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 181 – 192 of 212

Renforcement de la gouvernance locale de l’eau et de l’assainissement (REGLEAU)

01.10.2016 - 30.11.2022

Le programme REGLEAU vise l’amélioration des conditions de vie des populations grâce à l’augmentation de la disponibilité et l’amélioration de la qualité des services d’eau potable et d’assainissement. L’expérience et l’expertise reconnue de la Suisse en matière de gouvernance locale de l’eau permettront d’accompagner les acteurs du secteur de l’eau dans six communes du département du Sud-Est pour permettre une gouvernance locale de ces services, tout en contribuant à l’amélioration des conditions-cadres au niveau régional et national. 


Responsible Governance of Land Tenure through Voluntary Guidelines

01.10.2016 - 30.06.2021

The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) are an international standard that promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating poverty. SDC supports a multi-donor programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that assists a number of countries in West Africa and East Asia in the implementation and the integration of the VGGT into their legislation by providing technical and institutional support.


Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF III), Phase 4

01.10.2016 - 31.12.2021

Since 2002, the Poverty Reduction Fund is a main programme in Lao PDR that effectively and efficiently delivers resources and public services, such as water supply, dispensaries, schools and village roads to the poorest villages in remote areas. PRF contributes to reduce rural poverty through enabling poor communities to assess their own needs and priorities through participatory mechanism and to determine how best to use resources to maximize their social and economic development.


Support to the DPCG (Development Partners’ Coordination Group) Secretariat in Rwanda

15.09.2016 - 15.09.2019

Switzerland and the UK, in an effort to facilitate a broad and fruitful development policy dialogue in Rwanda, will dedicate financial resources towards a UNDP support to the line ministry in charge of aid coordination. It entails, on the one hand, carrying out analytical research leading to evidence-based policy decision, and, on the other hand, the efficient management of the Development Partners’ Coordination Group (DPCG) Secretariat.


Citizen Engagement for Good Governance, Accountability and the Rule of Law (CEGGA)

01.06.2016 - 31.03.2022

In Lao PDR, the space for citizens’ involvement in public affairs is a challenge, as the overall environment for the civil society is strongly controlled and not conducive. While the National Assembly (NA) is assuming a more assertive oversight and representative role, it still faces many constraints to function as an effective representative body. The new CEGGA Programme will provide more opportunities for Lao CSOs to engage in the country development processes, and to collaborate with the NA in bringing local experience, lessons learned and citizen’s voice to the NA. It will also strengthen the NA’s autonomous role, contributing to a greater formal division of power, and to engage more systematically with non-state actors as part of its deliberations on draft legislation.


Joint Peace Fund (JPF)

01.04.2016 - 31.12.2021

The Joint Peace Fund (JPF) is a multi-donor fund for joint action in, on and around the peace process, bringing together conflict parties (GoM and armed groups), civil society organizations and international donors. The JPF is managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and a Technical Secretariat from the Nordic International Support Foundation (NIS). As there is no peace without development and no development without peace, this fund is crucial for a concerted action of all stakeholders.


Inclusive territorial economic development in the Muskitia region, department of Gracias a Dios

cocoa drying

01.03.2016 - 31.08.2021

The economic development programme is carried out in the Honduran Muskitia, a fragile indigenous territory with great productive potential. The program empowers the territorial stakeholders in the cocoa and fishing value chains and the basic grains production chain located in the mid and lower watershed of the Patuca river. It promotes public-private alliances that respect indigenous rights in accordance to the convention 169 of the international labor organization. These public-private alliances generate 3000 new jobs and increase the income of 1500 indigenous families by 10-30%.


Decentralized Rural Infrastructure and Livelihood Project (DRILP) – Phase III

01.01.2016 - 31.07.2021

DRILP Phase 3 will support the Government of Nepal to accelerate recovery and reconstruction following the devastating earthquake of 25 April 2015 and the major aftershock of 12 May 2015. The project will provide the Technical Assistance (TA) to implement the Asian Development Bank (ADB) financed Earthquake Emergency Assistance Project in rebuilding 450 kms of damaged roads in 12 districts[1] of Nepal and rehabilitate 200 kms of trails in two[2] districts.

[1] The 12 earthquake affected project districts are Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Kavre, Sindhuli, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Lamjung, Gorkha and Chitwan

[2] Dolakha and Gorkha


Territorial water governance in the Gulf of Fonseca region

Without water, there is no life

01.01.2016 - 17.04.2021

The programme facilitates the establishment of a system of territorial water governance, sustainable and integral water resource management, and the construction of 6 strategic water works as a result of private-public agreement in the Choluteca, Sampile and Nacaome watersheds in the region of the Gulf of Fonseca. The program empowers public-private water users and political stakeholders who lead national water policy and it indirectly benefits 66,000 families.


Programme de développement social en milieu urbain (PDSU)Programme de développement économique local et de sécurité alimentaire à Koutiala

01.01.2016 - 30.06.2021

Le Programme Sigida Kura a permis d’améliorer les capacités de planification et de gestion des 37  collectivités territoriales du cercle de Koutiala qui ont réalisé des infrastructures permettant d’améliorer  la sécurité alimentaire dans le cercle, d’augmenter les revenus des producteurs et de créer plus de 230 emplois permanents. Avec cette dernière phase, la DDC poursuit son accompagnement aux collectivités territoriales qui mettent en place un cadre durable de leur développement économique local.


PREST 5, Pistes rurales et désenclavement à l’Est

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2021

Les routes constituent un soutien à la croissance économique par la mobilité des personnes et des marchandises. Au Burkina Faso, elles demeurent en deçà des besoins et des référentiels de l’espace UEMOA. Partant de ce constat et sur l’expérience de la DDC, le gouvernement a souhaité que la Suisse finance conjointement un projet d’infrastructures et de mobilité avec la Banque Mondiale avec la méthode haute intensité de main d’œuvre (HIMO). Un inventaire des initiatives basées sur la méthode HIMO dans les 13 régions a été lancé en vue d’élaborer une politique nationale HIMO. La DDC s’engage à contribuer à ce projet et valorise la méthode HIMO à l’échelle nationale.


Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (ZimRef)

01.12.2015 - 31.12.2021

The Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund is a multi-donor trust fund that supports the Government of Zimbabwe in its reconstruction and development efforts in particular by strengthening the Zimbabwean public finance management and accountability system for improved service delivery, including in the health sector. The fund, with its management mechanism, is currently a key instrument of dialogue and experience sharing between the donors and the Government of Zimbabwe.

Object 181 – 192 of 212