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 121 – 132 of 211

P4H – Global Network for Health Financing and Social Protection

01.01.2018 - 30.06.2021

Annually 100 million people fall into poverty worldwide because of health-related costs. Therefore Universal Health Coverage, defined as all people receive the quality health services they need without enduring financial hardship, is a key target of the Sustainable Development Agenda. P4H is a global network of multilateral and bilateral partners who provide coherent support to low-/middle-income countries to build sustainable health financing and social protection systems for universal health coverage.


Capacity building for Serbian municipalities

Around 50 parliamentarians in session at the Serbian parliament.

01.01.2018 - 30.06.2022

Switzerland is supporting the Serbian government’s public administration reform, which aims to make it more effective and accessible to both citizens and the private sector. SwissPRO project is being run in 99 municipalities (two-thirds of Serbia) to improve good governance, social inclusion and gender equality.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Serbia
Governance
Human rights
Gender

Decentralisation
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Women’s equality organisations and institutions

01.01.2018 - 30.06.2022


CHF 7'990'000



Strengthening Associations of Municipalities and Cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

01.01.2018 - 31.01.2022

In the complex institutional and legal system and incomplete policy context for decentralisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the two entity Associations of Municipalities and Cities (AMCs) are formally recognized as actors of decentralization, advocating for local governments (LGs). The project aims at enhancing AMCs’ capacities to actively support local governments in the provision of efficient services to their citizens, and to improve LGs role, status and position towards higher levels of government in BiH.


Decentralization and Municipal Support in Kosovo (DEMOS)

Two young people rollerblading on a cycle path..

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Since the declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo has been engaged in the reform and decentralisation of its public authorities with the aim of strengthening autonomy and local democracy in its 38 municipalities. The SDC's “Decentralisation and Municipal Support” project (DEMOS) aims to help municipalities enhance democratic governance and municipal management and provide better public services, thereby supporting Kosovo in its transition to a democratic and decentralised state.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Governance

Decentralisation
Democratic participation and civil society

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021


CHF 12'800'000



Support to strengthening Social Inclusion in Serbia

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

The programme is a contribution to improve the design, coordination and implementation of social inclusion policies of the Government of Serbia within the mandate of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit (SIPRU), which is affiliated to the Prime Minister’s Office. The quality and the capacities for implementation of the required social reforms, in the Europan integration process, will be improved and state institutions at national and local level will be able to better respond to the needs of vulnerable citizens.


Contribution to the country office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (OHCHR)

Human rights mural

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

The OHCHR has established itself as the principal point of reference for critically positioning human rights in the public and political agenda of Honduras. It will continue to strive to provide protection of individuals and communities whose rights are at risk or denied, while also working to further develop institutions, laws and policies that effectively protect human rights. This will contribute to rule of law and providing the necessary framework for equitable and sustainable development.


Institutional Support to Network of Associations of Local Authorities in South East Europe (NALAS) - Exit Phase

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022

The final phase of SDC's support to the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South East Europe — NALAS, will focus on the institution's sustainability and on consolidating NALAS' expertise on decentralization. Engaging in strategic partnerships with regional and international networks and institution, NALAS will continue to provide knowledge, policy advice and smart services to local authorities in 12 countries in South East Europe to promote sustainable, inclusive and resilient communities across the region.


Advancing Land Use Rights

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Competition for land in Mozambique is sharply increasing. Despite favourable land legislation for the protection of interests and rights of the local communities the concretization of these rights is still precarious. SDC’s program supports the realization of these community rights to land and its benefits through institutional development, strengthening dialogue and practical collaboration between local government, civil society and private sector in order to contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable development.


Program contribution to OHCHR for promotion and protection of human rights in the oPt

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2029

Switzerland supports the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to contribute to the effective realization of adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law in the oPt and to influence the behaviour of the relevant duty bearers. OHCHR has an exceptional role both in the humanitarian and development spheres in the oPt’s complex context of multiple duty bearers and harsh political and humanitarian realities.


Strengthening the Right to Adequate Food, FIAN International

01.01.2018 - 31.10.2021

With 815 million undernourished people in 2017, the right to food as laid in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still not realized. For the past thirty years, FIAN International has raised awareness about people’s right to food worldwide and expanded spaces for civil society to hold governments more accountable. This project will promote effective participation of rights holders in food security and nutrition policies and governance mechanisms and be complemented by SDC support  to the mandate of the UN Special rapporteur on the right to food.


Albania: PACEP (Support to Parliament and Civic Education Project)

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022

The Albanian Parliament will be supported to enhance the performance and professionalism of its administration and improve its representative, oversight and legislative functions. Educated citizens and engaged civil society contribute toward more accountability in decision making processes and benefit from a well-functioning parliament.


Non-earmarked contribution to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the occupied Palestinian territory

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Siwtzerland supports the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to carry out its mandate to provide capacity building for the Palestinian Authority and civil society as well as to monitor and report on human rights situation and policy development. This program is in line with Switzerland’s strong commitment in support to OHCHR and contributes to reinforce Switzerland’s policy dialogue with OHCHR Geneva office and to pursue Swiss human rights program in the oPt.

Object 121 – 132 of 211