Southern Africa
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Switzerland's International Cooperation 2013-2016
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Southern Africa 
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Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA)



Project synthesis

Southern Africa has a colonial history that has left government power concentrated at the centre. At present, countries in the region are undergoing decentralisation processes at various stages, pace and success. There is not much research documenting the processes and there is a lack of regional exchange on the experiences by civil society organisations (CSO) across borders. This project seeks to respond to these needs by examining the ways power is being transferred in SADC countries with the aim of exchanging ideas and experiences among civil society organisations.


Decentralisation is seen as an effective tool to achieve better governance, strengthen democracy, increase citizen's participation and improve the quality of public service delivery.
The overall goal of the Regional Research Project on Decentralisation is to achieve more intensive advocacy for, and active involvement in decentralisation efforts by the civil societies of eight SADC countries.

The project is a pilot initiative within the framework of the SDC regional strategy. While the activities of this proposal are limited in scope, the project has the potential to contribute substantially to the development of a network of civil society organisations active in the area of governance and to the policy debate on decentralisation in the region. The project will also document lessons to be learned in the areas of co-operation at regional level.

Country Partners

Partners in the selected countries (South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe) are NGOs, universities, associations, where appropriate traditional authorities and political parties, involved in decentralisation and willing to participate in a regional project. The project will be implemented with the partner organisations on a peer basis and IDASA will assume the overall project administration and co-ordination.

Activities and Expected Results

Under the co-ordination and - where required - assistance of the IDASA as peer organisation, a series of country surveys will be conducted by local CSO in the selected countries. At a regional workshop, experiences, findings and ideas emerging from the surveys are shared and, action-research projects identified to be implemented at country level over a period of ten months.


IDASA is an independent public interest organisation, founded in 1986, committed to promoting a sustainable democracy in South Africa by building democratic institutions, educating citizens and advocating social justice.

Project duration

SDC has been supporting IDASA since 1987. The eleventh phase of SDC's support will cover 2002 to 2004.


SDC has regularly provided core funding to IDASA since 1987. Parallel funding was offered by the Swiss Embassy from 1996 to 1999. SDC contribution from 1994 to 2001 amounted to about R12.4 million, with this additional contribution of 2.6 million for 2002 to 2004. IDASA's total annual budget is 40 Mio Rand.

Geographical area

IDASA works nation-wide and in Southern African countries. It has two Democracy Centres located in Pretoria and Cape Town.

Contact address

Cnr Visagie & Prinsloo Streets, Pretoria
Tel. (012) 320-3820
Fax (012) 320-2414/5

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