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​​​​​Decentralis​ation and local governance

Based on its long experience SDC is convinced that decentralised governance structures provide conducive conditions for participatory decision making and better accessible and responsive state institutions. The space for self-determination can strengthen loyalty and integration of sub-national units into the state which might help ease tensions and overcome conflicts related to power sharing and control over public resources. Effective multilevel governance systems enhance the outreach and anchoring of national development policies.

Decentralisation includes the following three main aspects: Decentralisation of functions, the transfer of financial resources for fulfilling assigned duties and decentralisation of political authority and decision competences (aspects of administrative, fiscal and political decentralisation). According to country contexts different degrees of decentralisation can be found.

SDC does not promote a particular "model" of decentralisation nor the Swiss system, but starts from the country context and existing dynamics. Important is a coherent approach to decentralisation (functions correspond to finances and decision power). It implies a clear vision of multilevel governance systems with shared functions between different tiers according to different sub-functions. Horizontal cooperation among subnational units is also vital, for example in managing natural resources or infrastructure development.

The SDC supports partner countries in making informed choices about different forms of decentralisation. It aims at strengthening domestic capacities for designing, implementing and adjusting reforms and uses "bottom-up lessons" from its numerous local governance programmes to feed into policy dialogue. It promotes consultative reform processes ensuring the representation of diverse interest groups. You can find resource documents below.

Particularly the area of fiscal decentralisation has been high on the ddlgn learning agenda over the past years, including several e-discussions, an e-learning book and learning event. You can find information under the subtopics fiscal decentralisation and learning journeys.