Decentralization and local good governance, ensuring development in line with the needs of communities

Figure: A large administration building is surrounded by four smaller buildings overlaid by objects symbolising decision-making powers and financial resources.
The SDC supports administrative reforms that allow powers and financial resources to be devolved from central to local government. © SDC

The majority of national policies are implemented on a devolved basis, i.e. at provincial level or within rural or urban communities. However, the communities concerned often lack the necessary expertise or resources. The SDC aims to address this through a realignment of the capabilities and finances needed to promote effective delivery of public services. This is the best way to attain the global objectives for sustainable development backed by Switzerland. 

The SDC believes that the concerns of local communities are better addressed at local level. The representatives of public-sector organisations usually have greater insight into the developmental needs of local communities and are more readily accessible to citizens. It is easier to manage and maintain an overview of economic and social conditions in medium-sized economies. It is also easier to organise cooperative development projects in this context. Communities are more likely to work on solutions in their specific locality.

The necessary conditions can be established by transferring decision-making powers, responsibility for public services and the requisite funding to decentralised bodies. However, the danger remains that mismanagement, the unjust enrichment of elites and inequality may permeate down to lower levels of government. As a result, the SDC also works to strengthen decentralised forms of good governance, including the efficient management of funds, transparency, public participation and accountability, with the ultimate aim of supporting local development for the benefit of all population groups. 

Supporting decentralisation reforms

Decentralisation reforms facilitate coordinated measures for transferring functions, decision-making powers and budgetary resources and promote effective interaction between different levels of government. To this end, the SDC supports broad-based dialogue on reforms and, for example, encourages local associations to address the concerns of their members. The SDC provides the expertise required by the relevant local bodies to ensure that responsibilities are properly shared and financial powers defined. Alongside economic considerations and efficiency criteria, the SDC is guided by the principle of subsidiarity, i.e. the principle that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to citizens. 

Enhancing good governance at local level

The SDC supports government agencies in delivering relevant services at local level (e.g. education and health, waste management, land-use planning and economic development). It helps agencies consolidate their planning and oversight authority and provides encouragement and guidance on consulting a range of social interest groups. It also supports measures to improve practices relating to data, public information and reporting. The SDC encourages local authorities to diversify their funding base by raising taxes or other forms of finance to help implement their plans. It also promotes balanced accounting and transparent budget management. The SDC also focuses on local parliaments and courts as well as ensuring involvement of citizens and the media to participate with critical scrutiny and public debate to balanced decision-making and reporting. 

Promoting economic development at local level

The development areas targeted by the SDC may extend beyond administrative borders or combine rural regions with urban development centres. Such areas may not be covered by central government. Switzerland therefore promotes measures to support coordinated development projects through partnerships between the public and private sectors and social interest groups. The SDC supports joint planning processes based on an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of local economies and the opportunities and risks involved. It also promotes cooperation between devolved bodies, advising local authorities, for example, on creating optimum conditions for private sector investment. Such advice may cover matters such as market infrastructure, transport routes, methods of communication, transparent tax policy, legislative frameworks and legal certainty, with a view to creating better employment and income-earning opportunities.

Current projects

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Single-phase project: Enhancing Peace and Economic Prosperity through Women's Leadership and Inclusion (Women for Peace & Prosperity)

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2028

In line with the priorities of the Governments of Moldova and Switzerland, the project aims to socially and economically empower women, including refugee women from Ukraine, increase their participation in decision-making and the workforce, promote their entrepreneurial activities, and finally contribute to a just, equal, inclusive and resilient society and economy in Moldova. The project will promote gender-responsive policies and initiatives to address key barriers to women's socio-economic inclusion.


Good Financial Governance (GFG)

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2027

The project contributes to strengthen Tanzania’s public financial system, a central element to cement its economic status. The 3rd phase aims at expanding the mobilization of domestic revenue and improving the government’s expenditure control. It shall strengthen interinstitutional mechanisms for tax data exchange, enhance the audit system, and improve public procurement. At policy level, it seeks to develop an evidence-based and gender responsive fiscal strategy for better public service delivery to benefit the population, especially the poor.


Citizen Participation and Conflict Prevention programme (PCPC)

01.05.2024 - 31.12.2029

Rwanda has achieved notable progress with regard to socioeconomic development and improved social cohesion. However, the role of citizens in decision-making and in holding leaders to account remains insufficient affecting the sustainability of results. This programme will increase the capability of the 30 districts in Rwanda to properly engage citizens in decision-making processes and will strengthen local conflict-resolution mechanisms, hence contributing to improved accountability and lasting social cohesion.


Anti-corruption and Accountability

01.04.2024 - 31.12.2027

Building on the results achieved in the first phase, Switzerland will contribute to reduce corruption in Mozambique by (1) improving and strengthening legal institutions and the judicial framework (2) strengthening anticorruption institutions to effectively tackle corruption, economic crime and the recovery, management of stolen assets and (3) supporting civil society organisations at national and local level in the fight against corruption. 


Civil Society for Democracy

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2028

Switzerland supports civil society in Kosovo – towards a strong and sustainable democracy actor, by contributing together with other development partners to the local re-granting scheme, administered by the Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF). Various types of grants (for activities, organisational strengthening, etc.) and capacity development enable improved organisational and financial capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), strengthened constituency relations and increased civic engagement in public affairs.


Burundi – Programme conjoint sur les droits humains

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

La situation des droits de l’homme au Burundi reste préoccupante en raison de la persistance des violations des droits de l’homme et de l'absence d'obligation de rendre des comptes. Le Programme conjoint sur les droits humains est une initiative multipartite (Gouvernement et bailleurs de fonds) qui vise à promouvoir l’application du cadre légal en matière de droits de l’homme par des institutions crédibles et efficaces.


Pl SER Active Civil society Ph2

01.11.2023 - 31.10.2027

ACT-2 improves citizens’ participation in decision making at the local and national level through and with the support of civil society organizations (CSOs). Selected mission-driven CSOs are supported to strengthen constituency, diversify funding and effectively engage in advocacy. They jointly advocate with complementary CSOs and informal groups to increase impact and legitimacy. CSOs initiate dialogue and collaboration with local authorities, private sector and media to achieve development results.


Ma Implic- Civic engagement in LG, ph.2

01.11.2023 - 31.10.2027

Moldova is firmly committed to improve governance and service delivery at the local level through a local governance reform, which is also a necessary step in view of the possible accession to the European Union. This project will support the Moldovan national authorities in advancing the local governance reform, and the local authorities in designing and implementing more inclusive and transparent local governance practices and a more efficient delivery of various public services.


REG: Core Contribution to the RCC

15.10.2023 - 31.12.2026

The Regional Cooperation Council was officially launched in 2008 as the successor to the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. The Berlin Process in 2014 gave a new impetus to the regional cooperation and positioned the Council as a medium for communication between the Western Balkan and the EU. It represents an important tool for fostering the stability in the region by bringing together 46 countries, international organisations and banks, mainly from the EU, South East Europe and Western Balkans. 


Human Rights Grants (HRG) program in Tajikistan

01.10.2023 - 30.11.2025

The Human Rights grants program will support local and international organizations working in Tajikistan on acute Human Rights issues. The program will provide cofunding opportunities to selected projects related to child rights, freedom of press, human rights in custody, prevention of gender-based violence and the rights of migrants/refugees.


Contr. to UNESCO media project

01.10.2023 - 30.09.2026

The project will strengthen citizen’s access to information, accountability and transparency of governmental institutions and enhance the quality of the media and information landscape in Uzbekistan. UNESCO as implementing partner has a solid partnership with the government and supports ongoing legislative reforms with expertise, ensuring alignment with international standards, capacity building for key government stakeholders (incl. judiciary, law enforcement bodies) and media competence of professionals.


Contribution to OHCHR capacity strenght

01.10.2023 - 31.12.2025

The project aims to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in Uzbekistan ensuring justice for victims of human rights abuses, enhancing civic space, integrating human rights principles into development and implementing UN Human Rights Mechanisms recommendation. Upon invitation by the President of Uzbekistan OHCHR has expanded its presence in the country. 

Object 1 – 12 of 203