, gender equality and climate are particular overarching concerns throughout all projects.

Yet it is not always immediately obvious to the general public what this international cooperation entails, what the results are, and why cooperation is an added value for all involved, also in Belgium. The current campaign wants to give answers to these questions and also dispel some of the stereotypes and prejudices regarding international cooperation.

The campaign centres on two testimonies. The first comes from a woman entrepreneur from Burundi who created an enterprise to weeds the invasive and harmful water hyacinth and turn it into sustainable art and textile products. Her activity has created jobs for 150 other women in the process. The second testimony comes from a researcher at the Reference Laboratory for Mycobacteria in Cotonou, Benin, carrying out research in the global fight against antibiotic resistance. His team has developed a test that can target infections and resistance on a large scale.

"If we want to increase support for international solidarity, we need to do more to explain its importance. And what results we achieve in our partner countries. What happens in the rest of the world also impacts our lives here in Belgium," says Caroline Gennez, Minister of Development Cooperation and of Major Cities. "When progress is made in Benin in scientific research on antibiotic resistance, that benefits us just as much. Of course, our international solidarity is much more than an informed self-interest. Inequality is the major challenge of our time. We need to tackle that. An unequal world is an unsafe world," Minister Gennez concludes.

The campaign also redirects to the revamped website openaid.be, which provides a comprehensive overview of all projects, programmes, international contributions and humanitarian aid that Belgium has funded in the context of international cooperation since 2014.

Because Belgian development cooperation focuses on the least developed countries, this cooperation often takes place in a very challenging context. Openaid.be therefore not only focuses on inspiring success stories, but also highlights challenges and obstacles on the road to results.

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