South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan)

Switzerland's involvement in the South Caucasus is aimed at the needs and priorities of its three partner states in the region. It focuses on making economic development inclusive and sustainable, improving the efficiency of democratic institutions and human security.

Map of the South Caucasus region

The South Caucasus continues to face unresolved conflicts and tensions. While the region is of geopolitical significance due to its importance in terms of connectivity and for energy supplies to Europe, persistent tensions affect people’s safety and are an obstacle to economic and social development. Thanks to its long-standing experience in the South Caucasus, Switzerland is seen as a trustworthy partner to support these former Soviet countries in their political transition. It fosters greater cooperation between them on common interests that are not politically sensitive such as trading in agricultural products and climate change adaptation.

Inclusive and sustainable economic development

Developing the agricultural sector in the region is a priority in order to sustain an income for the rural population. In practice, this involves integrating small-scale subsistence farms in the agricultural value chains, which allows farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises to sell their products on national and regional markets. It also enables them to access financial services to take out a loan, attend professional training courses to update their knowledge and get customised support.

Agriculture and food security
Basic education and vocational skills development

Private Sector Development and financial services

Effective democratic institutions, human safety and security

Inclusive and sustainable economic development requires functioning democratic institutions, respect for human rights and a secure environment. That is why Switzerland aims to improve the efficiency of governmental institutions. It focuses in particular on building capacities at the local administrative level so that they can provide good-quality services, and at the national level in terms of better management of public finances. Switzerland also engages in conflict resolution by promoting dialogue between the parties in question. In addition, it is involved in natural disaster risk reduction along with adaptation to climate change with a focus on the sustainable development of rural and mountain regions.

Moreover, with its engagement for arts and culture, Switzerland supports the creation of opportunities for artists from the three countries to exchange and to contribute to the discussion on the future of the region.

State and Economic Reforms
Fragility and violence impede poverty reduction

Disaster risk reduction, emergency relief, reconstruction and protection

Organisation and partners

Switzerland’s involvement in the South Caucasus dates back to the relief aid it provided during the devastating earthquake in northern Armenia in 1988. In 1999, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) opened a regional cooperation office in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. While Swiss Humanitarian Aid ended its activities in 2016, Swiss efforts focusing on cooperation and peacebuilding activities in the region will continue. The 2017-2020 cooperation strategy is implemented jointly by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the FDFA's Human Security Division (HSD) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Switzerland’s key partners in the South Caucasus:

 

  • Development partners (GIZ, ADA)
  • Local and international NGOs
  • Multilateral organisations e.g. UNDP, European Investment Bank, Bretton Woods institutions
  • Civil society organisations
  • Private sector

 

 

Current projects

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Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus

01.08.2021 - 31.07.2024

In 2017, Switzerland embarked on a multi-donor project which laid a solid foundation for women’s economic empowerment in the South Caucasus, yet, further support is needed to fulfil women’s rights, which remain constrained by structural and cultural barriers. The Swiss-funded contribution will support capacity-building and provide technical assistance at institutions and policy level and, combined with activities at grassroots level, benefit at least 1’850 vulnerable women in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia


Strengthening the Anti-Corruption Committee of Armenia

01.12.2020 - 30.11.2022

In partnership with the OSCE, Switzerland supports the Armenian Government in establishing a new Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC). This specialized body will be key in investigating and combatting corruption crimes. Through capacity-building activities and policy support, the ACC will be in a position to contribute to curb corruption, strengthen the Anti-Corruption system and the rule-of-law in the context of the Government’s Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019.


Supporting Small-scale Dairy Production

01.10.2020 - 30.09.2024

This contribution aims at improving economic empowerment and resilience of women dairy producers in Abkhazia and Samegrelo. The protracted conflict in Abkhazia impedes socio-economic development, leading to high poverty and vulnerability to external shocks, as COVID-19. Women are particularly vulnerable, as they are also victims of gender-based discrimination and domestic violence. Farmer Field Schools will empower women by enhancing their technical and leadership skills.


Strengthening Livelihoods and Social Inclusion in Georgia's Forest Sector Reform

01.07.2020 - 30.06.2025

As part of a comprehensive forest sector reform, the proposed project contribution aims at diversifying livelihood opportunities of target forest dependent communities and at strengthening the local capacities in forest management in a sustainable manner. This is particularly relevant since up to 90% of Georgia’s rural households rely on forests for energy and other purposes, leading to progressive forest degradation. The COVID-19 crisis further aggravates economic hardship of the most vulnerable groups among them.


Improvement of the local self-governance system Armenia

01.07.2019 - 30.06.2023

Switzerland continues to support the national reform on territorial consolidation and decentralization which has been strongly confirmed by the new Government. On one hand, necessary framework conditions will be developed to finalize the amalgamation process. On the other hand, the municipalities will be capacitated to provide efficient and quality administrative services to their citizens and to incentivize local development. Citizen participation will be emphasized to render local authorities more accountable and local development more inclusive.


Improving farm productivity in Georgia through dual vocational education and training

Three people in a greenhouse.

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022

Agriculture is Georgia's most important sector. However, farming remains uncompetitive as farmers' skills are out of step with the job market and technological developments. Switzerland is continuing to support vocational education and training to improve productivity, farm income and the employment situation for students of agriculture.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Vocational training
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Agricultural services & market
Rural development

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022


CHF  7’303’140



Fostering Regional and Local Development in Georgia

07.12.2017 - 31.03.2022

Thanks to this project 23 municipalities in 4 regions of Georgia (over 900’000 inhabitants) are able to support citizens and local businesses in setting up economic development initiatives. This in turn will generate additional employment and attract investment to rural areas.


Strengthening the Climate Adaptation Capacities in the South Caucasus

10.11.2017 - 14.11.2023

The project will (i) facilitate the development of multi-hazard mapping and risk assessment methodology enabling 1.7 million inhabitants’ reduced exposure towards climate-induced hazards in Georgia; (ii) contribute to the safer livelihoods and infrastructure of 373’800 residents in ten municipalities by developing response and preparedness plans; and (iii) foster evidence-based policymaking and advocacy on climate adaptation, natural hazards and mountain development in the South Caucasus.


Higher Income in the South Caucasus Thanks to Competitive Agricultural Products

A man in a protective suit holding a honeycomb full of bees on the roof of a high-rise building.

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2022

Livestock farming is an important source of income for a large part of the rural population in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. But many farmers live from subsistence farming and produce just enough food for their own needs. The aims of the project are to strengthen smallholder farms and to provide them with access to markets. This way, farmers can sell their honey, meat, cheese and wool products, and sustainably increase their incomes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Employment & economic development
Agriculture & food security

SME development
Agricultural development

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2022


CHF  5’100’000



Supporting livestock traceability in the South Caucasus

The image shows a close-up of a calf with an identification tag in its right ear.

15.06.2016 - 31.12.2021

Identifying where animals have come from and recording information about their health is essential in modern agriculture to prevent the spread of diseases and stop products from diseased animals reaching the market. A system to ensure traceability will help to improve the incomes of farmers in the South Caucasus by increasing both herd productivity and the producers’ access to markets.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Agriculture & food security
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)

15.06.2016 - 31.12.2021


CHF  5’935’000



Livestock Development in the South of Armenia

Armenian Farmer with his calf

01.09.2014 - 31.12.2021

In the provinces of Syunik and Vayots Dzor in southern Armenia, the agricultural sector mostly comprises subsistence farming where farmers are barely able to support their households. This project aims to help farmers increase their milk and meat production, and thus their incomes, by supporting local veterinary services (to improve animal health), facilitating access to milk and meat markets, and promoting the sharing of know-how among farmers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Agriculture & food security

Agricultural development
Agricultural research
Agricultural services & market

01.09.2014 - 31.12.2021


CHF  11’245’756



Regional and Municipal Infrastructure Development in Georgia

10.04.2014 - 30.06.2023

The project will increase human and institutional capacities of all municipalities in Georgia (except the capital city Tbilisi). lt will enable them to perform independently the core three functions for decentralised delivery of basic infrastructure services, i. e. Project Cycle Management, Financial Management and Asset Management. Such a decentralized System will enable the Government to better respond to population needs at local level.

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