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 1 – 12 of 246

Nurturing Active and Responsible Citiziens

01.01.2027 - 31.12.2030

Molodova's democracy is still young and fragile. The population is disinclined to participate in decision-making, to practice democrtatic values and to demand their rights. Schools have an important role in educating active and responsive citizens, but are not well prepared for it. By improving democratic school governance and introducing practical civic education, Switzerland will support Moldova in raising civic consciousness of chlidren and adolescents, and engaging them in ther communities.


Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2029

The planned intervention aims at supporting inclusive growth that improves the living standards for the Mozambicans, in particular women and youth. It will be pursued through increased analytical capacity and better informed policy making, by means of focussed support to economic analysis and discussion in and between government and non-government institutions. Emphasis on non-government institutions will enhance the demand for and accountability for effective policy making for inclusive growth


Program contribution to OHCHR for promotion and protection of human rights in the oPt

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2029

Switzerland supports the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to contribute to the effective realization of adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law in the oPt and to influence the behaviour of the relevant duty bearers. OHCHR has an exceptional role both in the humanitarian and development spheres in the oPt’s complex context of multiple duty bearers and harsh political and humanitarian realities.


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

01.01.2024 - 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.


Supporting Civil Society Organizations in Nicaragua

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

SDC and other like-minded donors are engaged in enhancing the democratic and public policy processes in Nicaragua. A strong civil society is essential to the quality and sustainability of this effort. The proposed program will promote citizen participation, strengthen capacities of Civil Society Organizations and foster informed policy dialogue. 


Engaged People - Strong municipalities

01.11.2023 - 31.12.2030

Molodova has the most fragmented sytem of local governments in the South-East Europe. People's dissatisfaction with quality of services is high and participatory decision-making is not common. Local governance reforms launched by the Government are being pursued in a centralized manner. Switzerland will support moldova through a two-pronged approach supporting citizens (in enhancing participation and social accountability) and institutions (in improving public service provision), particularly in rural areas.  


Strengthening democratic local governance

01.01.2023 - 30.12.2026

The project aims at supporting the democratic transition and the peace efforts in Myanmar. Using a decentralized budget support approach to all townships of one state in the Southeast of the country, it will strengthen township’s participatory planning and budgeting capacity. The project will also deepen the community’s capacity to demand public services. Additionally it will support national level policy discussions based on this experience.


SYNAD - Programme d’Appui au Système National de Décentralisation

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2026

Au Burkina Faso, les institutions nationales sont encore insuffisamment capables d’assurer leurs tâches de coordination, de financement et d’appui technique à la décentralisation. La Suisse soutient les institutions chargées de mettre en œuvre cette réforme, afin d’accroître l’accès aux services de base, de réduire la pauvreté et de prévenir l’extrémisme violent. Elle reste engagée en combinant ses instruments de coopération et montre son soutien dans un contexte de crises sécuritaire et humanitaire.  


Resilient culture & art for social change

01.12.2022 - 31.12.2026

Culture and arts play a key role to promote Palestinian identities, dialogue and freedom of expression. Switzerland contributes with this proposal to a diverse, innovative and more resilient cultural sector able to foster democratic values and voice the needs and aspirations of the civil society. The programme employs art as entry point for social dialogue and builds the entrepreneurial capacities of emerging artists in partnership with Qattan Foundation and Welfare Association.  


Appui à la Fédération Nationale des Communes Tunisiennes et mise en place du Fonds Municipal de Compétence Générale

01.11.2022 - 30.06.2027

Le projet vise à appuyer le processus de décentralisation en Tunisie en renforçant le rôle de la Fédération Nationale des Communes Tunisiennes (FNCT) en tant qu’acteur de soutien aux communes et de plaidoyer politique pour la décentralisation. Dans le cadre de ce projet, la FNCT va appuyer techniquement et financièrement 17 communes pilotes dans la mise en œuvre de leurs plans de développement locaux. Il s’agit d’une contribution à un projet financé par l’Union Européenne. 


DEPAC 3 - Programme d’appui à la décentralisation et à la participation citoyenne

01.10.2022 - 31.10.2026

La Suisse promeut la décentralisation au niveau national et appuie les collectivités territoriales de quatre régions du Burkina Faso. Dans un contexte marqué par une insécurité croissante, elle renforce leur capacité à faire face aux urgences, à développer la cohésion sociale et la participation citoyenne et à offrir des services de base de qualité aux populations. Ce programme de type nexus contribue à prévenir l’extrémisme violent et à stabiliser le pays, dans l’intérêt de la Suisse.


Citizen Security

01.09.2022 - 30.06.2024

The program supports the Security Ministry and the National Police of Honduras in professionalizing institutional processes with a focus on human rights and gender as well as on community policing. In the Gulf of Fonseca and La Mosquitia, the program consolidates local coordination mechanisms for violence prevention involving justice and security sector actors, local governments and civil society. During the exit phase, the aim is to institutionalize the achieved results.

Object 1 – 12 of 246