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 264

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.


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.


Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

01.09.2022 - 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


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.


Empowering Youth for Sustainable Development through the Youth Advisory Board

01.05.2022 - 30.04.2025

The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) gives young people the opportunity to include the voices of youth in the Swiss Cooperation Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Interventions will better reflect and address the needs and challenges of young people, increasing their impact and relevance. At the same time, YAB members improve their critical thinking, develop ways of articulating important messages to decision makers and influencing policies. They become empowered to actively engage in the development processes in the country and shape their society.


Swiss Hosting 2022 Effective Development Cooperation Summit (GPEDC High-Level Meeting)

01.05.2022 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland will host the 2022 Effective Development Cooperation Summit, to be held in Geneva and hybrid, on the 12-14 December 2022. It is an opportunity to focus on the “how” of development cooperation, it will take stock of the implementation of the principles of effective development cooperation since 2011. The Summit will define the Partnership’s contribution to the Decade of Action to deliver on the SDGs and recovery from COVID19 pandemic. 


Potable Water Management Programme (PWMP) in Upper Egypt Phase 2

01.05.2022 - 31.12.2025

Egypt has critical needs in better managing water resources and reducing water losses as well as consumption, especially in Upper Egypt (climate change impact, lack of infrastructure, high poverty level). Switzerland provides innovative solutions for improved potable water management and service provision to the vulnerable population. The mixed approach based on strengthening capacities of the water company, improving the infrastructure for potable water provision and on engaging the communities will serve as model for nationwide replication.


Strengthening Systems of Secondary Cities

01.05.2022 - 30.04.2026

Rooted in the Swiss principle of subsidiarity the programme will enable local government authorities in secondary cities affected by migration and forced displacement to engage with key stakeholders, including the private sector, to consolidate their urban planning and management skills while securing access to financial and technical resources. It will further strengthen cities’ advocacy capacities to make their voices heard in national, regional and multilateral dialogues with a view to disseminate and learn about best practices on migrants’ integration. 


Appui à la transition au Tchad

01.05.2022 - 30.04.2024

Forte de sa crédibilité en matière de gouvernance et de promotion de l’état de droit, la Suisse s’engage au côté des partenaires du Tchad pour l’appuyer dans une transition politique pacifique et inclusive vers un nouveau cadre constitutionnel propice au développement grâce à l’établissement d’institutions représentatives, responsables et redevables par le financement d’actions concertées. Elle appuie des initiatives spécifiques à l’objectif suisse de promotion de l’équilibre entre sécurité et développement.


Empowering Municipal Councils

01.04.2022 - 31.03.2027

Municipal Councils have, according to the legislation, a very important role to play in local governance. However, councillors often lack the necessary knowledge to fulfil their responsibilities. Through the project, capacities of councillors will be enhanced, citizen participation in decision making promoted and legal framework adjusted, enabling councillors to fulfil their role and to become more independent from the executive branch.

Object 1 – 12 of 264