Switzerland and Bhutan cooperate in Democratic Governance Programme
The Government of Switzerland is one of Bhutan’s longstanding development partners. In 2012, its international cooperation agency SDC opened an office in Thimphu. Democratic Governance has become the central theme of bilateral cooperation in recent years.
Thimphu – Encouraged by the democratic transition, the Government of Switzerland has focused its bilateral cooperation with Bhutan since the 10th FiveYear Plan on the building of the democratic institutions.
Today the DG+ Demo- cratic Governance Programme is the main vehicle of Swiss-Bhutanese cooperation towards consolidation of democratic practices. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has committed CHF 5,550,000 mn for implementation of this governance programme in the period 2013-2016. Four components focus on efforts against corruption, enhancement of public services, media development and youth engagement.
Multi-stakeholder Programme led by GNHC
The bilateral cooperation agreement was signed in September 2013 by the Gross National Happiness Commission and SDC. Implementation is in full swing and progress of 2013-2014 was reviewed by main implementers on 6th August 2014. The programme’s objectives and targets are aligned with the 11th FYP and the national key result areas. The national execution under the leadership of the GNHC is in keeping with the Plan’s overall
strategic approach and involves partnerships between public agencies, CSOs and private sector.
The program is intended to achieve the objectives with a three-pronged approach of strengthening public institutions for citizen centered services, complemented by fostering of civil society involvement and, the strengthening of accountability mechanisms. Multi-Sector approach The four components are led by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT), the Department of Information and Media (DoIM) and the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS). Other partners include, among others, the Transparency Bhutan Group, Bhutan Post, the Journalist Association of Bhutan, the Bhutan Media Foundation, Loden Foundation, the Bhutan Olympic Committee and UNICEF.
The programme supports initiatives of Government agencies as well as of civil society organizations. Examples of the latter include the establishment of local sports associations in the districts by the Bhutan Olympic Committee or the Youth Entrepreneur and Business Leader Programme of the Loden Foundation. The cooperation with Bhutan Post in the strengthening of the G2C and Community Centers is cutting across the public sphere.
The programme provides opportunities for Bhutanese actors to tap into experiences from Switzerland as well from the Local governance initiative (LoGIN), a Southand East Asian knowledge network on governance and decentralization. So far exchange visits with peers from India and other South Asian countries as well as Mongolia have taken place.
Close cooperation with the Basle Institute on Governance, a Swiss-based anti-corruption outfit, is ongoing.
Over the years, SwissBhutanese programmes have extended over many sectors ranging from agriculture and forestry, rural infrastructure and enterprise development, to education, health and environment. Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation has played a very prominent role in the design and implementation of these programmes, often with the financial assistance from SDC. SDC manages the official development assistance (ODA) of the Government of Switzerland and is part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
In addition to the DG+ Democratic Governance Programme, SDC cooperates with the Royal Government of Bhutan and international development partners in other areas. These include, among others, Judicial Strengthening, Local Governance and Decentralization and Community Forestry.