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.


Current projects

Object 61 – 72 of 1082

A vocational education and training fund for disadvantaged people in Nepal

 Eine junge nepalesische Frau arbeitet an einem Sicherungskasten.

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020

The SDC established the Nepal Employment Fund together with the Government of Nepal and other partners to create training opportunities for young and disadvantaged people.  Training institutions fund the courses and the fund reimburses them if those receiving training find a job with a satisfactory income.  

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

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020

CHF 5'996'665

Participation active des citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens – PACT

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2028

La Suisse veut contribuer à la transition démocratique de la Tunisie suite à la révolution de 2011. Cette transition passe par une participation accrue des citoyens, en particulier des jeunes, dans la gestion des affaires publiques à travers la mise en place de mécanismes de participation inclusive. La Suisse entend promouvoir des initiatives citoyennes faisant la promotion d’une culture de redevabilité des acteurs politiques auprès des communautés tout en formant les nouveaux élus locaux dans le cadre de la décentralisation.

Contribution au programme santé de mediCuba-Suiza (mCS)

01.09.2025 - 31.08.2027

Après plusieurs années de soutien sporadiques, la coopération suisse propose de renouveler un soutien programme à l’association suisse mediCuba-Suiza (mCS). Cette dernière collabore avec plusieurs institutions publiques de premier plan, et favorise les échanges techniques entre professionnels de la santé en leur permettant un accès aux technologies et méthodes de traitement modernes. mCS  contribue ainsi à la couverture universelle des services de santé.

Youth-Inclusive Rural Finance (YIRF)

15.09.2024 - 14.09.2028

Millions of Tanzanian young people living in rural areas, in particular young women, are affected by vulnerable employment. Building on successful Swiss experience in youth employment, this initiative aims at increasing gainful self-employment through enhanced financial inclusion. It will support the design, market entrance and upscaling of innovative digital financial products and services tailored to rural youth, including female youth. In order to ensure scale and sustainability, a partnership with the private sector will be developed.

UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2028

Cambodia is the most youthful country in South East Asia with more than 50% of the population below 25 years. The key challenge of Cambodia is to create decent and productive employment opportunities for new entrants to the labour market. With its contribution, SDC addresses the challenge by enabling young people to have access to skills and quality education and employment whilst promoting rightful and decent working conditions.

Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Project (GBV Project)

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

Gender-based violence is prevalent in Nepal because of patriarchal values, lack of rights awareness or support services and poor implementation of laws. In the first phase, the project will directly reach 50,000 households in three districts with GBV prevention activities involving women, girls, men and boys and will provide improved medical, psychosocial and legal services for a minimum of 1’000 GBV survivors. Subsequently, the coverage will be increased.

Financement des fonds agricoles nationaux du Bénin (FinAgri)

01.12.2022 - 30.11.2030

Au Bénin, il n’existe pas de dispositif national pour le financement du secteur agricole (agriculteurs, éleveurs, artisans et entreprises agricoles). Par la présente initiative, la DDC veut soutenir l’Etat béninois et le secteur privé dans la mise en place des dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement du secteur. Le but est de renforcer la productivité, la compétitivité des productions agricoles et la résilience des systèmes de productions aux effets des variations climatiques.

Ashshash: for men and women who have escaped trafficking

01.10.2022 - 28.02.2029

20,000 people (of whom 70% women) who have experienced trafficking will be economically and socially rehabilitated. Public and private institutions will provide employment or in-kind support for entrepreneurship to men and women who have escaped trafficking. The Government will better address the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, prosecution of traffickers in the revision and enacting of policies, and create partnerships, for bringing about systemic changes.

Soutien au Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire -PRESA-

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2025

Malgré l’excédent céréalier enregistré durant ces deux dernières décennies, l’insécurité alimentaire touche près du ¼ de la population du Mali. La DDC veut renforcer les capacités institutionnelles et organisationnelles du dispositif national de sécurité alimentaire en vue d’améliorer la prévention et la gestion des crises conjoncturelles et accroître la résilience des populations vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle.

Participation des femmes dans le processus de paix, de sécurité et de relèvement au Mali

01.04.2022 - 31.03.2031

La Suisse s’engage au Mali pour une participation plus significative des femmes dans le processus de paix. Par l’intermédiaire de ONU-Femmes, les soutiens directs à des initiatives de la société civile malienne seront complétés par la réalisation du Plan d’Action National pour la mise en œuvre de la Résolution 1325 de l’ONU, concernant la participation de femmes dans les processus de paix et les garanties de sécurité. Le programme contribue ainsi à la stabilisation de la sous-région

Promoting physical activity and healthy diet through regulatory measures (ProPDR)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2023

Non-communicable diseases constitute one of the major global health challenges today. Unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are the main causes of obesity and related morbidities. The adaptation of national regulatory and legislative frameworks is critical for the prevention and control of Non-communicable diseases. This initiative strives to strengthen capacity and expertise of low- and middle income countries to implement legal and regulatory measures.

Programme d’appui à la commercialisation du bétail en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Dans la région ouest africaine, le secteur de l’élevage est une grande opportunité d’intégration économique et de création de richesses pour les populations et les pays. En complément au soutien au secteur dans les pays prioritaires, ce programme vise le renforcement de la chaine de valeur régionale des produits animaux au profit des éleveurs. L’accent est mis sur le renforcement du secteur privé et l’amélioration des politiques et pratiques régionales d’échanges en  produits animaux.

Object 61 – 72 of 1082