Helvetas and our local partners support the empowerment of women, men, youth and civil societies to claim their rights, to engage in development and policy processes, and to become active and respected counterparts for governments. At the same time, we strengthen the capacities of national and local government institutions and authorities, so that they can fulfill their duties in a responsive, pro-poor and efficient manner and ensure that public decision-making processes are participatory and inclusive.
In recent years, nations worldwide have made considerable progress in good governance by establishing democratic and often decentralized systems of governance, developing government capacities, and empowering citizens to partake in policy processes. Also SDG 16 calls for inclusive societies and effective and accountable governments. Despite this positive development, access to quality public services still remains a mirage for millions of poor and marginalized women and men. Poverty is increasingly located in states where government capacity is low and state institutions are only partly accepted. Governance structures are further challenged by increased urbanization and exodus from rural areas, high youth unemployment rates, climate change and the scramble for scarce natural resources, as well as latent and armed conflicts.
In addition, in many of the contexts Helvetas works in, there are increasing limitations on the space and enabling environment for civil society to organize collective action, enter into dialogue with governments, propose policy changes, implement development initiatives and speak out on behalf of poor and disadvantaged women and men.
For many poor and disadvantaged women and men, political participation at the local level is the most important means for influencing decisions and developing their communities. Helvetas aims to improve interactions at the local level between citizens, local civil society, the private sector and the state by raising awareness of rights and responsibilities, strengthening civil society organizations to become partners and mediators, and supporting public institutions in delivering quality public services.
Democratic decentralization is a necessary and complementary process to strengthening local governance. Helvetas concentrates on decentralized public services and focus on national policy that sets the framework conditions, the allocation of service delivery responsibilities at different levels of government, and the distribution of functions, finances and human resources. Our interventions support processes that aim to improve inclusive public services and democratic oversight mechanisms, ensure the sustainable funding and management of such services, and improve legal and institutional frameworks that specify the conditions of their delivery.
Governance in its broadest definition looks at how decisions are being made, and how these decisions are being implemented. It therefore also affects all Helvetas activities. We build on existing principles of good governance and a rights-based approach to ensure all our country programs approach governance in a consistent and coherent manner.
Our multilingual advisory team offers wide-ranging thematic expertise and has in-depth experience in navigating complex processes. Helvetas’ work builds on over 60 years of experience in more than 30 countries.
Helvetas develops and guides projects. To be sustainable, they must be locally embedded. We support our partners in effectively organizing projects and processes and assist local authorities to better assume their responsibilities.