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 25 – 36 of 258

Support to Ukraine Reform Conference 2022

15.10.2021 - 30.09.2022

Switzerland will co-host the 5th Ukraine Reform Conference in Lugano (4-5 July 2022). In addition to events held outside Ukraine, Switzerland will support an inclusive and multi-stakeholder in-country preparatory process to generate broader support for reforms and to present concrete commitments at the conference itself. For this purpose, it will organize a series of activities in Ukraine including civil society, the private sector, local authorities, academia and government institutions.


Strengthening livestock sector in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Counties of Kenya

01.10.2021 - 30.04.2024

Around 60% of the population in the arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Eastern Kenya Counties live in abject poverty and are almost entirely dependent on livestock production for their livelihoods in an environment that is characterized by droughts and resource based conflicts. This programme will support these Counties to enhance livestock production by strengthening key factors such as fodder production, animal health, etc. and by strengthening the institutions to more effectively deliver relevant services and reduce conflicts. 


RESPECT - Redevabilité, sécurité et prévention de l’extrémisme violent pour les citoyennes et citoyens tunisiens

01.10.2021 - 31.08.2025

L’intervention vise à renforcer la capacité de la Commission Nationale de la Lutte contre le Terrorisme (CNLCT) dans la prévention de l’extrémisme violent (PEV) en améliorant la coordination entre les acteurs clés des secteurs de la sécurité et de la justice. L’approche choisie est holistique combinant des activités qui ont pour objectifs de renforcer la cohésion sociale en ciblant les groupes à risque. Un autre aspect de l’intervention consiste à soutenir la réforme du secteur de la sécurité afin que celui-ci soit conforme avec les standards internationaux régissant les droits humains.


Sustainable and Inclusive Balanced Regional Development

01.10.2021 - 30.09.2025

The level of development among the 8 regions in North Macedonia is highly unequal. This misbalance directly affects the wellbeing of citizens living in less developed areas. SDC supports North Macedonia by working on the country system, to improve the national legal framework for planning, monitoring and evaluation of balanced regional development (BRD) ensuring greater allocation of funds for BRD, hence improving the living conditions for all citizens, especially in the underdeveloped regions.


Supporting the operationalisation of the temporary reception center for migrants Lipa

01.10.2021 - 30.06.2022

Migrant reception centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) do not have sufficient capacities; more than a thousand migrants are without shelter. They squat in empty houses and forests, leading to tensions with the surrounding local communities. Switzerland contributes to international efforts to support the BiH government in providing decent reception capacities for 1,500 people in Una-Sana canton, where most of the migrants are stranded. This helps to improve the authorities’ capacity to manage migration and to reduce conflict potential.


UN CC:Learn – The One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership – Phase V

15.09.2021 - 31.12.2025

UN CC:Learn is the partnership of key multilateral organizations assisting member states in designing and implementing learning to address climate change. It supports countries in developing national strategies and designs and promotes learning materials to strengthen human resources and skills for climate resilient-development and global climate literacy. Switzerland’s focus therein is on further advancing the youth component and strengthening the sustainability aspects of the initiative.


Trans-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes Region

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2026

Jointly with the European Union, Switzerland supports a trans-border dialogue for peace in the Great Lakes Region, a program run by Interpeace with local NGOs. This third phase will focus on young women and young men as key drivers for peace and stability in the region and expand its activities to Uganda to further tackle the regionality of conflicts in the region. This will contribute to a better promotion of peace, good governance and concrete consensus-based solutions, in the region. 


Direct Health Facility Financing

Zuena Hussein Ismail with her baby attended by a health worker at Makole Health Centre in Dodoma.

01.09.2021 - 30.06.2026

Together with the Tanzanian Government and development partners, Switzerland’s contribution to the reformed Health Basket Fund builds on positive results achieved so far and pursues to strengthen the health system that benefits 58 million inhabitants. Switzerland’s contribution will further expand effective decentralisation through the Direct Health Facility Financing mechanism to state and non-state primary health care providers, thus accelerating Tanzania’s progress towards universal health coverage and “Leaving no One Behind”.


SRBM - Strengthening Representative Bodies in Mongolia

Workshop on Parliament Monitoring

01.08.2021 - 31.12.2023

On request of the authorities, the project ensures the implementation and oversight over new local governance laws to ensure public service delivery and sustainable rangeland management. Based on SDC supported achievements on democratic governance in Mongolia, increased technical cooperation between the Swiss and the Mongolian Parliamentary Services is at the core of the project. Gender equality and pro-poor approaches are mainstreamed.


Leave No One Behind Project

01.08.2021 - 31.07.2025

Albania is building up its social protection system, with the vision of providing decentralized services. The importance of an effective social protection system has increased by the ongoing pandemic. The project covers part of the social protection system. Its 2nd phase scales up the reform roll-out. This Albania-Switzerland-UN’ effort collaborates with 50% of municipalities and strengthens their capacities to support 160’000 vulnerable people.


Territorial Inclusive Economic Development in the Mosquitia region, department of Gracias a Dios

01.08.2021 - 30.06.2024

The Honduran Mosquitia is one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden region in the country. With the program, Switzerland promotes income for the indigenous population, improves food security and thus contributes to reducing migration and improving regional stability. In cooperation with the private sector the program generates 1000 net new jobs, seeks to increment the income of 1700 families by 5% per year (USD 360/year in 2020), and promotes an increase in public investment in the territory by at least 10% per year. 


Enhanced Skills for Sustainable and Rewarding Employment (ENSSURE) Phase II

16.07.2021 - 15.07.2025

For Nepalese women and men to gain and retain social and economic benefits from lifelong learning, the establishment of a well-functioning federalised Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system is crucial. In light of its long-standing expertise in TVET and federalism, Switzerland is well placed to support the implementation of a federalised TVET system that responds to the needs of enterprises and increases the prospect of gainful employment for all, especially youths. 

Object 25 – 36 of 258