The Hindu Kush region extends across Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are connected by the Hindu Kush mountain range. The SDC concluded its activities in Pakistan at the end of 2019 . Its assistance mainly covers water use and the strengthening of state structures and human rights. In Afghanistan, Switzerland works to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights, agricultural development, sustainable resource management and basic education.

Map of the region Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

Switzerland's activities in Afghanistan

The political situation in Pakistan has improved and stabilised markedly in recent years, however it is still volatile and the security situation requires particular attention. Weak rule of law, impunity, socio-economic inequalities, flows of refugees and internally displaced persons, frequent natural disasters as well as ethnic and religious tensions heighten instability, placing significant burdens on the local population.

Switzerland promotes the rule of law and good governance, respect for human rights and the improvement of living conditions for disadvantaged communities, particularly in rural areas.

The SDC works with a number of partners, including national, regional and local authorities, international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), other donor countries, and national and international NGOs.

End of 2019: SDC bilateral activities in Pakistan to close

The SDC has been active in Pakistan since 1966. In 2008, the Federal Council decided that Pakistan was no longer a priority country for bilateral development cooperation.

However, a reduced presence was maintained in the border region with Afghanistan to help counter the fragility in that area.  The SDC therefore focused on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which were merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May 2018.

In 2016, the SDC decided to initiate a full cessation of operations in Pakistan by 2022.  Parliament decided in 2017 to reduce the international cooperation budget by CHF 150 million within the context of the 2017–19 stabilisation programme.  Because of this, activities implemented by the SDC's South Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid departments in Pakistan are to be brought to a close earlier than expected. All operations will cease at the end of 2019, followed by administrative and financial closure in mid-2020.

However, Swiss Humanitarian Aid may still take action in the event of a humanitarian crisis in Pakistan.

Responsible and efficient use of water resources

Water resources are coming under increasing pressure, jeopardising the already fragile social cohesion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  Switzerland assists Pakistan in its efforts to improve water management at a regional and local level.  The aim of these initiatives is to prevent conflicts over access to water (quality and quantity), enable more efficient use of water resources and mitigate the adverse effects of extreme hydrological events.

The SDC has the following specific objectives:

  • Improving access to drinking water
  • Establishing, developing and maintaining irrigation systems in agriculture
  • Sharing technical know-how on preventing and managing water-related disasters
  • Setting up water user associations


Establishing structures at local level and promoting human rights

Switzerland is committed to building trust between citizens and the regional authorities.  In addition to basic services for everyone, Switzerland promotes democratic, transparent and accountable local governance, enhanced protection of human rights and political reforms.

The SDC has the following specific objectives:

  • Strengthening the rule of law
  • Reinforcing capacities in the fields of justice, police and mutual legal assistance systems
  • Introducing new dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Protecting internally displaced persons and Afghan refugees

Advocacy and good governance

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 16

Disability: Community Based Development Muzaffargarh, Pakistan

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2020

Die CBM fokussiert auf die ärmsten und schwächsten Bevölkerungsgruppen – getreu dem Grundsatz «Niemanden zurücklassen» (Leave no one behind) im Hinblick auf die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030. Deshalb spielt die CBM seit über dreissig Jahren eine wichtige Rolle bei der Inklusion von Menschen mit Behinderungen, namentlich von sehbehinderten und blinden Menschen. Die DEZA wird über die Abteilung Institutionelle Partnerschaften, die für das Thema «Disability» zuständig ist, einen Pilotbeitrag zur Verbesserung der Lebensbedingungen von Menschen mit Behinderungen leisten.

Pakistan NDRMF Consultant Disaster Risk Financing

01.09.2018 - 31.12.2019

While Pakistan faces significant disaster risk and an increasing rate of occurrence of hazardous eventsi there is very limited understanding of instruments for Disaster Risk Financing (DRF), like insurance soveretgn risk transfer and preparedness for budget reallocations The DRF Consultant will assist the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) in disaster risk modelltng work including the formulation of a national DRF strategy for Pakistan and DRF instruments which can support Government's efforts to better manage the risks and their significant financial implications.

Policy Support Programme (PSP) (Single phase)

01.06.2018 - 31.12.2019

Evidence-based analysis and data are crucial for Pakistan’s Sustainable Development Goals agenda. The proposed programme supports key stakeholders to improve pro-people policymaking and provides a platform for SDC to showcase lessons learned from over fifty years of development cooperation in Pakistan. Such knowledge transfer and institutionalization is important in the phasing out process of SDC’s Pakistan country programme.

Improving Water Governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (WGKP)

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2019

Water governance and water resource management are a critical development challenge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) since 18% of the KP population (corresponding to 5.4 million people) remain without access to safe drinking water. In line with the National Water Policy framework and capitalizing on SDC’s experience in the sector, the project aims at strengthening provincial water institutions to enhance water policy development and water service delivery to vulnerable communities in KP.

Support to Local Governance Programme (LoGo)

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2019

The programme will reduce the potential for conflict in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) by improving the relationship and trust between the people and the State; as part of the ongoing decentralization reform, the programme will strengthen the basis for accountable and participatory local government processes leading to more efficiency of local governments and public services responding to all citizens’ needs, including those of the most vulnerable.

Educational facilities for the Internally Displaced and street children

10.12.2016 - 31.12.2019

The internally displaced youth living often as street children in the low-income neighbourhoods of the capital city Islamabad and are deprived from basic education and protection services. The Mashal school educates IDP children from all over the country with a majority from KP and FATA, offers them a protective space, advises / counsels them on cultural, social and legal issues and help them to register under the government system by that laying the basis for future livelihood possibilities.

Pakistan: ADB, National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF)

01.12.2016 - 30.11.2019

Pakistan faces significant disaster risk and lacks institutional capacity and finance to tackle it. The National Disaster Risk Management Fund will enhance resilience of vulnerable communities, especially in KP and FATA, to natural hazards and will strengthen institutional capacity of authorities to disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. This will reduce socio-economic vulnerability of the people to natural hazards and ultimately poverty.

Strengthening Human Rights Protection Mechanisms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

01.06.2016 - 31.12.2019

This project will improve the protection of rights of the people in KP by strengthening the provincial human rights protection mechanisms. This will be achieved by strengthening the capacity of line departments to manage the rights related responsibilities that were devolved from the federal to the provincial government, by developing a human rights policy, and by raising awareness among civil society on the protection responsibilities of the government. 

Strengthening Rule of Law in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

15.12.2015 - 31.12.2019

The Strengthening Rule of Law in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) project aims to increase access to justice for the people, especially women and other vulnerable groups in KP, and support the government in its efforts to stabilise the region by strengthening the legal system. This project aims to support KP transition out of fragility by ‘establishing and strengthening people’s security’ and ‘addressing injustices’.

Object 1 – 12 of 16