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 61 – 72 of 215

Public Services Improvement

01.05.2019 - 30.04.2023

To improve people's quality of life, municipalities have to deliver efficiently and effectively services such as safe drinking water, waste collection, cultural facilities in a socially inclusive and gender responsive manner. In rural Kyrgyzstan, their capacities still need to be improved in a sustainable way. To achieve this, the project will develop the municipalities' support system which shall then provide adequate counseling and training to those municipalities not only today but also in the long run. 


Budget Support to the health SWAp in the Kyrgyz Republic

01.05.2019 - 30.04.2022

Health sector reform is a priority of the Kyrgyz Government. Considerable improvements of the health status of the population were achieved in the last years. Yet, additional efforts have to be done to improve cost-effectiveness of the health system. The Kyrgyz Government approved its Health Strategy 2030, in view to strengthen primary health care, improve the quality of services and promote public health. The project will support the implementation of the Health Strategy by providing funding and technical assistance to the Government. 


Youth Engagement in Democratic Governance and Socio-economic Development in Africa

15.04.2019 - 30.04.2021

Africa has the youngest population globally. While this is an unparalleled opportunity for growth and innovation, it may also fuel instability and violence. Young people in Africa need more capacities to use their potential as drivers of peaceful changes. With African and COMESA, SDC seeks to contribute to current continental, regional and national efforts to create an enabling environment for youth engagement in democratic processes , in line with the CH interest of contributing to the prevention of violent extremisms and supporting economic partnerships in Africa


Waste Collection and Transportation Management in Ulaanbaatar (WCTM)

View of Ulaanbaatar city

01.04.2019 - 31.03.2023

The project aims to contribute to an effective, efficient and financially sustainable collection and transportation system for solid waste in Ulaanbaatar, based on Swiss and international practices. The intervention will contribute to improve the services, introduce a transparent tariff system and support the implementation of the new law on waste management. It targets the underserved and least developed areas of the capital (ger areas) where most poor people reside, aiming at decreasing inequalities.


Provincial and Local Governance Support Program (PLGSP)

01.04.2019 - 15.07.2023

Nepal’s new federal constitution addresses the long-standing root causes of conflict related to poverty, gender inequality and social exclusion. The Provincial and Local Governance Support Program is the government’s nationwide framework capacity building initiative to enable the newly elected provincial and local governments to assume their constitutional rights and duties. Switzerland led the planning for the development partners, The program will strengthen subnational institutions and service delivery, and contribute to peace and stability.


Support to SNDD Cambodia

01.04.2019 - 31.12.2022

SDC supports the third phase National Program for Sub-National Democratic Development (NP-SNDD) with a specific focus on the Implementation of Social Accountability Framework (ISAF) through a World Bank Trust Fund. The objective is to improve the performance of public service providers (primary schools, health centers and communes) with improved transparency, strengthened citizen engagement and government’s responsive actions


Regional Development Programme in Northern Albania

01.04.2019 - 31.03.2023

The Government of Albania is pursuing the Regional Development (RD) reform in order to reduce regional disparities, provide better socio-economic conditions for citizens and prepare the country for the EU accession agenda. Within this, the project will support the legal and institutional framework for RD .and strengthening local, regional and national capacities for strateqic investrnents in the regions.


Participation active des citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens — PACT

01.04.2019 - 31.12.2022

L'intervention améliore les conditions de vie des citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens, notamment des

jeunes et des femmes, ainsi que qualité des services publics fournis par le biais d'une participation

accrue dans la prise des décisions communales et la création d’un cadre favorable et durable de

gouvernance démocratique locale.

La valeur ajoutée Suisse réside dans les méthodes et les forums communautaires avec pouvoir de

décision sur des projets. Le projet cible la région marginalisée des Hautes Steppes.


Colombia, UNDP: UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Peacebuilding (MPTF)

01.04.2019 - 30.06.2021

Launched in 2016 within the “Colombia in Peace” framework, the first phase of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) of the United Nations for Post-Conflict for Colombia aimed to support national stabilization efforts as well as early preparation and implementation of the peace agreements. In 2019, nine donors (Norway, UK, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Chile, Korea and Switzerland) and the UN Peacebuilding Fund have agreed to support the second phase of the Fund, focusing on strengthening the stabilization of the territories and contributing to the achievement of sustainable peace results.  


Partenariats pour l’exercice d’une gouvernance appropriée (PEGA)

01.03.2019 - 31.12.2022

La région comme unité administrative décentralisée assure la cohérence et coordination des politiques publiques et initie des cadres de dialogue avec les acteurs du développement économique local. La dernière phase du PEGA couvre Sikasso, Mopti et Tombouctou. Elle permet à la Suisse de soutenir la consolidation des compétences des régions en faveur d’une bonne gestion des affaires publiques et contribue ainsi à la création de perspectives économiques durables et à la stabilité du Mali.


Coordination and society-wide dialogue on implementing the 2030 Agenda in Serbia - SDGs for all

01.03.2019 - 31.07.2022

The project is a contribution to support an innovative society-wide dialogue on the priorities of Agenda 2030, which leads to citizen-oriented and inclusive policies that contribute to sustainable development. Civil society is supported to influence development priorities through multi-stakeholder platforms, the Government is strengthened to better coordinate and finance Agenda 2030 implementation and the quality and availability of data for Agenda 2030 implementation is improved.


National Human Rights Program for Afghanistan (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission)

01.02.2019 - 31.12.2023

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has a constitutional mandate to promote and protect human rights in Afghanistan. The Commission continues the journey of building an Afghan society free of fear and discrimination. It lobbies with the government and other actors and contributes significantly to enhance human rights awareness, education, monitoring and reporting, and to empower Afghan citizens to defend their human rights. Switzerland together with other donors provides financial and when required technical support.

Object 61 – 72 of 215