INTEGRATION: youth welfare and sustainable development in Switzerland


  • P. Frey
  • S. Frutig
  • U. Kaltenrieder
  • J. Wetzel


In Switzerland with its 7.3 million inhabitants, about 200,000 people are working in the agricultural sector managing 66,000 farms. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of agricultural employees shrunk by 50,000 and more than 22,000 agrarian businesses were abandoned – mostly smallscale farms with less than 3 ha. The Emmental region is a part of Switzerland characterized by a high share of agriculture. Compared to other regions the proportion of rural inhabitants is still relatively high, the decline of farms is therefore below the figures of the rest of Switzerland. Nevertheless, as an effect of the structural change also in rural regions, the remaining farmers depend more and more on additional incomes and are looking for extra work in different branches. Although the Emmental region is one of the economically poor marginal regions of Switzerland, it has a multitude of strengths: besides the intact landscape and numerous natural resources the inhabitants have a strong liaison to their culture and traditions. The family structures are essentially still in good order and the social network is functioning. Based on these strengths, the project INTEGRATION aims at three main targets: * Providing space for living and developing on a qualified farm with system-therapeutic and socialpedagogic support for socially deprived children and adolescents from urban centres such as Berne, Basel and Lucerne. * Offering places of care creates innovative and sustainable supplementary earnings for the farming families in an economically unfavourable mountain area. * At the political level, a new quality of the relation between ‘city’ and ‘country’ evolves by bringing together different cultures and exchanging ideas and experiences. INTEGRATION is a social youth-welfare project with a strong liaison with the economic sector. The well-being of the involved children, adolescents and partner families comes first but with its connections to economic and ecological aspects INTEGRATION has also become a typical project in the field of sustainable rural development. This may have led to the invitation of the representatives of the project to participate in the preparatory workshop in Vorden (The Netherlands), April 2004. They had the opportunity to present and discuss the philosophy of the project INTEGRATION and its results during the last eight years. As an innovative project in the field of social youth welfare in Switzerland, INTEGRATION was also asked for a contribution to the publication ‘Farming for Health’. Although there are quite a lot of activities in this field, the term ‘Farming for Health’ is neither widely known nor used in Switzerland yet. After the preparatory workshop, the project team discussed an appropriate translation into (Swiss) German: the best working title was found in ‘Landwirtschaft und soziale Wohlfahrt’. It will be a challenge for the future to determine a term that meets most of the requirements of the then involved organizations. The first part of this contribution gives a short overall description of activities in Switzerland, while the project INTEGRATION with its targets, activities and results is described in the second part