Who is responsible for foreign aid?

Development Assistance

Development aid, which is also known as development cooperation (DC), comprises all private or state services, such as money, loans or goods, to developing countries.1 Developing countries are countries in which there is a lack of basic supplies, such as access to food, health, education or drinking water. In addition, per capita income is often very low, which is associated with great poverty and high unemployment.2 Development cooperation is intended to reduce economic differences between industrialized and developing countries and to promote developments in the corresponding countries through certain aids.

The principles for development cooperation are regulated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development / OECD. This designates international processes as development cooperation if they are made available to a country which the OECD has classified as a developing country. In addition, the services must serve the further development of the respective developing country and the financial contribution must be in the form of a grant or loan.3

How did development cooperation (DC) come about?

At the international level, development cooperation became decisive after the Second World War when it came to eliminating the damage caused by the war. However, development cooperation was also used by some states for foreign policy purposes, such as ties to former colonies or strengthening economic relationships, such as access to markets.4

Fountain in Diema / Mali

What is the goal of development cooperation?

The aim of development cooperation is to improve the living conditions of people living in developing countries. To this end, three interlocking goals are pursued. First, the countries must be supplied with sufficient goods in order to increase their economic power. Second, poverty must be reduced and total income better distributed, and thirdly, a stronger focus must be placed on sustainability and the environment must be protected.5 In order to create concrete international standards, the United Nations (United Nations / UN) developed the so-called Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2000, which should be met by 2015 and set important goals in relation to international issues such as poverty, Contained peace and the environment. In 2015, these were then further developed into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The 8 MDG goals became 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which were adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 and are to be achieved by 2030. The goals include improving health, minimizing hunger and poverty, access to education and clean water, sustainability, climate protection, peace and many other areas.6 Here is a more detailed overview of the Sustainable Development Goals that are to be met by 2030:

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - No hunger
  • SDG 3 - Health and Wellbeing
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean water and sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Less inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Towns
  • SDG 12 - Sustainable Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate protection measures
  • SDG 14 - Life under water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - partnerships to achieve the goals

What forms of development cooperation are there?

There are two types of aid related to development cooperation, bilateral and multilateral aid. With bilateral aid, aid comes from just one country, whereas multilateral development aid comes from several countries or international organizations such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.7

In addition, a distinction can be made between personal, technical and financial development cooperation. Personal development aid tries to improve the general educational situation through training and further education measures for skilled workers. Technical development assistance is used to pass on technical knowledge and technologies to developing countries. Financial development aid mainly includes loans on special terms. Often these three forms of development aid overlap.

Any help, in whatever form, must be linked to specific goals, which show that the help is also effective. The main decisive factor is that the ownership of the partner countries is strengthened and that the donors coordinate their programs with the partner countries and with one another. In addition, the measures should be focused on results and both donors and partner countries should be accountable for development cooperation.8

Primary school in Diema / Mali, completed in 2019

Who are the largest donors in development cooperation?

The largest international donors in development aid in 2017 were the USA (34.73 billion US dollars), Germany (25.01 billion US dollars), the UK (11.1 billion US dollars), and Japan (11.46 billion US dollars) Billion US dollars) and France (11.30 billion US dollars). According to the DAC (Development Assistance Committee of the OECD), a total of around 147.16 billion US dollars was made available for development aid in 2017 (see also graphic below, source statista.com).9 The 2018 figures are not yet final, but the five largest donor countries remain unchanged.10

Source: Statista, Ranking of the largest development aid donor countries in 2017, https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/12294/umfrage/ranking-der-groessten-geber-von-entwicklungshilfe/ (18.11.2019)


The development funds are based on the so-called ODA (Official Development Assistance) quota. Here, the proportion of funds that are used for development work is measured against the gross national income.11 This enables the performance of the individual countries to be compared. According to the United Nations, 0.7% of the gross national income should be used for development aid.12 Germany's ODA rate was 0.61% in 2018, compared to just 0.17% in the US, Norway and Luxembourg are over 0.9%.13

Development cooperation in Germany

In Germany, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is responsible for development aid. It works with 50 developing countries. The countries with which the BMZ works depends on various criteria. In the following, the BMZ coordinates priorities, goals and strategies with the respective country. The BMZ provides loans or sends specialists to the respective countries. It also works in close cooperation with the European Union, the United Nations and the World Bank.14 The aim of the BMZ is to achieve the goals mentioned above. To do this, it works together with various non-governmental organizations when these projects are Principles of German development policy expire.15 Non-governmental organizations can apply to BMZ for project funding.

Development cooperation and the KHW

The KHW has been working since 1975 to improve the educational and health situation of children and young people in Africa, Asia and South America. The focus is on Mali, Nepal and Rwanda. By building schools and health centers in remote regions, help for self-help is to be promoted in order to help people sustainably. There is a special focus on the local value chain, e.g. school desks are made by local carpenters.

Start of construction of the primary school in Sirimou / Mali

We built the primary schools in Diéma and Sirimou in 2018 in cooperation with the BMZ. The expansion of these primary schools and the construction of the secondary school are planned for 2019, also in cooperation with the BMZ.

We are also planning future projects with the BMZ in Mali and Nepal. There is always an own contribution that must be borne by the KHW. We would therefore be very happy to receive support.

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1. BPB, Federal Agency for Civic Education, Development Assistance (10.10.2019).

2. BMZ, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, Developing country (10.10.2019).

3. DIE, German Development Institute, Development cooperation an introduction (10.10.2019).

4. DIE, German Development Institute, Development cooperation an introduction (10.10.2019).

5. Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Development policy and aid (10.10.2019).

6. German UNSECO Commission, Education and the Sustainable Development Goals (10.10.2019).

7. Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Development policy and aid (10.10.2019).

8. Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Development policy and aid (10.10.2019).

9. Statista, Ranking of the largest development aid donor countries in 2017 (18.11.2019).

10. BMZ, ODA donors in comparison (10.10.2019).

11. BMZ, What is Official Development Assistance (ODA) guide? (10.10.2019).

12. Ibid.

13. BMZ, ODA donors in comparison (10.10.2019).

14. BMZ, German development policy at a glance (10.10.2019).

15. Ibid.