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 13 – 24 of 259

OHCHR - Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the oPt

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

This support to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the oPt aims to contribute to promoting and protecting human rights in the oPt and enhancing prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace with the State of Israel. 


Decentralization and Municipal Support (DEMOS III)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2025

DEMOS III will consolidate achievements of decentralised governance in the areas of policy framework and municipal performance. A grant mechanism rewarding municipalities for their good governance practices will be institutionalised with the aim to offer better quality services to citizens. The Association of Kosovo Municipalities (AKM) will strengthen its advocacy role and citizens will be engaged in the oversight. Funds will be pooled by Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the EU and the Government of Kosovo.  


Contribution to UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women 2021-2025.

01.12.2021 - 31.07.2026

The purpose of this proposal is to renew Switzerland’s support to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNTF). The UNTF is the only UN system-wide fund and global multilateral grant-making mechanism devoted to local and national efforts to end violence against women and girls (EVAW/G), including in fragile and conflict affected contexts. Promoting gender equality through combatting all forms of gender based violence is a key strategic objective of Switzerland’s International Cooperation Strategy. The UNTF has the added value of combining systemic engagement (e.g. through global advocacy and legal reform) and outreach to the most at-risk women and girls. 


PYE - Participation and Equity Platform

01.12.2021 - 30.06.2024

PYE, phase 3, aims to consolidate in a platform the efforts of 15 Cuban civil society actors, including the 6 partners part of the Gender Equity Program (PEGIN), for the promotion of laws and public policies to improve human rights in Cuba, in the areas of gender, race, poverty and social inclusion to promote legislative, social and public policy changes, with the promotion of activism and leadership of local actors.


Contribution to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund of the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Programme ADRiFi

01.12.2021 - 30.11.2025

Through a contribution to the ADRiFi programme of the African Development Bank, Switzerland intends to facilitate access to subsidies for the payment of natural disaster insurances for at least an additional 15   African countries. Payouts (up to 5 mio USD per event) from the insurance, managed by the African Risk Capacity Group, will allow governments respond timely and effectively to the needs of their population in case of disaster on the basis of the prepared effective contingency plans. 


Inclusive Urbanisation

08.11.2021 - 30.06.2024

The program contributes to inclusive urbanization in Central America in partnership with UN-Habitat with the aim to improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations in urban settlements. Solid data and evidence on informal settlements and specialised advisory will contribute to improve urban policies. Capacity building, participatory planning approaches and increased involvement of the private sector will foster comprehensive and feasible solutions for informal settlements. 


Support to the Trust Fund for a reformed Resident Coordinator System of the Unit-ed Nations

01.11.2021 - 31.03.2023

The Resident Coordinator System is an indispensable aspect of the UN Development System (UNDS) Reform. Mandated to lead and coordinate the UN engagement at global, regional and country level, the RC System relies on predictable and sustainable funding. A contribution to the RC Trust Fund supports the roll out of the UNDS Reform, reconfirms Switzerland’s position as a UNDS reform champion and provides leverage for Switzerland’s multilateral reform dialogue.


RAPID+ The Kenya Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development Plus

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2026

Pastoralist communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) have for a very long time adapted to the harsh environments to derive livelihoods (mainly livestock). Communities in the ASALs are facing multiple pressures of climate change, degraded natural resources and conflicts. This program supports the historically marginalised and under-developed pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya to access safe, reliable and affordable Water and manage their rangeland ecosystem sustainably.  


Locally-led Governance: the road to legitimate and effective delivery of services

01.11.2021 - 31.12.2022

The Somali population is facing considerable development and state building challenges, with Government institutions still very weak and fragile, particularly at the local level. With the UN Joint Programme for Local Governance and Decentralised Service Delivery (JPLG) as well as local peacebuilding initiatives, SDC contributes to enhanced state legitimacy, more equitable access to public service and well-being for all citizens, leading to more stability in the Horn of Africa.


African Risk Capacity Programmes in Zambia and Zimbabwe

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2026

This programme will contribute towards strengthening national systems for disaster preparedness through support to drought insurance premiums and capacity building. Switzerland is thus consolidating its engagement in climate change mitigation and disasters risk reduction with the aim to sustainably minimize risk to loss of lives and assets for vulnerable men and women. The Africa Risk Capacity, a specialized agency of the Africa Union, will implement this programme. 


IPDLI - Initiative Pilote de Développement Local Intégré

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2025

Mise en œuvre par l’Organisation Internationale du Travail (OIT), l’intervention contribue à l’amélioration la qualité de vie des populations de 14 communes des régions défavorisées à travers un accompagnement au processus de décentralisation dans son axe transfert des compétences du pouvoir central vers le pouvoir local. Les communes seront appuyées dans leurs rôles d’acteur développement et de fournisseur de services de base dans les secteurs de la santé et de l’éducation.


Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR)

15.10.2021 - 30.06.2023

Asset recovery remains an important priority for Switzerland, which plays a pioneering role. Strengthening the rule of law is one of 4 priority topics of the Strategy on International Cooperation 2021-2024. Demand for expertise on asset recovery remains high around the world. This contribution will support the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations that supports international efforts to recover stolen assets and to end safe havens for corrupt funds.

Object 13 – 24 of 259