Review of Switzerland's 2011–2014 strategy in Ukraine

Two people fill a bin with water from a public sillcock
In the 78 local authority areas which have benefitted from Switzerland's assistance, the access to a fixed installation with drinking water has risen to 90%. © SDC

The 2011–2014 commitment period for Swiss development cooperation in Ukraine achieved numerous successes. However, the upheaval of 2014 forced Switzerland to adapt its intervention in the field, specifically in Crimea. A review.

Swiss cooperation efforts were concentrated in the west and centre of Ukraine during the 2011 to 2014 period. This phase brought numerous successes in Switzerland's priority areas: promoting local governance, the development of public services, an improvement in reproductive health, and the sustainable management of energy and finances. Furthermore, in 2014, the Ukrainian authorities incorporated the excellent results achieved on health and decentralisation into their own reform projects.        

  • Local governance and public services

Just 22% of the rural Ukrainian population has access to a fixed installation providing them with drinking water. In the 78 local authority areas which have benefitted from Switzerland's assistance, this has risen to 90%.

In addition, five of Switzerland's Ukrainian partner regions have been able to improve their public services, in particular by setting up a system of civic engagement and budget management. Some 150 partner local authorities have adopted European good governance standards into their own practices. These include, for example, the proper management of local finances. Switzerland also provided experts to help the Ukrainian authorities to draw up a reform strategy to achieve greater decentralisation. 

  • Reproductive health

In four partner regions, Swiss support on reproductive health enabled the infant mortality rate to be reduced from 9% in 2010 to 8.3% in 2013. Switzerland's objectives included involving men more closely in their partner's pregnancy and in caring for the baby. One figure, in particular, is encouraging: between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of partners present at the birth rose from 67% to 83%. The Ukrainian authorities have noted the success of the Swiss approach in this area, and have recognised that it could be replicated in other regions of the country.   

  • Sustainable energy management

As part of projects financed by Switzerland, a number of market actors, including local authorities, public and private entities have improved the way in which they manage their energy efficiency, and succeeded in reducing their energy consumption. They have also acquired additional energy planning capabilities, and learned how to secure funding in preparation for future investment in this area. It has been possible to expand the legal arsenal to support energy efficiency, raise public awareness regarding energy efficiency, develop targeted financial products, introduce comprehensive energy management system, as well as improve capabilities of above thirty individual companies.

  • Financial and economic stability

Swiss cooperation activities between 2011 and 2014 concentrated on improving working conditions within SMEs and the agricultural sector. Switzerland also supported a variety of reforms to this end, such as legislation on insolvency. Streamlining the system of permits and licences in agriculture has resulted in total annual savings of CHF 75 million for around 11,000 SMEs. More generally, the growth environment for SMEs has become more dynamic and open than previously. Goods manufacturers are now able to expand their exports into new markets. Switzerland is providing technical support to attract international investment to promising sectors.     

2014: a year of change

The uprising on Independence Square in Kyiv in November 2013, and the Russian Federation's annexation of Crimea in March 2014, triggered the gradual spread of armed conflict in Ukraine. This new order forced Switzerland to amend its objectives for its cooperation activities during 2014. For example, it had to withdraw from Crimea, and supply emergency aid to persons displaced from or located in conflict areas. Switzerland increased its humanitarian aid budget for the region to CHF 3.1 million in 2014, placing it alongside the European Union, the United States and Canada among the ranks of major donors.