— For the first time since the 1990s, poverty is increasing in the world. Africa needed 20 million new jobs before the pandemic. In stead, 20 million jobs have disappeared. Development aid — both in terms of money and knowledge transfer — will therefore be decisive in the time ahead. And here, Norec will play a key role, says Minister of International Development Dag Inge Ulstein.

The corona pandemic has paused many of Norec’s exchange projects. Close to 300 exchange participants across the world has gone home. Today, Minister of International Development Dag Inge Ulstein came to Førde to hear about how Norec and Norec’s partners have adapted their operation after the borders closed.

— In a crisis like this, we need more international cooperation, not less. Even when the physical exchange has been paused, Norec continue their cooperation projects through digital channels to ensure progress. That commands respect, Ulstein says.

How to Work with International Co-operation Without Travelling?
Strict travel restrictions and infection control efforts around the world forced Norec to find new ways to work with international cooperation.

All of Norec’s partners have had the chance to change their plans as a result of the corona outbreak, and Norec has received around 60 applications from projects that wish to adapt to the corona situation.

— At an early stage, Norec was ready with a plan on how to handle the pandemic. They are an example to be followed, says Ulstein.

State of Emergency
In Norway, things are starting to slowly return to normal. However, at a global level there has never been more corona cases recorded than yesterday. Ulstein underlines that the socioeconomic consequences of the lockdown could be more serious than the pandemic itself.

— 256 million people are in danger of acute hunger. That is a doubling from before the pandemic. Job creation and capacity building are key efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. As of today, the prospects look dark. We will not succeed unless we build our development work on the mindset Norec is founded on, with reciprocity as the supporting beam of the work.

Because of the travel restrictions, the Government has suggested a budget cut of 59,5 million NOK in the revised national budget. Norec Director Jan Olav Baarøy is still optimistic about the future and emphasises that international cooperation has never been more important.

— When the world has returned to normal, we will still have the same ambitions about growth for Norec exchanges in 2021 and 2022 as before corona. This is a state of emergency, and we will contribute to the shared efforts. In the time after the corona pandemic there will be an even larger need for international cooperation and exchanges, and then Norec will be ready, says Baarøy.