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 109 – 120 of 215

Réduction de risques de catastrophes naturelles dans le Sud et le Sud-est d’Haïti

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022

En Haïti, les catastrophes répétées détruisent les actifs des populations, les infrastructures économiques et provoquent des pertes en vies humaines. Elles freinent la croissance et le développement. Le projet vise à réduire les risques naturels via le transfert de compétences aux acteurs locaux, la sensibilisation des populations et la création de conditions favorables à la planification/réalisation des mesures de réduction de risques qui protègent les personnes vulnérables de certaines communes du Sud et du Sud-est, 2 des départements les plus à risques.


Strengthened and Informative Migration Systems (SIMS)

16.08.2018 - 14.12.2023

Labour migration remains a key driver for development in Bangladesh. The present project strengthens the socio-economic development of the country by providing better life perspectives for migrant workers. It enables migrant workers and their families to take informed decisions towards a productive and safe migration experience with reduced social costs. This supports implementation of the parliamentary mandate to better link Swiss migration policy with international cooperation.


Safer Migration (SaMI III) project

16.07.2018 - 15.07.2022

Labour migration is positively affecting Nepal’s socio-economic development with remittances significantly reducing poverty. Nevertheless, the rights of migrants are often violated. The Safer Migration project will empower migrants and their families and strengthen government protection mechanisms. The project will benefit about 600’000 men and women in three states of Nepal and enable about 60 local governments to run foreign employment services.


Towards Transparent, Inclusive and Accountable Governance in the Republic of Macedonia

15.07.2018 - 30.06.2022

The project aims at increasing gender equality in Macedonia and the quality of life for women and vulnerable groups by 1) systematically integrating a gender perspective in public policies and budgets which leads to the allocation of more funds for greater gender equality in strategies and policies; 2) empowering women and vulnerable groups to advocate for their needs in municipal planning and budgeting; and 3) supporting CSOs and Members of Parliament in overseeing the implementation of gender responsive policies and initiatives.


Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Phase 2

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

Land governance remains at the centre of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), and land expropriation is a key driver of new poverty and food insecurity. The governments in the region have begun to turn their attention to legal and policy issues on land governance. This creates an opportunity for MRLG and the Reform Actors it brings together, to contribute to improvements in policies and practices regarding land tenure security for family farmers.


Integrated Water Resources Management in the Barind areas

01.07.2018 - 30.06.2023

By promoting the coordinated, equitable and sustainable development and management of water, land and related resources, and addressing the institutional challenges associated with integrated water resources management, the project intends to ensure access to sufficient and safe water for the disadvantaged people of the Barind tracts in North-Western Bangladesh.   


Anti-corruption and Accountability

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2023

Based on the relationship of trust between Switzerland and Mozambique and specific Swiss expertise and interest to tackle economic crime and recovery of assets the program will reduce corruption in Mozambique by strengthening the capacity of 1. Government institutions to effectively tackle corruption, economic crime and recover stolen assets 2. Civil society organizations to influence the public and the private sector for improved transparency and accountability.


Appui à la citoyenneté dans le cycle électoral Malien

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2023

Les élections présidentielle, législatives, régionales et locales organisées en 2018 puis en 2019 au Mali sont décisives pour la stabilité du pays et de la région. A travers le programme EMERGE de l’USAID, la Suisse contribue à la tenue d’élections crédibles, inclusives et apaisées. Elle participe à la consolidation du processus démocratique et à la prévention des conflits, avec un accent sur la participation des femmes et des jeunes aux élections. Elle contribue à la sécurité globale, dans l’intérêt direct de la Suisse.


Fostering Active Civic Engagement

01.07.2018 - 30.09.2030

Moldova’s democracy is still young and fragile. The population is hesitant to participate in decision-making and to demand their rights. Good-quality civic education is an essential element for promoting democratic values, raising awareness about the rights and responsibilities of every citizen, and for stimulating a stronger civic engagement. Switzerland supports Moldova in providing children and adolescents with opportunities to apply civic learning inside and outside the classroom.


Programme de Développement des Infrastructures Économiques et Marchandes au Bénin (PDIEM)

01.07.2018 - 30.06.2022

La phase 1 du PDIEM a rénové 6 infrastructures économiques et marchandes d’importance nationale/régionale, pour dynamiser l’économie locale. Le gouvernement a demandé de répliquer ce projet à d’autres endroits. En cofinancement avec les communes et l’Etat, la phase 2 rénove 4 autres infrastructures, intégrant la gestion des déchets. Les revenus contribueront à entretenir les marchés, les taxes générées seront réinvesties pour des services publics améliorant les conditions de vie.


GEPAC- Gestión participativa local en la recuperación del Centro Histórico

01.06.2018 - 31.05.2021

GEPAC contribuye a la descentralización en Cuba creando herramientas de participación ciudadana directa en la planificación, la gestión urbana y la decisión sobre el uso de recursos financieros locales y de fortalecimiento del pequeño sector productivo no estatal con un enfoque de responsabilidad social e inclusión, priorizando oportunidades y demandas para personas de la tercera edad, mujeres, jóvenes y grupos en desventaja. 


Support to the Juvenile Justice Reform

01.05.2018 - 30.04.2021

Since 2010, the child justice system in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has undertaken a process of reform to which UNICEF, SDC and Sida have greatly contributed. Today the legal framework on juvenile justice is compliant with international standards, but the system for its implementation still needs to be strenghtened. This last project phase will focus on building the human capacity of justice and child protection professionals, and ensuring that adequate financial means are provided by the Government to implement this framework throughout the country. Awareness of children and their families about their rights and demanding access to justice will also be a priority.

Object 109 – 120 of 215