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

Object 1 – 12 of 55

Better public services in fourteen of Benin’s communes

A woman and a man shake hands in front of a sign with Switzerland's logo and the names of the two towns involved in building the bridge.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Efforts to decentralise public services in Benin are paying off. The SDC is focusing on two of the country’s departments. Since 2008, when the first support programme was launched, significant progress has been seen on the ground.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Benin
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 8'500'000



Swiss communes improve access to water in countries of the South

Residents of Nouakchott dig a long straight trench in a sandy street to lay a section of the 50 kilometres of new water pipes in the Mauritanian capital, while a young girl is looking on from the edge of the pavement.

01.01.2016 - 31.10.2019

Solidarit’eau suisse is helping fund projects to improve access to clean drinking water in developing countries. Initiated by the SDC, this internet platform enables communes and other local authorities in Switzerland to consult the list of projects and, if they want to become more involved, make contact with partners abroad.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Switzerland
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH - Water for people)
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
WATER AND SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Basic drinking water supply and basic sanitation
Basic drinking water supply
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.01.2016 - 31.10.2019


CHF 710'000



Appui aux économies locales des collectivités de Youwarou et de Niafunké (PACY) Programme de Soutien aux Economies Locales du Delta intérieur du Niger (PSEL-DELTA)

01.07.2015 - 30.06.2019

Dans les régions du delta intérieur du Niger, au centre et au Nord du Mali, les populations rurales sont confrontées à des crises structurelles multiformes dont l’insécurité alimentaire. La DDC appuie les autorités locales avec des projets économiques dans les filières agricoles porteuses pour assurer la sécurité alimentaire et réduire la pauvreté d’au moins 150'000 personnes. En plus, elle accompagne les municipalités de cette zone dans la maitrise d’ouvrage du développement territorial et la gestion pacifique des ressources naturelles.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mali
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Agriculture and Food Security
Agriculture value-chain development
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Adaptation to the effects of climate change
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Rural development
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Environmental policy and administrative management

01.07.2015 - 30.06.2019


CHF 9'445'000



The members of municipal councils working for democracy

Women and men assembled in a community hall.

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020

With the ‘Empowering Municipal Councils’ project, Switzerland’s international cooperation is helping municipal councils in North Macedonia to become effective local authorities whose community policies take into account the interests of ordinary citizens.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Macedonia
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020


CHF 4'000'000



Improvement of the local self-governance system Armenia

Portrait photo of Srbuhy Grigoryan, an Armenian journalist who was able to take part in her town’s mayoral elections.

19.05.2014 - 30.06.2019

Switzerland has been supporting the Armenian government in its plans for territorial and administrative reform, particularly its plans to merge municipalities since 2014. The Goal of the program is to contribute to strengthening accountability and efficiency of the local self-governance system in Armenia.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

19.05.2014 - 30.06.2019


CHF 8'025'000



E-Governance for Accountability and Participation in Ukraine

Employees sitting at a row of workstations each talking to a client.

01.06.2013 - 30.06.2019

Corruption and difficulty accessing information are major problems for the people of Ukraine. The SDC is seeking to improve this situation and strengthen public confidence in the Ukrainian administration through its "E-Governance for Accountability and Participation" project.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Ukraine
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.06.2013 - 30.06.2019


CHF 4'750'000



Plannes Project: Promotion de la coopération transfrontalière locale

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2019

Jusqu’ici, l’UEMOA[1] a abordé l’intégration régionale par le haut, à travers les Etats. Les collectivités territoriales ne sont directement éligibles ni à ses allocations budgétaires[2], ni à ses programmes sectoriels. Le Conseil des Collectivités Territoriales (CCT) veut changer cette situation en initiant le PCTL qui donne aux élus locaux les ressources pour réaliser des projets transfrontaliers améliorant l’accès des populations aux services publics de base.  Il replace la décentralisation au cœur de l’intégration régionale et du développement socioéconomique.

[1] Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine créée en 1994 et regroupant huit pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest.

[2] De 1996 à 2006, l’UEMOA a alloué aux pays CHF 270'000'000 au titre de compensations financières liées à l’intégration. Ces ressources sont destinées exclusivement aux Gouvernements.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
West Africa
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Public sector policy and administrative management

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2019


CHF 8'187'500



Evaluating one's own competences and getting to know the world of employment in Romania

A young man demonstrates the hairdressing trade at a careers guidance event.

01.07.2012 - 30.06.2019

The project called "Job Orientation Training in Businesses and Schools (JOBS)" combines two systems: the school system with that of the job market. The programme prepares students in their final year at the classical upper secondary school and those in their first year at vo-tech middle schools to be better able to evaluate their own competences and become acquainted with the real working world. The objective is for the students to thus obtain information on the job opportunities open to them and increase their chances of embarking on the course of professional training that is best suited for them.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Romania
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions
Regional development and employment

01.07.2012 - 30.06.2019


CHF 2'116'280



Programme d’appui aux communes urbaines du Mali (PACUM)

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2019

Un des enjeux de la reconstruction du Mali se trouve dans la promotion de villes secondaires délivrant des services de base aux populations et redevables devant leurs citoyens. C’est l’objet de ce programme financé par la Banque Mondiale à hauteur de CHF 65’000'000. Sollicitée pour son savoir-faire en matière de développement local, la DDC apporte une contribution de CHF 18'200'000 (21% coût global) pour structurer la gouvernance à la base et soutenir les dotations d’investissement pour les villes de Koutiala et Tombouctou.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mali
Education
Agriculture and Food Security
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Rural infrastructure
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Rural infrastructure
Formal basic education (primary and lower secondary)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
TRANSPORT AND STORAGE
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
TRANSPORT AND STORAGE
EDUCATION
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Transport policy and administrative management
Public sector policy and administrative management
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Transport policy and administrative management
Primary education

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2019


CHF 18'220'000



Better Planning for Albania's Government

Meeting of the Government of Albania.

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2019

Albania’s economy, public finance, and debt remain areas of concern as the government tries to keep positive growth and stability in a challenging context. Although capacities for policy and financial planning have improved, there still is a need for better performance, monitoring and integrated planning. Since 2005 a group of donors including Switzerland introduced the Integrated Planning System, a tool that aids the government in strategy planning while observing budget constraints.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Albania
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Public financial management (including activities against corruption)
Public financial management (including activities against corruption)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Public finance management
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Public finance management

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2019


CHF 1'375'000



Territorial water governance in the Gulf of Fonseca region

01.04.2021 - 31.12.2027

The water governance system in the Gulf of Fonseca region needs significant change in order to overcome its dysfunctionality and ensure a sustainable supply of water. To this end, the program promotes coordinated management of five watersheds by the various public and private water users, addressing conflicts peacefully in a fragile context. In addition, support is provided for technical, legal and institutional solutions that also have an effect at the national level.


Strengthening of civil-political-economic rights and social auditing.

01.05.2020 - 30.06.2027

Strengthening civil-political-economic rights, freedom of expression and social auditing is a priority to ensure the functioning of the rule of law and respect for human rights in Honduras. The role of civil society is essential in the construction of citizenship and to ensure a system of check and balance. Therefore, the program will support 6 to 8 national civil society organization with strong anchoring in the territories to promote jointly in a concerted, impartial and evidence based way these topics.

Object 1 – 12 of 55