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 13 – 24 of 221

Territorial water governance in the Gulf of Fonseca Region - phase II

01.04.2021 - 30.06.2024

The Program facilitates the empowerment of the Watershed Councils of the Nacaome, Choluteca and Sampile rivers in the Gulf of Fonseca Region in terms of their leadership and sustainable and participatory management of the water governance system. This contributes to collaborative processes and investments in the frame of the formulation and implementation of watershed plans, indirectly benefiting 500,000 inhabitants.


Support to Parliamentary Centre of Asia

01.04.2021 - 31.12.2024

The Parliamentary Centre of Asia (PCAsia) builds the capacities of Parliaments in ASEAN countries in particular Cambodia and Laos plus Myanmar if the situation allows (CLM) to promote democratic accountability in the region. Complemented by the technical assistance of the Swiss Parliamentary Services (SPS), the Swiss contribution to PCAsia will support the capacity building of professional, non-partisan, ethical and accountable parliamentary services.


Resilience for Pastoralist Communities in Northern Kenya

01.03.2021 - 31.07.2025

Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environ-ments of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). In order to support pastoralists, this programme contributes to strengthening public and private institutions in the water and livestock sectors, putting policy frameworks in place to ensure efficient county-wide and cross-border water and rangeland management systems, and to increase access to water and pasture.


Mekong River Commission (MRC) – Contribution to the basket fund for the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2021-2025

01.03.2021 - 31.12.2025

The Mekong River Commission is the only treaty-based intergovernmental organisation for the Mekong River Basin with a clear mandate for integrated water resources management, procedures and tools to support equitable use of water and address transboundary issues. Switzerland with its experience in water diplomacy and management contributes to the implementation of the new Basin Development Strategy (2021-2030) and Strategic Plan (2021-2025) through the multi-donor Basket Fund. 


Programme d’Appui aux Collectivités Territoriales (PACT)

01.03.2021 - 31.12.2025

Malgré des avancées substantielles, les réformes en cours liées à la décentralisation au Niger sont ralenties dans leur mise en œuvre effective par un manque de ressources humaines et financières. La Suisse entend soutenir l’Etat pour améliorer les conditions cadres propices à la gouvernance locale et pour renforcer les collectivités territoriales en vue d’assurer la délivrance de services publics de qualité aux populations et ainsi contribuer à la stabilité du Niger.


Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies (Sustainable Develoment Goal 16+)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2030

The promotion of peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16) is integral to the success of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In order to accelerate its implementation, a group of UN Member States are coming together to leveraging intersections within the Agenda (16+) and to accelerate national and international implementation, while building a movement of the willing around three grand challenges. Switzerland is a co-convener, a member and a donor to this initiative.


Organisation Mondiale contre la Torture (OMCT)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2025

L’intervention a pour objectifs de renforcer la responsabilisation des acteurs publics pour les violations des droits humains et de contribuer à la réforme de l’environnement institutionnel pour prévenir la torture et réduire l’impunité en Tunisie. Elle offre une assistance directe aux victimes et promeut une meilleure conduite professionnelle des forces sécuritaires et carcérales. L’OMCT travaille aussi en lien étroit avec la société civile pour mener des plaidoyers communs contre la torture et l’impunité des responsables.


UNDP – Core Contribution 2021

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2021

UNDP is the leading UN organisation working on poverty eradication, governance, rule of law and conflict prevention. It also provides coordination and back office services to the UN Resident Coordinator System. Switzerland supports UNDP because it is its most important partner in the UN Development System to work on poverty eradication, sustainable development, good governance and conflict prevention. 


International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) / Phase VII of core contribution (2021-2024)

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland has since many years a very proactive asset recovery policy, and has returned more than USD 2 bio. of stolen assets to countries of origin. The International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) is a Swiss based, independent competence centre in asset recovery. Its mission is supporting affected countries to investigate and prosecute financial crimes, with the goal of strengthening anti-corruption institutions and recovering stolen public assets. Due to the growing demand by developing countries for support in asset recovery, and ICAR’s unique position in this field, Switzerland / SDC continue will continue this strategic partnership.


Redevabilité, sécurité et prévention de l’extrémisme violent pour les citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens RESPECT

01.12.2020 - 30.11.2026

L’intervention renforce la gouvernance du secteur de sécurité tunisien et les capacités institutionnelles de prévention de l’extrémisme violent. Elle contribue ainsi à une meilleure protection des citoyennes et des citoyens tunisiens à travers une assistance vers une gestion de la sécurité redevable et efficace, et à travers un soutien à la définition et à la mise en œuvre de politiques publiques limitant le phénomène de l’extrémisme violent.

 


Strengthening the Anti-Corruption Committee of Armenia

01.12.2020 - 30.11.2022

In partnership with the OSCE, Switzerland supports the Armenian Government in establishing a new Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC). This specialized body will be key in investigating and combatting corruption crimes. Through capacity-building activities and policy support, the ACC will be in a position to contribute to curb corruption, strengthen the Anti-Corruption system and the rule-of-law in the context of the Government’s Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019.


Open source Health Insurance Management Information System (OpenIMIS)

01.09.2020 - 31.08.2023

Health related costs often represent a massive financial burden for poor households. Lack or inexistence of social protection mechanisms imply that ill and injured people have no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for services and care. Health insurance schemes potentially prevent households from falling into a poverty trap. SDC and BMZ have developed the only open-source software for fully managing a social health protection scheme. This tool will be further promoted and implemented in LMICs.

Object 13 – 24 of 221