Action in fragile states: sustainable support for governments and populations

Switzerland works to establish peaceful, just and inclusive societies as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is involved in the efforts of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS). Together with other development cooperation actors, it endeavours to make sure its actions are guided by an in-depth analysis of the context and to employ methods that take account of the dynamics of conflict in order to build community resilience, reduce political and social conflict and support pathways out of fragility.

The SDC adopted its own peacebuilding and statebuilding goals in 2015. These are based on the model developed thanks to the OECD’s efforts by the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS).

The goals underline the importance of supporting development partners in their pathways out of fragility. To achieve this, Switzerland makes fragility considerations an integral part of all its policies and its portfolio of operations. In particular, it strives to shape and strengthen those aspects that are linked to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16 and the OECD Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs).

Switzerland seeks to understand fragility in all its complexity and dimensions. It is developing operational and quality assurance standards that can be applied to the new strategies. When launching its new programmes in the regions concerned, the expertise of its staff in conflict-sensitive programme management (CSPM) and human-rights based approaches (HRBAs) allows it to draw on a wide range of appropriate instruments that are both context-specific and conflict-sensitive.

Together with its partners, it endeavours to deliver smarter aid in fragile contexts and to step up its efforts on prevention, consolidation and sustaining peace, while supporting the efforts and capacities of its development partners to deliver inclusive solutions to their own states of fragility.

Preventing and resolving crises

The SDC has set itself the goal of making a significant contribution to addressing the root causes of conflict, strengthening resilience to crises, improving respect for human rights and generally bringing about the peaceful resolution of social and political conflicts in the countries in which it operates.

The SDC’s work in fragile and conflicted-affected countries is guided by the 10 OECD principles, which are intended to help national reformers to build effective, legitimate and robust state institutions. Specifically, they state the following:

  • Take context as the starting point
  • Ensure all activities do no harm
  • Focus on statebuilding as the central objective
  • Prioritise prevention
  • Recognise the links between political, security and development objectives
  • Promote non-discrimination as a basis for inclusive and stable societies
  • Align with local priorities in different ways in different contexts
  • Agree on practical coordination mechanisms between international actors
  • Act fast… but stay engaged long enough to give success a chance
  • Avoid pockets of exclusion

Long-term engagement combined with a flexible approach

Increasing Switzerland’s involvement in fragile and conflict-affected states and regions calls for long-term engagement combined with a flexible approach. Building and stabilising state structures takes time, as does winning citizens’ trust. According to the World Bank, it takes at least 15 to 30 years for countries emerging from a lengthy period of conflict to establish a functioning government.

The SDC constantly adapts its development cooperation approach and instruments used to the local context and evolving situation. Its actions take the form of humanitarian aid, development cooperation, support for the activities of an international organisation or a combination of these instruments.

As a clear analysis of the situation is crucial to the success of development cooperation, the SDC works together with other members of the Federal Administration, civil society and multilateral organisations.

A mix of experience and long-term vision

In its work, the SDC can draw on several decades of experience, which it combines with forward planning. Long-term statebuilding and peacebuilding efforts can help to overcome fragility and violence. This was the case in Nepal, where Switzerland did not abandon any of its projects during the armed conflict of 1996–2006, but instead constantly adapted them, thus enabling development programmes in the areas of education, bridge and road construction, and forestry to continue throughout this period. The same goes for countries such as Haiti, Myanmar and Burundi, which have also experienced periods of tension in recent years.

Long-term engagement in complex and dynamic contexts – whether in relation to development cooperation, emergency aid or transition assistance – requires both better analysis of the situation in question and greater acceptance on the part of the various actors. Regular contact with the target groups, focusing on the needs of the poor and involving people from a wide range of social and ethnic backgrounds all help to make long-term support possible and to ensure its success.

Conflict- and risk-sensitive programming for pathways to change

The term conflict-sensitive programme management (CSPM) refers to a range of development cooperation methods used in fragile and conflict-affected countries and regions. Conflict sensitivity means being aware of the two-way interaction between the conflict and the action taken, in order to avoid any negative impacts (that could exacerbate the conflict) and instead maximise the positive impacts that serve peacebuilding goals. These methods call for a deeper analysis of the risks associated with contexts, programmes and institutions. Adopting this approach makes Switzerland’s interventions better equipped to support development pathways that offer the best prospects for the local population and to react to significant changes in the situation.

The main elements of this approach are:

  • Context analysis: The dynamics of a conflict are analysed and a strategy developed to help the country concerned resolve the conflict. At the same time, the interaction between a programme and its context must be understood and regularly monitored. 
  • Scenarios: Analysing conflict dynamics enables possible future scenarios that may contribute to changing those dynamics to be identified; in this way, the overriding objectives of Swiss development cooperation can be achieved by adapting programmes accordingly. The goal is frequently to 'stay engaged', i.e. continue working even when the situation worsens.
  • Management: Key management tasks include risk and security management, communication and putting together teams that include representatives of the various ethnic or social groups from the region concerned. 
  • Do no harm: As well as early detection of conflicts and providing support to affected countries, CSPM also requires conflict-sensitivity amongst SDC staff to ensure they do not inadvertently support factors that could aggravate an existing conflict. Above all, this means raising awareness of the 'do no harm' approach.

From fragility to peace: accompanying transition processes

The adoption in 2016 of SDG 16, the 2030 Agenda goal for promoting peaceful and inclusive societies with strong institutions, marked a turning point. Since then, the development community has directly included peace factors in its interventions.

This realisation also points to the success of the efforts made by Switzerland and the other donors within the OECD to enact the New Deal for engagement in fragile states (commonly referred to simply as the ‘New Deal’), which they had agreed in Busan in 2011. The main aims of this initiative are to support fragile states as they transition towards peace and to respond to the specific needs of their situation, specifically by adopting five peacebuilding and statebuilding goals (PSGs):

  • Legitimate and inclusive politics: Foster inclusive political settlements and conflict resolution
  • Security: Establish and strengthen people’s security
  • Justice: Address injustices and increase people’s access to justice
  • Economic foundations: Generate employment and improve livelihoods
  • Revenues and services: Manage revenue and build capacity for accountable and fair service delivery

Switzerland played an active role in the adoption of the New Deal and continues to use the PSGs as a foundation to guide its work in fragile situations.

The SDC’s engagement in fragile and conflict-affected contexts

Around half of the countries and regions in which Switzerland is actively involved qualify as fragile, i.e. they suffer from the effects of internal or external conflict, frequent natural disasters, weak or unstable state institutions and extreme poverty, and their populations are subject to violence and political arbitrariness.

Documents

Current projects

Object 13 – 24 of 1083

Improving safety for the Croatian population in mine-infested areas

A deminer removes mines in a meadow

01.06.2017 - 10.12.2024

Mines and other explosive remnants of war are a dangerous legacy from Croatia's 1991–96 war and they continue to pose a threat to the local population. Integrating mine victims economically and socially is also a challenge for Croatian society. As part of its enlargement contribution, Switzerland has provided CHF 3 million to support mine-clearance measures and improve the situation for mine victims and their families. The goal is to improve living conditions for people living in mine-infested areas.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Croatia
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Removal of land mines and explosive remnants of war
Enhanced security and safety

01.06.2017 - 10.12.2024


CHF 3'000'000



Support for international R&D cooperation in Croatia

The founder and managing director of lighting company REFLECTA presenting his lighting project with the aid of a flipchart.

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2022

Croatia ranks above average in terms of investment in new technologies compared to other EU member states but lags behind in the development of new products. Innovation is a key driver of economic development and therefore important to a country with a high unemployment rate. Switzerland is therefore contributing CHF 1 million to support Croatia's Eurostars programme. This programme promotes international R&D cooperation between Croatian SMEs and European partners.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Croatia
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2022


CHF 1'000'000



Maximum cooperation needed to manage glacier melt in Central Asia

Two men working with specialist equipment on a glacier.

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020

How to meet the needs of Central Asia’s 68 million inhabitants for water while respecting the glaciers overlooking Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan? The SDC’s project is building on voluntary regional cooperation and rigorous scientific monitoring of the changes taking place in the glaciers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central Asia
Water
Water diplomacy and security
Water sector policy
Water resources conservation

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 1'200'000



Higher Income in the South Caucasus Thanks to Competitive Agricultural Products

A man in a protective suit holding a honeycomb full of bees on the roof of a high-rise building.

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021

Livestock farming is an important source of income for a large part of the rural population in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. But many farmers live from subsistence farming and produce just enough food for their own needs. The aims of the project are to strengthen smallholder farms and to provide them with access to markets. This way, farmers can sell their honey, meat, cheese and wool products, and sustainably increase their incomes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021


CHF 5'100'000



Reform and Development of Markets, Value Chains and Producers’ Organisations

Reform and development of markets, value chains and producers’ organisations, occupied Palestinian territory

01.03.2017 - 31.08.2021

Private sector-led agriculture and agribusiness in the Palestinian occupied territory (oPT) can play a key role in building a resilient economy towards economic growth and in safeguarding rights and entitlements to natural resources and markets. This program aims at improving income and productivity in the agriculture sector, through improved access to markets, increased share of local market, enhanced competitiveness and profitability of Palestinian agribusinesses.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations

01.03.2017 - 31.08.2021


CHF 3'000'000



Access to drinking water: a challenge in Tajikistan

Three children around a fountain.

01.03.2017 - 28.02.2021

In Tajikistan, the poorest country in Central Asia, half of the 8.5 million inhabitants do not have access to drinking water. In mountainous and rural regions, the figure reaches 80%. This situation poses a serious risk to public health. The SDC's project on 'Safe drinking water and sanitation management in Tajikistan' (SWSMT) focuses on access to drinking water and sanitation in the east of the country.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Tajikistan
Governance
Water
Decentralisation
Water supply
Water sanitation
Public sector policy

01.03.2017 - 28.02.2021


CHF 5'300'000



An attractive labour market for young Kosovars

A young man working on an electrical system.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

The project « Enhancing Youth Employment » is aimed at improving job opportunities for young people in Kosovo, a population segment particularly impacted by unemployment. By connecting employers and job seekers, and by training young people in the skills in demand on the labour market, the project is helping to reduce unemployment and drive economic growth.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
Vocational training

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 7'570'000



Better public services in fourteen of Benin’s communes

A woman and a man shake hands in front of a sign with Switzerland's logo and the names of the two towns involved in building the bridge.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Efforts to decentralise public services in Benin are paying off. The SDC is focusing on two of the country’s departments. Since 2008, when the first support programme was launched, significant progress has been seen on the ground.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Benin
Governance
Decentralisation

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 8'500'000



Effective management and prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases

: A woman doctor examining a woman patient.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases are the biggest cause of death worldwide. On an international average 60% of deaths are linked to NCDs.  This rate is often much higher in low-to-middle-income countries.  This is the case in Kyrgyzstan where cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes account for 80% of deaths

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kyrgyzstan
Health
Primary health care
Health systems strengthening

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 4'810'000



Sustainably managed pastures and healthy animals: Mongolia's 'green gold'

A woman holding a blue bucket tends to a herd of yak in a vast grassland landscape.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the number of livestock in Mongolia has nearly tripled – to the detriment of the country's grasslands. The SDC is supporting an array of measures to encourage the sustainable use of pastureland, and to improve animal health and the marketing of livestock products. These efforts are helping to safeguard the livelihoods of nomadic herder families.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mongolia
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural land resources
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations
Agricultural policy

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 7'776'000



Better training to facilitate the integration of youngsters in rural areas into the labour market

Three young Nigerien men walking through a plantation.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

The SDC is committed to improving the education and vocational training system in Niger. Over 1.5 million young people living in rural areas currently have no access to education or vocational training. Their future ability to enter the labour market depends on good-quality basic education and vocational training tailored to their needs.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Niger

Dosso and Maradi

Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Education
Vocational training
Employment creation
Primary education

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 14'500'000



Safeguarding children’s rights in East Jerusalem

Safeguarding children’s rights in East Jerusalem, occupied Palestinian territory

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2020

By supporting a comprehensive child protection programme in occupied East Jerusalem, Switzerland aims to ensure that vulnerable children at risk of being in conflict with the law or directly affected by the conflict, together with their families, have access to appropriate preventive and protection programmes. The intervention, implemented by UNICEF and its partners, is in line with Switzerland's engagement for the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Governance
Conflict & fragility
Human rights
Legal and judicial development
Conflict prevention
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2020


CHF 2'250'000


Object 13 – 24 of 1083