History of Swiss Cooperation in Nepal

The origin of the Swiss assistance in Nepal dates back half a century to when Switzerland implemented its first project and pioneered many approaches. Swiss assistance has concentrated on the hill regions and emphasized on rural development with projects and programmes in rural infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, skills development and social services. A strong commitment and tangible results have led to a broadly accepted, positive reputation and branding for Swiss Cooperation in Nepal.

Switzerland has contributed to the formulation of the key development policies and has fostered decentralization at district and local level, focusing on democratic development and participation. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC Nepal and its partners have strong technical, institutional and social competencies in areas that are key to poverty reduction including rural infrastructure, forest and soil fertility management as well as occupational skills / vocational training.

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s programme in Nepal particularly transport infrastructure (roads, trail bridges), management of natural resources (forestry, agriculture) – have over the years established a strong foundation in the country that is directed to capacity development and policy improvement. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC Nepal is one of the few agencies that has supported technical and vocational training and education as a corner stone of human development continuously over half a century. Governance issues such as decentralization, human rights and anti-corruption, especially at the local level as well as promotion of equity and social inclusion are integral part of the programme implementation.

Over the last several years, the Swiss programme has adopted a comprehensive Conflict Sensitive Programme Management (CSPM) consisting of four complementary sets of instruments, Security management, Coordination with other donor agencies, Awareness building and support at operational level, and close monitoring of the political and human rights situation. This approach has proven to be effective during the period of increased tension, repression and open conflict at operational level also in coordinating political responses.

Strong linkages with groups of citizens, users committees and local NGO and networking with the allied community-based organizations has given Switzerland the opportunity to act in and on the conflict at the local level, easing tensions and preparing the way for dialogue and reconciliation. This presence in the field has allowed to address difficult issues linked to the effect of violence and fear on the civilian population, especially on women.

Switzerland has established sound cooperation with all major donor agencies by participating in the process that led to the formulation of Basic Operating Guidelines (BOGs).

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.

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.

The first office was opened by Swiss Association for Technical Assistance (SATA) in the '50s, and formally became an SDC Cooperation Office in the '80s. On the occassion of 50 years of development cooperation between the governments of Nepal and Switzerland in 2009, the Government of Switzerland has opened an Embassy in Nepal, in which the existing the development cooperative is integrated together with a section on peacebuilding support and a consular section.

The Embassy coordinates the activities of different projects and, when needed, bilateral humanitarian inventions.