South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan)

Switzerland's involvement in the South Caucasus is aimed at the needs and priorities of the three partner states in the region, and concentrates on the following thematic focal points: Economic development and employment, good governance and public services, as well as human security and protection. A total of almost CHF 110 million is to be allocated for the implementation of various projects by the end of 2016.

Map of the region South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan)

The South Caucasus is plagued by various unresolved territorial conflicts in Georgia (Abkhazia, South Ossetia), as well as between Armenia and Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh). The region is also of considerable geopolitical importance in view of its position as an energy transport corridor from the East to the West. Last but not least, the tense security situation also poses a great obstacle to sustainable economic growth and social well-being in the three South Caucasus countries. In particular, the living conditions of rural populations, internally displaced persons and refugees are often very precarious. None of the three countries are considered to be democratic or "free" in the Western European sense.

In addition to humanitarian aid, the SDC also provides extensive technical assistance with the aim of taking concrete measures to support the ongoing political, economic and social transition in the three former Soviet republics. The 2013-2016 Swiss cooperation strategy for the South Caucasus has been developed together by the SDC, FDFA Directorate of Political Affairs and SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), and is being implemented in a complementary and coordinated way.

Switzerland's approach to offering support is needs-oriented and based on cooperation. Great value is placed on the sustainability of the assistance provided. Where possible, the needs of both men and women are also taken equally into account. A peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus is also in Switzerland's best interest.

Economic development and employment

Economic growth for the well-being of all

The SDC promotes rural economic development in the three South Caucasus countries with the aim of securing a higher and more stable income for poor farming households. In concrete terms, subsistence farmers are integrated into existing or newly-developing agricultural value-added chains, providing them with access to markets, credit, vocational training and agricultural consultancy services.

The SDC also supports communities in Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia affected by conflict or natural disaster with tailor-made projects to build houses and reconstruct community facilities such as kindergartens and schools. Grants for the self-employed or for small and medium-sized businesses help to improve living conditions for these vulnerable communities, as well as their long-term integration into society.

In Azerbaijan, SECO contributes to improving general conditions for small and medium-sized businesses as well as to developing the financial sector. In addition, the transparency and accountability of public financial management is also being strengthened.

Good governance and public services

Rule of law for the people

Together with the respective central governments, the SDC aims to support the local and regional authorities in Armenia and Georgia in providing these citizen-oriented services and in creating the general conditions necessary for sustainable economic growth in the region. In addition, the SDC endeavours to strengthen capacity to deal with natural disasters within the Armenian and Georgian authorities and amongst the local population.

To improve rule of law in the three South Caucasus countries, the FDFA Human Security Division is financing projects in a variety of fields such as electoral assistance, gender equality and human security in its broadest sense. SECO is promoting sustainable economic growth and economic governance in Azerbaijan, as well as supporting projects to build decentralised facilities for efficient water supplies.

Conflict transformation and advocacy

Human security and protection

The FDFA Directorate of Political Affairs is intensifying its efforts to find peaceful solutions to the various conflicts in the region. This is being carried out through high-level diplomatic initiatives as well as through targeted support for confidence-building measures. Switzerland's chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014 can play an important role in facilitating these efforts.

Switzerland also continues to run humanitarian programmes providing assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons together with its international partner organisations, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). By the end of 2016, the SDC Humanitarian Aid department will no longer be operational in the South Caucasus.

History of cooperation

From disaster relief to holistic development cooperation

The SDC's involvement in the South Caucasus dates back to the devastating earthquakes in northern Armenia in 1988. Since then, the SDC's work in the region has been continually expanded and intensified. In 1999, the SDC and SECO opened a regional cooperation office in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, and Switzerland now has an embassy in each of the three South Caucasus capitals. Swiss support in the South Caucasus is exemplified above all by its holistic and complementary approach in providing technical and financial support on the one hand, as well as humanitarian aid and the promotion of peace on the other.

Current projects

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Supporting livestock traceability in the South Caucasus

The image shows a close-up of a calf with an identification tag in its right ear.

15.06.2016 - 30.11.2020

Identifying where animals have come from and recording information about their health is essential in modern agriculture to prevent the spread of diseases and stop products from diseased animals reaching the market. A system to ensure traceability will help to improve the incomes of farmers in the South Caucasus by increasing both herd productivity and the producers’ access to markets.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Agriculture and Food Security
Agriculture value-chain development

15.06.2016 - 30.11.2020


CHF 3'985'000



Livestock Development in the South of Armenia

Armenian Farmer with his calf

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2020

In the provinces of Syunik and Vayots Dzor in southern Armenia, the agricultural sector mostly comprises subsistence farming where farmers are barely able to support their households. This project aims to help farmers increase their milk and meat production, and thus their incomes, by supporting local veterinary services (to improve animal health), facilitating access to milk and meat markets, and promoting the sharing of know-how among farmers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Economy and Employment
Agriculture value-chain development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2020


CHF 10'000'000



Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme in Georgia

01.03.2014 - 30.06.2017

In the regions of Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Adjara in southern Georgia, many family farms have only small numbers of livestock and operate at a subsistence level that merely enables them to get by. This project aims to help these farmers increase their income, not only by improving their productivity but also by providing them with better access to the meat and milk markets. This involves integrating the different elements of the production chain from farmers to processing companies, wholesalers and service providers such as veterinary surgeons, through to the consumers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Agriculture and Food Security
Economy and Employment
Agriculture value-chain development
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
Financial inclusion (global & policy level)
Insurance (micro and meso level)

01.03.2014 - 30.06.2017


CHF 9'181'000



Modernising vocational education and training related to agriculture in Georgia

The image shows the VET college student Medea getting hands-on instructions in the Senaki College greenhouse on growing vegetables.

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2018

Georgia’s vocational education and training (VET) system does not correspond to the needs of the transition to a market economy which the government has sought to bring about since the country gained its independence. The SDC is helping the Georgian government to develop a more modern VET system that integrates theory and practice and allows a long-term increase in farm productivity and rural incomes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Economy and Employment
Education
Agriculture and Food Security
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
Vocational training and skills development
Agriculture value-chain development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2018


CHF 6'547'000



Rural Development in the Region of Meghri, Armenia

The picture shows an Armenian producer standing next to one of his fruit trees.

17.12.2012 - 31.07.2017

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the break-up of the country's vast collective farms, subsistence farming has become the norm in armenia's fruit-growing industry. Through this project, the SDC is helping fruit-growers in the region of Meghri in the south of the country to improve and develop their crops and sell their produce on the market.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Agriculture value-chain development
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)

17.12.2012 - 31.07.2017


CHF 3'580'000



Alliances Caucasus Programme

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021

Livestock farming is the main economic activity for the majority of poor households in the rural areas of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Through better access to services, inputs and diversified markets, farmers are expected to substantially improve their livelihood. Strengthening regional links and enhancing access to regional markets of live animals and animal products will make the livestock sector more profitable and increase competitiveness of the sector, contributing in turn to higher incomes of farmers and employment opportunities in rural areas.


Market Opportunities for Livelihood Improvement in Kakheti, Georgia

01.12.2015 - 30.11.2018

Livestock farming is the main economic activity for the majority of poor households in the Kakheti region of Georgia. Through better access to markets, services and inputs for the dairy and meat value chains, target farmers will substantially improve their income. By the end of the project phase 27’000 households will have benefitted directly from improved access to markets, services, inputs, a more conducive operating environment and better protection from natural disasters. 


Improvement of the Local Self Governance System in Armenia

19.05.2014 - 30.06.2019

Switzerland is joining forces with several donors and implementers to support the Government and the municipalities in reforming the Armenian local self-governance system. Designed around governmental plans to enlarge municipalities and contributing to existing interventions by other donors, this program will provide both technical assistance in the form of capacity building and expertise for strengthening local governance and decentralization as well as facilitate access of municipalities to capital investments for local and regional development and improving public service delivery and infrastructure.


Regional and Municipal Infrastructure Development in Georgia

10.04.2014 - 31.05.2019

The project will increase human and institutional capacities of all municipalities in Georgia (except the capital city Tbilisi). lt will enable them to perform independently the core three functions for decentralised delivery of basic infrastructure services, i. e. Project Cycle Management, Financial Management and Asset Management. Such a decentralized System will enable the Government to better respond to population needs at local level.



Fostering Regional and Local Development in Georgia

15.12.2012 - 31.07.2017

The strengthening of local and regional governance Systems through capacity building, mobilization of local human resources and better coordination of public Investments is expected to improve inclusive development of rural regions of Georgia. This will contribute to the transition from the inherited highly centralized Soviet administration to a decentralized System and to reduce the significant economic divide between the urban and rural population.


Regional Art and Culture Programme in the South Caucasus

01.10.2012 - 30.06.2017

The present project promotes contemporary arts as an open and interactive platform that can display new perspectives and social mechanisms to the audience, and that can support and stimulate South Caucasian artists. It will be implemented by Georgian and international organizations and focuses on contemporary dance and experimental arts; small grants; arts for marginalised communities; and capacity building of arts and culture institutions.

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