Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

The Hindu Kush region extends across Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are connected by the Hindu Kush mountain range. The SDC concluded its activities in Pakistan at the end of 2019 . Its assistance mainly covers water use and the strengthening of state structures and human rights. In Afghanistan, Switzerland works to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights, agricultural development, sustainable resource management and basic education.

Map of the region Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

Switzerland's activities in Afghanistan

The political situation in Pakistan has improved and stabilised markedly in recent years, however it is still volatile and the security situation requires particular attention. Weak rule of law, impunity, socio-economic inequalities, flows of refugees and internally displaced persons, frequent natural disasters as well as ethnic and religious tensions heighten instability, placing significant burdens on the local population.

Switzerland promotes the rule of law and good governance, respect for human rights and the improvement of living conditions for disadvantaged communities, particularly in rural areas.

The SDC works with a number of partners, including national, regional and local authorities, international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), other donor countries, and national and international NGOs.

End of 2019: SDC bilateral activities in Pakistan to close

The SDC has been active in Pakistan since 1966. In 2008, the Federal Council decided that Pakistan was no longer a priority country for bilateral development cooperation.

However, a reduced presence was maintained in the border region with Afghanistan to help counter the fragility in that area.  The SDC therefore focused on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which were merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May 2018.

In 2016, the SDC decided to initiate a full cessation of operations in Pakistan by 2022.  Parliament decided in 2017 to reduce the international cooperation budget by CHF 150 million within the context of the 2017–19 stabilisation programme.  Because of this, activities implemented by the SDC's South Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid departments in Pakistan are to be brought to a close earlier than expected. All operations will cease at the end of 2019, followed by administrative and financial closure in mid-2020.

However, Swiss Humanitarian Aid may still take action in the event of a humanitarian crisis in Pakistan.

Responsible and efficient use of water resources

Water resources are coming under increasing pressure, jeopardising the already fragile social cohesion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  Switzerland assists Pakistan in its efforts to improve water management at a regional and local level.  The aim of these initiatives is to prevent conflicts over access to water (quality and quantity), enable more efficient use of water resources and mitigate the adverse effects of extreme hydrological events.

The SDC has the following specific objectives:

  • Improving access to drinking water
  • Establishing, developing and maintaining irrigation systems in agriculture
  • Sharing technical know-how on preventing and managing water-related disasters
  • Setting up water user associations


Establishing structures at local level and promoting human rights

Switzerland is committed to building trust between citizens and the regional authorities.  In addition to basic services for everyone, Switzerland promotes democratic, transparent and accountable local governance, enhanced protection of human rights and political reforms.

The SDC has the following specific objectives:

  • Strengthening the rule of law
  • Reinforcing capacities in the fields of justice, police and mutual legal assistance systems
  • Introducing new dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Protecting internally displaced persons and Afghan refugees

Advocacy and good governance

Current projects

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Disability: Community Based Development Muzaffargarh, Pakistan

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2020

Die CBM fokussiert auf die ärmsten und schwächsten Bevölkerungsgruppen – getreu dem Grundsatz «Niemanden zurücklassen» (Leave no one behind) im Hinblick auf die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030. Deshalb spielt die CBM seit über dreissig Jahren eine wichtige Rolle bei der Inklusion von Menschen mit Behinderungen, namentlich von sehbehinderten und blinden Menschen. Die DEZA wird über die Abteilung Institutionelle Partnerschaften, die für das Thema «Disability» zuständig ist, einen Pilotbeitrag zur Verbesserung der Lebensbedingungen von Menschen mit Behinderungen leisten.

Pakistan NDRMF Consultant Disaster Risk Financing

01.09.2018 - 31.12.2019

While Pakistan faces significant disaster risk and an increasing rate of occurrence of hazardous eventsi there is very limited understanding of instruments for Disaster Risk Financing (DRF), like insurance soveretgn risk transfer and preparedness for budget reallocations The DRF Consultant will assist the National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) in disaster risk modelltng work including the formulation of a national DRF strategy for Pakistan and DRF instruments which can support Government's efforts to better manage the risks and their significant financial implications.

Improving Water Governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (WGKP)

01.12.2017 - 31.03.2020

Water governance and water resource management are a critical development challenge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) since 18% of the KP population (corresponding to 5.4 million people) remain without access to safe drinking water. In line with the National Water Policy framework and capitalizing on SDC’s experience in the sector, the project aims at strengthening provincial water institutions to enhance water policy development and water service delivery to vulnerable communities in KP.

Educational facilities for the Internally Displaced and street children

10.12.2016 - 31.12.2019

The internally displaced youth living often as street children in the low-income neighbourhoods of the capital city Islamabad and are deprived from basic education and protection services. The Mashal school educates IDP children from all over the country with a majority from KP and FATA, offers them a protective space, advises / counsels them on cultural, social and legal issues and help them to register under the government system by that laying the basis for future livelihood possibilities.

Pakistan: ADB, National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF)

01.12.2016 - 30.11.2019

Pakistan faces significant disaster risk and lacks institutional capacity and finance to tackle it. The National Disaster Risk Management Fund will enhance resilience of vulnerable communities, especially in KP and FATA, to natural hazards and will strengthen institutional capacity of authorities to disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. This will reduce socio-economic vulnerability of the people to natural hazards and ultimately poverty.

Support to Disaster Management Authorities for the protection of population affected by the military operations in North Waziristan

01.10.2014 - 31.03.2020

Pakistani military operation against militants in North Waziristan Agency on Pakistani/Afghan border, has displaced over half a million people. Their temporary settlement in the neighbouring regions constitutes a challenge for the hosting population and authorities. SDC will enhance instituational capacity of the Disaster Management Authorities to fullfil their manadates to the protection of IDPs and and building resilience of the communities. It will enable the authorities to better handle challenges posed by conflict and recurring natural disasters.

Water for Livelihoods (W4L) – Phase II

01.01.2014 - 29.02.2020

The project promotes equitable water governance for food and people in over 300 villages in semi-arid watercatchment areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK). When organized in water user organizations, approximately 35-45% of households in the targeted districts will use water more carefully within revised frame conditions. These are jointly reformed with local governments and contribute to solving water conflicts more efficiently and peacefully.

Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF)

01.12.2013 - 31.12.2022

The MDTF aims to reduce the socio-economic marginalisation of people, with focus on women, religious minorities and internally displaced people, in the Pakistan border regions to Afghanistan; the fund will contribute to state-building in the most fragile regions of the country by strengthening capacity of the subnational governments. Consequently, the population will get increased access to basic services and livelihood opportunities.

Police Capacity Development on Election Security through the UNDP Election Support Program

01.04.2013 - 30.09.2013

On 11th May 2013, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will, for the first time in history, administer a transition from one full term democratic elected government to another. The probability of electoral violence threatens this opportunity. The police are the most important player in smooth conduct of election security. Yet, the majority of the police force has limited knowledge of electoral security protocol. With a contribution to the UNDP Election Support Program the capacity of police in election security will be enhanced.

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