Switzerland is supporting the democratic development of the new federal state in Nepal. Through the SDC, it is working to promote equitable socio-economic development and to enable men and women to exercise their rights and responsibilities within the new federal structures.

Nepal is undergoing profound demographic, economic and political transformations. It is urbanising very rapidly, with the proportion of people living in cities expected to double by 2050. In 2015, the country was hit by a series of earthquakes, causing a slowdown in its economy. Labour migration, mainly to the Gulf States, is a key factor in reducing poverty, but is vulnerable to fluctuations in the regional economy. The national poverty rate has fallen from 53% to 23% in 15 years, thanks in particular to remittances by Nepalese workers in the Gulf States.

Nepal adopted a new federal constitution in 2015, creating 753 new local governments and seven new provinces. Elections in 2017 led to the appointment of thousands of newly elected officials from a range of social and economic backgrounds. However, forging a political culture that addresses the needs of the population remains a challenge, as does the functioning of the new federal system.

Swiss contributions to development and cooperation

The Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Nepal 2018-2021 foresees total disbursements of approximately USD 130 million (equivalent to NPR. 14.7 billion) over four years. It emphasises inclusive federal state building, promotes employment and income, and contributes to the safety of Nepali migrant workers. Gender Equity and Social Inclusion, and Disaster Risk Reduction, are included in Swiss programme portfolio in a cross-cutting manner. Swiss development cooperation in Nepal focuses its interventions mainly at the state and local levels, fostering in particular the socio-economic development of women and members of disadvantaged population groups, and helping to build sustainable and inclusive institutions.

Priorities and Objectives

Overall Goal

The overall goal of the SCS 2018-21 is that "women and men benefit from equitable socio-economic development and exercise their rights and responsibilities in an inclusive federal state". This goal will be pursued through three integrated domains of intervention, where the federal state building programmes contribute to the achievement of the sectoral outcomes, and the sectoral operations promote the progressive establishment of inclusive political and social institutions.

This approach reflects long-standing Swiss reputation, competencies, and networks in Nepal, and responds to the changed context with a renewed emphasis on establishing appropriate working modalities.

The total budget allocated to the four years strategy amounts to around CHF 134m.

Domains of Interventions

The Swiss Programme is comprised of three inter-related domains of intervention. The first domain pursues the following goal: “citizens at subnational level build an inclusive and accountable federal state”.

Within the second domain Switzerland works towards “women and men, especially from disadvantaged groups, find employment and increase their income”.

A separate and the third domain for migration is a conscious political statement by Switzerland to make the economic and social implications of foreign employment visible and ensure substantial resources to address them. The domain’s objective is that “migrants and their families are better protected by democratic institutions in Nepal and benefit from decent work conditions abroad”.

Geographical concentration

A concentration in State 1 will allow for the better creation of synergies between the three domains, and for feeding knowledge and experiences from the local level into the policy and political dialogues and donor coordination at federal and state level. The shift of resources and of programmatic focus into State 1 will be done gradually over the course of the strategy period. It is expected to be a smooth transition as the majority of geographically targeted funds are already concentrated in State 1.