As part of its current Cooperation Strategy (2017–21), Switzerland (SDC) is supporting the Cuban government with the modernisation of its socio-economic model. It has been focusing its efforts on local development since 2011.

© 2014 Natural Earth

In comparison with other Caribbean and Central American countries, Cuba performs well in terms of basic social services (healthcare, education and social security). However, the country is faced with economic problems stemming from its dual currency system and dependence on other countries for basic food products. The government has been pursuing a policy of devolution of public services, the privatisation of certain economic activities and municipalisation since 2011.

SDC supports projects in 95 of 168 Cuban municipalities in the fields of participation (support with decentralisation, development of municipal institutions’ capabilities, planning and participative management), agriculture and economic development (support for private cooperatives, enhancement of value chains, certified organic production and renewable energies) and the promotion of gender equality (social inclusion, combating discrimination due to gender, age and sexual orientation).

Municipal management

Civic engagement and decentralisation

80 municipalities have produced a municipal development strategy with support from SDC since the reform of decentralisation was launched in two pilot provinces – Mayabeque and Artemisa – in 2011–2012. This primarily involves helping local authorities to define consultation processes with local sectoral institutions and the population and then identifying small-scale local development projects funded either by local taxes (1% of municipal revenues can be used locally) or with the support of SDC.

In some municipalities up to five projects supported by Switzerland are working in tandem with the municipal authorities to improve the living conditions of the population in specific key areas, such as housing, agricultural production and renewable energies. Restrictions on financial resources and the powers of municipal authorities continue to represent major challenges which need to be clarified at governmental level.

Agriculture and economic development at municipal level

There was a 10.7% annual increase in agricultural production on average between 2010 and 2016 in the 40 or so municipalities where the SDC is operating. 3.9 million people, which represents 31% of the total population, have benefited from these activities (creation of employment, increase in income). Establishing networks between the various actors (small-scale producers, cooperatives, state enterprises) and economic mechanisms (certification, transportation, marketing) represent major challenges.

Agriculture and food security

Social inclusion and gender equality

SDC supports two platforms made up of official institutions, local NGOs and community projects working on the issues of social inclusion, the combat against all types of discrimination and the promotion of gender equality. The 15 partner institutions supported by Switzerland carry out national campaigns on these key issues, reaching both citizens (awareness-raising) and national authorities (adjustment of the legal framework).  

History of cooperation

Humanitarian support first and foremost since 1997

SDC has been present in Cuba since 1997, primarily focusing on humanitarian projects, particularly in the medical field. In 2000, SDC set up a cooperation office in Havana and developed a special cooperation programme. After an exploratory phase (2000–03), the Swiss programme focused on two priorities – local development and sustainable economic development. These priorities were maintained until 2011 when the transversal issue of gender was added. As part of the current Cooperation Strategy (2017–21), the programme is focusing on a single area of activity – local development.

Current projects

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Programa de apoyo a la Equidad y Participación local - PYE

01.06.2017 - 31.12.2021

En el contexto de la descentralización del desarrollo en curso en Cuba, la Cooperación Suiza apoya a los gobiernos locales, las comunidades y actores de la sociedad civil en la disminución de brechas de equidad. Mediante nueve organizaciones (cuatro ONG nacionales, tres proyectos comunitarios, una agencia de prensa y un centro académico) con experticia en género, medio ambiente, cultura, racialidad y vulnerabilidad, este proyecto promueve el desarrollo equitativo y la inclusión social.

PROFET – Programme for Strengthening Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) in Cuba

01.06.2017 - 31.05.2027

PROFET contributes to improve the integration of young people, especially women and disadvantaged groups, into the labour market by assessing demand in the productive sector, improving training quality in priority specialties for the economy of the country, promoting cooperation between educational institutions and the productive public and private sectors, and providing local counselling services for young people looking for jobs.

PROFET - Programme for Strengthening Technical and Vocational Education in Cuba

01.06.2017 - 31.12.2022

PROFET promotes access to employment by young people, with emphasis on women and disadvantaged groups, by modernizing educational programmes and technology under Technical and Vocational Education, in priority specialties for the development of the country (construction, agriculture and tourism), strengthening cooperation among educational institutions and the productive sector, and providing local advisory services for job placement and business undertaking.

PEGIN - Promoción de la Equidad de Género con Incidencia Nacional

01.04.2015 - 31.12.2021

Formada por seis organizaciones cubanas la plataforma PEGIN busca incidir en políticas nacionales para promover procesos políticos y sociales a favor de la igualdad de género y para evitar que las reformas actuales no crean nuevas discriminaciones. Además, el proyecto contribuye a incorporar los principios de igualdad de género en todo el programa de COSUDE (transversalización).

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