As part of its current Cooperation Strategy (2017–21), Switzerland (SDC) is supporting the Cuban government with the modernisation of its socio-economic model. It has been focusing its efforts on local development since 2011.

© 2014 Natural Earth

In comparison with other Caribbean and Central American countries, Cuba performs well in terms of basic social services (healthcare, education and social security). However, the country is faced with economic problems stemming from its dual currency system and dependence on other countries for basic food products. The government has been pursuing a policy of devolution of public services, the privatisation of certain economic activities and municipalisation since 2011.

SDC supports projects in 95 of 168 Cuban municipalities in the fields of participation (support with decentralisation, development of municipal institutions’ capabilities, planning and participative management), agriculture and economic development (support for private cooperatives, enhancement of value chains, certified organic production and renewable energies) and the promotion of gender equality (social inclusion, combating discrimination due to gender, age and sexual orientation).

Municipal management

Civic engagement and decentralisation

80 municipalities have produced a municipal development strategy with support from SDC since the reform of decentralisation was launched in two pilot provinces – Mayabeque and Artemisa – in 2011–2012. This primarily involves helping local authorities to define consultation processes with local sectoral institutions and the population and then identifying small-scale local development projects funded either by local taxes (1% of municipal revenues can be used locally) or with the support of SDC.

In some municipalities up to five projects supported by Switzerland are working in tandem with the municipal authorities to improve the living conditions of the population in specific key areas, such as housing, agricultural production and renewable energies. Restrictions on financial resources and the powers of municipal authorities continue to represent major challenges which need to be clarified at governmental level.

Agriculture and economic development at municipal level

There was a 10.7% annual increase in agricultural production on average between 2010 and 2016 in the 40 or so municipalities where the SDC is operating. 3.9 million people, which represents 31% of the total population, have benefited from these activities (creation of employment, increase in income). Establishing networks between the various actors (small-scale producers, cooperatives, state enterprises) and economic mechanisms (certification, transportation, marketing) represent major challenges.

Agriculture and food security

Social inclusion and gender equality

SDC supports two platforms made up of official institutions, local NGOs and community projects working on the issues of social inclusion, the combat against all types of discrimination and the promotion of gender equality. The 15 partner institutions supported by Switzerland carry out national campaigns on these key issues, reaching both citizens (awareness-raising) and national authorities (adjustment of the legal framework).  

History of cooperation

Humanitarian support first and foremost since 1997

SDC has been present in Cuba since 1997, primarily focusing on humanitarian projects, particularly in the medical field. In 2000, SDC set up a cooperation office in Havana and developed a special cooperation programme. After an exploratory phase (2000–03), the Swiss programme focused on two priorities – local development and sustainable economic development. These priorities were maintained until 2011 when the transversal issue of gender was added. As part of the current Cooperation Strategy (2017–21), the programme is focusing on a single area of activity – local development.

Current projects

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2023 Annual Allocation to WFP Country Strategic Plans - Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2023

Against historic levels of food security due to conflicts, climate change and COVID-19, Switzerland supports annually in 28 SDC priority countries operations of the World Food Programme to provide humanitarian and development assistance. It funds indistinctively Country Strategic Plans, incorporating all WFP programmes or projects, based on affected population needs and potential synergies with other local partners, especially national governments and civil society.

WFP, Hurrican Ian Response, Cuba

01.12.2022 - 31.05.2024

Hurricane Ian has caused significant losses in the agricultural and fishing sector limiting the availability and access to food and affecting the livelihoods of the population in the provinces Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Mayabeque and Isla de la Juventud. With its contribution to the World Food Programme through the United Nations Plan of Action, SDC helps providing food assistance and restore food production and livelihoods to meet the needs of 798’000 severely affected people in those provinces.

PROFET – Programme for Strengthening Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) in Cuba

31.10.2022 - 31.05.2024

PROFET contributes to improve the integration of young people, especially women and disadvantaged groups, into the labour market by assessing demand in the productive sector, improving training quality in priority specialties for the economy of the country, promoting cooperation between educational institutions and the productive public and private sectors, and providing local counselling services for young people looking for jobs.

Contribución al Programa mediCuba-Suiza

05.10.2022 - 30.06.2024

La Fase III del Programa mCS en Cuba contribuye al fortalecimiento de los servicios públicos de salud, afrontando las secuelas de la Covid-19 en sectores de la población más vulnerables a sus efectos a medio y largo plazo. Lo hace fortaleciendo las capacidades del Ministerio de Salud publico (MINSAP) con materiales, capacitación y equipamiento indispensable; así como aumentando las capacidades de la industria nacional para la producción local de medicamentos, disminuyendo así gastos de importaciones.

PYE - Participation and Equity Platform

01.12.2021 - 30.06.2024

PYE, phase 3, aims to consolidate in a platform the efforts of 15 Cuban civil society actors, including the 6 partners part of the Gender Equity Program (PEGIN), for the promotion of laws and public policies to improve human rights in Cuba, in the areas of gender, race, poverty and social inclusion to promote legislative, social and public policy changes, with the promotion of activism and leadership of local actors.

Inclusive Urbanisation

08.11.2021 - 30.06.2024

The program contributes to inclusive urbanization in Central America in partnership with UN-Habitat with the aim to improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations in urban settlements. Solid data and evidence on informal settlements and specialised advisory will contribute to improve urban policies. Capacity building, participatory planning approaches and increased involvement of the private sector will foster comprehensive and feasible solutions for informal settlements. 

PAAS - Project to Support Sustainable Agriculture in Cuba

15.07.2021 - 31.12.2023

The phase 3 of PAAS proposes the consolidation of a methodology for the application and scaling up of the value chain management model. It includes elements of circular economy, climate-smart agriculture and agro-ecological certification in 11 municipalities and 5 chains (cassava, broiler chicken meat, small livestock, fruit trees and vegetables). The project expects to have an impact on agricultural public policies by incorporating the model into the guidelines of the prioritized national agricultural programs.

PRODEL - Program for strengthening municipal capacities for local development

01.04.2021 - 30.06.2024

PRODEL III contributes to the decentralization reform through introducing its municipal autonomy approach into new laws and policies, through training of “multipliers” and creation of advisory services to extend its tool of Municipal Development Strategy to more municipalities. The EDM strengthens municipal autonomy and efficient use of local resources for production infrastructure and services, while promoting participation and inclusion.

Support for cooperative management in the agricultural sector in Cuba (APOCOOP)

01.08.2019 - 31.03.2024

APOCOOP contributes to food security in 17 municipalities by improving the management of agricultural cooperatives, strengthening tools and enhancing the capacities and conditions of cooperative members and other actors. It promotes models of inter-cooperation between agricultural cooperatives, with gender equity, resilience and economic, social and environmental sustainability, and to socialize results and methods in spaces of influence on land policies in Cuba.

PADIT - Programa Plataforma Articulada para el Desarrollo Integral de los Territorios

06.12.2017 - 31.12.2023

PADIT apoya el fortalecimiento del desarrollo local en Cuba, genera herramientas de gestión descentralizada basadas en la articulación y cooperación entre niveles de decisión (nacional, provincial, municipal e intermunicipal) y entre el sector público y el privado y cooperativo para crear servicios y actividades productivas y mejorar opciones de empleo e ingresos, con énfasis en mujeres y jóvenes. A la vez, PADIT moviliza la participación ciudadana en las decisiones locales.

Programa de apoyo a la Equidad y Participación local - PYE

01.06.2017 - 31.12.2021

En el contexto de la descentralización del desarrollo en curso en Cuba, la Cooperación Suiza apoya a los gobiernos locales, las comunidades y actores de la sociedad civil en la disminución de brechas de equidad. Mediante nueve organizaciones (cuatro ONG nacionales, tres proyectos comunitarios, una agencia de prensa y un centro académico) con experticia en género, medio ambiente, cultura, racialidad y vulnerabilidad, este proyecto promueve el desarrollo equitativo y la inclusión social.

PROFET - Programme for Strengthening Technical and Vocational Education in Cuba

01.06.2017 - 30.06.2023

PROFET promotes access to employment by young people, with emphasis on women and disadvantaged groups, by modernizing educational programmes and technology under Technical and Vocational Education, in priority specialties for the development of the country (construction, agriculture and tourism), strengthening cooperation among educational institutions and the productive sector, and providing local advisory services for job placement and business undertaking.

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