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 193

Supporting Anticorruption and Asset Recovery through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the UNCAC Coalition

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland has a fundamental interest in preventing corruption so that resources in partner countries flow in public services and sustainable development, and stolen assets are not deposited in Swiss financial institutions. Supporting the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) including a multilateral dialogue platform on asset return will ultimately lead to increased resources for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Peru, SEDAPAL: Emergency Water Supply in Lima

01.08.2023 - 31.12.2027

Lima with a population of over 12 million is subject to the highest seismic vulnerability in Peru. Hence, ensuring Lima’s water supply continuity in case of a major earthquake is crucial. The initiative aims at contributing to strengthened preparedness capacities of Lima’s water service provider (SEDAPAL) by improving its technical, financial and logistical capacities, knowledge exchange and inter-sectorial coordination together with key partners from government, academia, and the private sector.


Contribution to UNICEF Transition and Resilience Education Fund (TREF)

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland’s contribution to UNICEF’s Transition and Resilience Education Fund (TREF) in Lebanon ensures access to relevant quality public education for the most vulnerable children of all nationalities to avoid the scenario of a lost generation after 4 years of disrupted education. Amidst Lebanon’s economic crisis, TREF further contributes to improving the governance, efficiency, inclusiveness, and overall resilience of Lebanon public education system.


Support to Municipal Development Programme (MDP4)

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

Through its contribution to the Municipal Development Programme (MDP), Switzerland aims to improve the quality and accessibility of local services and infrastructure provided by Palestinian municipalities to their citizens in the oPt. The programme builds the capacities for stable, transparent and accountable local institutions in the West Bank and Gaza. Supported by key donors of the sector, the programme promotes and supports reforms and provides a prominent platform for sector policy dialogue with the Palestinian Ministry of Local Governance. 


Strengthening Civil Society in Myanmar – Paung Ku

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

In Myanmar, civic space has considerably shrunk since the military coup. In the absence of a legitimate government, networks of independent civil society organisations (CSOs) are essential actors for basic service provision and promotion of democratic values and human rights. Showing commitment to localisation, Switzerland will enable local CSOs to further support vulnerable communities and to protect the foundations of a pluralistic and inclusive society.  


System Strengthening Partnership Programme of the Ministry of Education Jordan and through UNESCO

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2025

In Jordan, the access to inclusive, protective quality education for vulnerable young people is impacted by natural and human-made hazards, including the protracted Syria crisis and climate change. Switzerland’s contribution to UNESCO for the System Strengthening Partnership Programme of the Ministry of Education enhances governance for evidence-based and crisis-sensitive education planning and delivery, as per Jordan’s Education Strategic Plan 2018-2025.


Central Asia Arts and Culture Programme 2.0. (CAACP 2.0.)

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

The objective of the Central Asia Arts and Culture Programme (CAACP) is to foster the further development of a vibrant and open art and culture scene that contributes to preserving freedom of expression and enhancing social cohesion in the region. The CAACP offers cultural institutions and artists opportunities to create a platform that enables people, including left-behind groups, to address issues affecting their lives and contribute to positive social change.


Moldova – Making the Most of Migration

01.06.2023 - 31.12.2026

With one third of Moldova’s population living abroad, the current country`s leadership is firmly committed to harness the development potential of migration. Previous Swiss-supported interventions resulted in a unique mobilization of Moldovan migrants committed to contribute to the development of their home communities. Switzerland will further support Moldova to ensure the sustainability of diaspora engagement models and to improve evidence-based governance through reliable demographic statistics, including migration trends.


Astha - Election Support Project

01.05.2023 - 30.06.2026

The democracy of Bangladesh will be strengthened through a fair, free, inclusive and non-violent election cycle, to which this project contributes by supporting the Bangladesh Election Commission, civil society organisations, media and marginalised communities including women and/or youth groups. The project builds on Switzerland’s democratic principles to foster good governance, at all levels, within electoral processes. 


REGLEAU - Renforcement de la gouvernance locale de l’eau et de l’assainissement

01.04.2023 - 31.07.2025

Ce projet vise à renforcer les capacités de six communes d’Haïti afin qu'elles puissent fournir des services d'eau potable et d'assainissement résilients aus risques et catastrophes à la population. En vue de la fin de la coopération bilatérale de la Suisse en Haïti, la phase II consolide et met à l'échelle les acquis de la première phase et intègre des approches du projet direct humanitaire « Réduction des Risques de Catastrophes Naturelles ».


Women’s Increased Leadership for Democracy in Georgia

01.04.2023 - 31.03.2027

To engage more women in Georgia’s political and public life, the WILD project will

(i) increase the political literacy and skills of 1’150 locally active women, their organizations and public servants;

(ii) sensitize 60 journalists, and 150 data producers and users on gender-related reporting;

(iii) contribute to development and adoption of gender-responsive laws and policies, benefitting some 38’350 public servants. The project will engage with men to foster behavioural change.


Natural Resource Governance Institute – advancing good governance in resourcerich countries

01.04.2023 - 31.12.2025

The commodities sector plays a crucial role in many developing countries, particularly in terms of domestic resource mobilisation, but also because of the manifold challenges attached to the sector such as illicit financial flows, human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Through its partnership with NRGI, Switzerland contributes to improving the governance of mineral resources in resource-rich developing countries, also in light of the ongoing global energy transition.

Object 1 – 12 of 193