Peer reviews of DAC members

Germany (2010) DAC Peer Review - Main Findings and Recommendations


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Overall framework for development co-operation

Legal and political orientations

Renewing the strategic vision of one of the world’s largest donors

Germany has been one of the world’s largest bilateral donors for the past two decades and has played a leading role in key global issues such as linking climate change with development. The Millennium Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), poverty reduction and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness continue to form the strategic framework for Germany’s develop¬ment co-operation policy and objectives. While maintaining its commitments within this strategic framework, the federal government has in the last year promised a clearly recognisable change of course for Germany’s development co-operation. This new vision is outlined in the Coalition Agreement of October 2009, but its practical consequences, and those of other statements made since then, remain unclear. The Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ) will need to clarify what the government’s planned change of course means strategically and operationally, both for itself and its partners, and particularly how it will affect the many commitments, policies and strategies put in place since the last peer review. It will also be important for BMZ to justify internally, and to German stakeholders and Germany’s partners, why this change is felt to be necessary.

Concentrating ODA for better results

Germany has dropped the term “priority partner country” and following a recommendation in the last peer review (in 2005) it has narrowed its focus to 57 partner countries (down from 84 five years ago). This reduction has been achieved by applying tighter selection criteria and by prioritising. These 57 partner countries consequently benefit from more intensive co-operation; each has a country strategy in place which is generally aligned to the national development strategy. Germany’s evolving co-operation with “anchor countries” (emerging economies) focuses on regional strategies and global public goods. In this context, trilateral co-operation is being used to mobilise Germany’s human and financial resources together with the inputs of anchor countries. This represents an innovative approach combining foreign policy and development co-operation objectives to tackle global threats and challenges. Germany has also narrowed its sectoral focus and now concentrates on 11 priority sectors in total. In each partner country it works in only three of these sectors, at most. This move towards greater concentration of Germany’s development co-operation is encouraging, but the geographical and sectoral range of operations is still broad and does not demonstrate a clear strategic purpose. Germany’s development co-operation statements since October 2009 reduce the priority sectors to seven: good governance; education; health; protection of climate, environment and natural resources; rural development; private sector development; and sustainable economic development. However, it will take time for this prioritisation to be reflected in Germany’s development programming and aid disbursements. Moreover, to ensure an effective international division of labour, Germany should make its decisions on country and sector focus at country level in consultation with other donors.

In line with its focus on the MDGs and its G7 Gleneagles commitments, sub-Saharan Africa has been given a higher profile in BMZ’s policies and strategies since the last peer review, with a particular emphasis on 24 partner countries in that region. Germany’s development priorities in the region are mainly education and health, good governance, agriculture, protection of natural resources and water (especially reducing the impacts of climate change on water supplies and agriculture), and sustainable economic development. In the future Germany intends to focus on the private sector and to also strengthen the investment climate and economic infrastructure, including energy, so as to increase the continent’s economic potential. If Germany is to meet its financial share of the Gleneagles commitment, however, its overarching policy and resource allocation processes need to give a stronger emphasis to sub-Saharan Africa. Germany will also need to increase its attention to conflict and fragility, which are major obstacles to achieving the MDGs in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

A new strategy for multilateral organisations

Germany has long maintained a policy of allocating not more than one-third of its ODA to multilateral channels (including the EU). This limit is not evidence based, nor is it linked to the relative effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral aid. BMZ is currently developing a new strategy for multilateral organisations, which is an opportunity for Germany to confirm its rationale for channelling funds through these entities and to set out its priorities for reform of the multilateral system and its criteria for multilateral funding. The new strategy should also provide a clear analysis of how its development objectives could be advanced through multilateral funding.

Stronger leadership needed on gender equality and women’s empowerment

Germany is continuing to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in its policy dialogue and programming. However, while the larger German implementing agencies are addressing gender mainstreaming and have targeted actions to empower women through their programmes, there is insufficient leadership of the issue across the development co-operation system as a whole. BMZ’s strategy and guidelines on gender equality need to be more firmly embedded in all of the agencies responsible for implementing Germany’s ODA, particularly other ministries. Moreover, BMZ’s capacity to lead on gender equality is constrained by the small number of staff devoted to this activity in headquarters and in the field. Therefore BMZ should build gender equality capacity in headquarters and in the field to provide more effective leadership on this issue across the entire German development co-operation system.

Promoting policy coherence for development

Embedding policy coherence throughout government

With its representation at Cabinet level, BMZ is well placed to ensure that development is taken into account in all areas of Germany’s domestic and international policies. The government is highly committed to ensuring that all policies support, or at least do not undermine, partner countries’ development aspirations. More recently, the Coalition Agreement signed in October 2009 reiterates this commitment to development coherence. However, policy coherence also depends on embedding the concept within the various government departments and setting clear priorities for its implementation. There is considerable scope for the German government to deepen its commitment to the MDGs by making international development a more tangible goal of other government policy areas.

Tackling policy co-ordination constraints

Despite the dedication and skills of its staff at HQ and in the field, BMZ's lack of capacity to cover the range of issues it needs to address leaves it little room to play the full influential and proactive role in decision making and policy coordination that might be expected from such a key player. In particular, BMZ’s analytical and strategy development capacity needs attention and this should be complemented by increased efforts to engage with other ministries on development issues. At the same time, awareness of and expertise in development issues should be strengthened in other German ministries.

Strengthening systems for monitoring, analysing and reporting on policy coherence

Germany has made only modest progress in monitoring, analysing and reporting on policy coherence since the last peer review. It should take into account the lessons identified in the OECD’s Building Blocks for Policy Coherence for Development when strengthening its systems in this domain, including reporting transparently to the German Parliament (the Bundestag) and the wider public about progress in this area to produce the accountability needed to drive further progress.

Improving whole-of-government approaches

Germany has made good progress in development areas that are high on the political agenda and which have been supported by the Chancellery, in particular, climate change and whole-of-government engagement in Afghanistan. Germany can learn from these experiences to enhance BMZ capacity to improve and apply coherent whole-of-government approaches to tackle other global challenges. For example, thinking has evolved since Germany produced its 2004 action plan on Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Peace-Building. Germany needs a new joined-up approach for fragile and conflict-affected states which takes into account the changes in donor thinking and practice in these areas. It could also build on planned inter-ministerial regional strategies (which will focus on coherent policies in particular regions or countries) by developing joint country strategies for selected countries, particularly fragile states where a whole-of-government approach is critical.


The DAC welcomes Germany’s leadership on global development issues such as climate change, and its efforts to fulfil its international commitments for greater policy coherence for development. Building on this, Germany should:

  • publish a clearly-defined overarching policy for development co-operation that drives forward progress on the MDGs and poverty reduction, paying particular attention to conflict and fragility and to sub-Saharan Africa, and that further concentrates Germany’s aid;
  • base its draft strategy for multilateral aid on a clear analysis of how its development objectives could be advanced through multilateral funding, while also taking into account Germany’s specific objectives for influencing and reforming multilateral institutions, resource allocation and collaboration with other partners to make multilateral aid more effective;
  • establish an overarching policy statement on policy coherence for development and a clearly prioritised coherence agenda which sets strategic cross-governmental goals and provides a clear plan for implementation; and
  • determine where responsibility for coordinating whole of government approaches sits within government, ensuring that sufficient capacity for analysis and strategy development resides in the responsible entity, as well as instil a sound development perspective within relevant ministries’ policies.

Aid volume, channels and allocation

Germany needs to get back on track to meet its aid volume commitments

In 2009 Germany was the third largest bilateral donor in the world, behind the United States and France and just ahead of the United Kingdom and Japan. Germany provided USD 12 billion of ODA in 2009, or 10% of DAC member countries’ total ODA. While Germany has maintained its position as a leading contributor of ODA, progress towards its European Union commitments to increase its aid as a proportion of gross national income (GNI) has stalled. Its targets were for its ODA to be 0.51% of GNI by 2010 and 0.7% by 2015. However, in 2009 ODA was only 0.35% of GNI, putting Germany a long way off target in its first aid volume commitment. Despite this setback, and the daunting global economic outlook, Germany remains committed to achieving 0.7% of GNI by 2015. The development co-operation budget is based on the annual federal budget and a rolling financial plan covering a five-year period (the current, next and following three years). Achieving the aid volume target for 2015 is a massive challenge, one that has to be addressed immediately: the financial plan for the period 2011-2015 and the 2012 budget itself must make the necessary provisions and both of these will be prepared during the first six months of 2011. 

Among the expanding areas of its development co-operation, Germany needs to ensure that its increasing emphasis on private sector development does not lead it to divert ODA to finance assistance that is oriented to its own commercial interest. This implies that modalities need to be developed to ensure that projects are not selected on the basis of German commercial interests rather than expected developmental benefits. Where loans are used for development co-operation, Germany needs to ensure that these meet all the ODA criteria – i.e. that they are developmental, concessional, and meet the minimum 25% grant element (calculated against a 10% discount rate) – and to assess the extent to which future repayments on ODA loans may impact on targets for net ODA volume.

BMZ continues to be responsible for a little more than half of Germany’s ODA – the remainder is allocated to a range of other government departments, agencies and institutions and this makes it hard for Germany to maintain a coherent development co-operation policy. There is a need to strengthen and improve the co-ordination of Germany’s ODA at headquarters and in the field and to ensure that priority focal area strategies, guidelines and country strategies guide the work of all government departments, agencies and institutions involved and that these bodies feel a sense of ownership of these strategies.

Increasing the focus on partner countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa

As mentioned above, some attempt has been made to focus Germany’s development co-operation on fewer countries. The reduction of partner countries from 84 to 57 since the last peer review is welcome, but these partner countries received less than 40% of Germany’s bilateral ODA in 2008, while the remaining 60% was distributed across 83 non-partner countries. Furthermore, in 2008 six of the top 20 recipients of German ODA were not partner countries. There is considerable scope, therefore, to maximise Germany’s development impact by increasing the proportion of Germany’s bilateral ODA spent on its 57 partner countries, particularly those that are furthest from achieving the MDGs, namely: sub-Saharan African countries, least developed countries and countries affected by conflict and fragility.

Africa remains the highest recipient region, receiving 35% of Germany’s bilateral ODA in 2008. During the 2005 G7 summit at Gleneagles, Germany promised to double its aid for sub-Saharan Africa by 2010 (over 2004 levels). Like some other G7 countries, Germany is lagging behind its Gleneagles promises. As an EU member, Germany also committed in 2005 to allocating half of its ODA increases to sub-Saharan Africa through to 2010. While Germany’s bilateral ODA to this region did increase significantly (from USD 1.4 billion in 2004 to USD 2.7 billion in 2008), this is much less than 50% of the increase in Germany’s bilateral ODA over this period. Moreover, aid to sub-Saharan Africa as a share of Germany’s gross bilateral ODA has increased only slightly, from 27% in 2004 to 29% in 2008. Germany has renewed its promise that 50% of all new bilateral ODA allocations will be for sub-Saharan Africa in 2009 and 2010 and informed the Committee that the necessary firm commitments have been made. However, the recent survey of DAC members’ aid commitments indicates that Germany’s bilateral ODA will continue to go mainly to middle income countries. Meeting the Gleneagles commitments is surely important in tackling poverty in a key region in the world and in underpinning Germany's credibility as a leader among major donors in the international system.

Replacing debt relief with other forms of aid

Debt relief has been a major component of Germany’s development co-operation for several years. The stock of debt is now becoming exhausted and must be replaced with other forms of multilateral and bilateral aid if aid volumes are to increase or at least be maintained. The exhaustion of debt relief is the main reason why ODA levels fell in 2009. Germany should therefore plan to replace debt relief with alternative aid allocations and channels.

Developing a more strategic approach to working with non-government organisations

Germany channels 6% of its ODA through non-government organisations (NGOs).  In working with NGOs, Germany gives high priority to NGOs’ independence. However, Germany needs a clear strategy to guide this work applying both to German and Southern civil society organisations. Most NGOs enjoy considerable freedom in how they use the ODA they receive but there are insufficient accountability linkages between them and the responsible German development co-operation institutions. Germany needs to strike a balance between respecting NGOs’ autonomy whilst encouraging them to demonstrate development results and also to align with partner country priorities. Germany’s consultation with NGOs on its development co-operation policies and strategies needs to be more meaningful. One approach would be to begin consultations earlier in the policy-development process. Germany should therefore develop a strategic approach to its relationships with NGOs. This should include a range of mechanisms for channelling funds through NGOs, such as framework agreements at headquarters and at partner country levels. This kind of approach is necessary to ensure a sustained focus on results.


To achieve its commitments and maintain its credibility, Germany should:

  • (i) as part of the 2012 budget proposal, set new realistic annual ODA volume targets that form a credible pathway for achieving the 0.7% ODA/GNI target by 2015; (ii) work to build cross party support for achieving the new targets and growth path and publicise them widely; (iii) replace debt relief with other types of development co-operation as the stock of debt becomes exhausted;
  • further concentrate its bilateral ODA on partner countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa and countries affected by conflict and fragility;
  • develop its private sector programme to encourage foreign and domestic investments in areas aligned to partner countries’ development strategies, ensuring that this does not lead it to divert ODA to finance assistance that is oriented to its own commercial interests;
  • develop a strategic framework for engagement with NGOs which clarifies its rationale for channelling funds through these organisations, defines its relationship with them, strengthens partnerships and ensures a focus on development results.

Organisation and management

Reducing fragmentation

While the German development co operation system remains largely as it was in 2005, Germany has embarked on a major institutional reform process to merge three technical co-operation agencies, strengthen BMZ and improve ministerial co-ordination.

BMZ is responsible for development co-operation policy and strategy, while implementation is done by a wide range of agencies, other government departments, federal states, NGOs, political foundations, churches and scientific and training institutions. Germany’s development co-operation system has some institutional strength: it has a dedicated ministry (BMZ) which is represented at cabinet level, it has experienced implementing organisations, it has flexibility in how implementation occurs (once contracts have been signed between BMZ and the implementing agencies) and it has sound technical expertise. But it is the many weaknesses, particularly the institutional fragmentation, that have received the attention of the last two peer reviews (2001 and 2005) and which still persist in 2010. Germany’s fragmented institutional system means that (i) it is confusing to its partners; (ii) it is time consuming for BMZ to co-ordinate Germany’s various agencies (perhaps more so than co-ordinating other donors and partner governments); (iii) it runs the risk of being supply-driven and of limited contestability; and (iv) it is weighted far too heavily towards the implementing agencies at the expense of BMZ capacity, undermining the latter’s ability to oversee the system.

The institutional separation of technical and financial co-operation and the prevailing technical co-operation model which is mainly aid in kind also limits Germany’s ability to implement the aid effectiveness principles. For example, the aid-in-kind technical co-operation model used typically by GTZ hampers Germany’s harmonisation with other development partners and constrains its use of partner country systems. Germany should therefore focus its planned long-term institutional reforms on resolving these constraints, particularly those arising from its fragmented system. The planned merger of the three technical co-operation agencies (GTZ, DED and InWent) will be a good first step in this wider reform and should be given a high priority. The reforms should also: (i) strengthen significantly BMZ’s capacity to oversee the development and implementation of its own policies; (ii) strengthen BMZ’s leadership capacity to implement the development policy across the German government; and (iii) lead to innovation and adaptation of the technical co-operation models and strengthen the links between technical and financial co-operation.

Increasing the pace of decentralisation

As recommended in the last peer review, there is still a need to decentralise responsibilities to the field. In the Coalition Agreement of October 2009 the government promised to improve the field structure of Germany’s development co-operation system. As part of these improvements, BMZ’s in-country representatives must be empowered to make more decisions locally and to have far greater delegated authority for policy and strategy. Further decentralisation of decision-making responsibilities, accompanied by adequate resources, would improve the strategic oversight of Germany’s ODA and could help to address some partners’ concerns about delays in processing decisions and approvals. This is particularly relevant for countries like Zambia, where Germany is taking a lead role in high-level policy dialogue on poverty reduction budget support and joint assistance strategies. A new understanding on working relationships will also need to be developed between BMZ and the Federal Foreign Office.

BMZ now has Heads of Co-operation posted in 38 of its 57 partner countries; they are vitally important for effective co-ordination and oversight of Germany’s development programmes. Other important steps that are improving the coherence of Germany’s bilateral development co-operation include the establishment of a Development Co-operation Country Office (joint country office for all German implementing agencies) in each partner country; joint programming (which brings together all Germany’s implementing agencies); and appointing focal area co-ordinators in the field (drawn from the implementing agencies) to take the lead in designing joint programme proposals for approval by BMZ. BMZ should strengthen and develop the role of the focal area co-ordinators in partner countries by (i) amending their job description to include enough time to carry out this work; (ii) making them more accountable to the Head of Co-operation in the German Embassy; and (iii) formalising the role with BMZ and the various other German and partner country actors.

Continuing to improve the evaluation system

 BMZ is responsible for development co-operation evaluation rules and standards, quality assurance and strategic evaluations, while the implementing agencies and larger NGOs carry out self and independent evaluations. BMZ is improving Germany’s development co-operation evaluation system: the various evaluation systems are being standardised and guided by a policy framework, standards and specific approaches. However, BMZ’s latest evaluation system review shows that its evaluation unit is under-resourced. It faces a major challenge in co-ordinating evaluations across 20 governmental and non-governmental implementing and funding organisations, each of which operates its own evaluation system. Together these organisations produce almost 100 evaluations a year, which is a significant number for the BMZ evaluation unit to quality assure and the development co-operation system to absorb effectively. Further improvements to evaluation and results reporting are therefore necessary, particularly in the quality assurance of evaluations and the use of evaluations to support decision making and to link Germany’s country programming and resources to results and to partner countries’ performance assessment frameworks. An independent evaluation agency or institute is planned by the government. This important development is designed to improve the visible independence and legitimacy of evaluations; it can also play a key role in improving coherence across the system provided that the new institute plays a strong leadership function as it develops, and is appropriately resourced and set up to do so. Given that independent evaluation agencies are developing in other countries, Germany could also help to promote international partnership in this area.


To strengthen its development co-operation system Germany should:

  • ensure the merger of the three technical co-operation agencies is implemented on schedule and is seen as a first step in a holistic reform of Germany’s development co-operation system;
  • implement the planned wider reforms of Germany’s development co-operation system - the main aim should be to strengthen significantly BMZ’s capacity to oversee the development and implementation of its own policies and to lead development co-operation policy effectively across the German government;
  • decentralise operations, as recommended in the last peer review, including developing a new understanding between BMZ and the Federal Foreign Office on their relationships in the field and strengthening and developing the role of focal area co-ordinators in partner countries; and
  • ensure that (i) adequate resources are allocated for improving evaluation and results reporting, including for the planned independent evaluation agency or institute; and (ii) BMZ’s country programming and resources are better linked to development results and aligned with effective partner country performance assessment frameworks.

Practices for better impact

Implementing aid effectively

Making more effort to meet 2010 aid effectiveness targets

Germany is addressing aid effectiveness at three levels: (i) internationally and within the European Union; (ii) nationally; and (iii) within partner countries. It is having varying degrees of success. At the international level, Germany plays a leading role within the EU and the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness in promoting an effective division of labour. Following the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Korea in 2011, Germany should sustain its engagement in long-term and inclusive international dialogue on aid effectiveness and consider how it might more effectively support the broader implementation of aid effectiveness commitments. At the national and partner country levels, in 2005 BMZ put in place a Plan of Operations for implementing the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (it was the first donor to do so). It followed this up with an aid effectiveness manual for the German aid system in 2006, staff training for BMZ and the implementing agencies and an updated plan in 2009.

Germany participated in both the 2006 and 2008 Monitoring Surveys of the Paris Declaration, which revealed that it is improving its performance against all of the key Paris Declaration indicators. However, it is still weak in its use of country public financial management systems, common arrangements or procedures and joint missions. Germany is unlikely to achieve the 2010 targets it has set for these areas. While the 2009 Plan of Operations is designed to strengthen the country’s performance, particularly by making more systematic use of partner country systems and procedures, there is clearly a need for Germany to move faster with implementing this agenda. Meeting the 2010 targets will require considerable managerial effort, particularly by the aid effectiveness focal points in BMZ and the staff of the implementing agencies responsible for monitoring progress.

Untying more of Germany’s bilateral ODA

 In 2008 the DAC average untying ratio for bilateral aid was 81%, and 61% for technical co-operation. In 2008 Germany reported that 77% of its bilateral ODA was untied; the remainder was reported as tied. In that same year, 41% of German technical co-operation was reported as untied.  Germany is thus below the DAC average for untied aid, especially in respect of technical co-operation. To meet its commitments under the Accra Agenda for Action, Germany has set out a credible plan and timetable to untie more aid. Almost all Germany’s financial and food aid is entirely untied and BMZ’s focus is now on further untying technical co-operation and humanitarian aid (the latter is currently 77% tied). Germany’s plan for further untying of its aid should therefore focus on delivering increased levels of untied technical co-operation in particular.

Learning from priority topics

Capacity development

Capacity development has been an overall goal of Germany’s development co-operation for many years. Technical co-operation has traditionally been Germany’s principal means of developing capacity in its partner countries, but over time the focus has shifted from building the technical skills of individuals and strengthening local organisations to improving legislative, economic, social, ecological and political contexts. Surprisingly, given the importance of the issue, Germany does not yet have a common definition of capacity development or a clear strategy for this aspect of its development co-operation. BMZ should define its conceptual understanding of capacity development, building on its sectoral experience, and develop a strategy for how all of Germany’s aid instruments and agencies can combine to develop the capacity of partner countries. This should clarify how technical co-operation can be linked and combined more effectively with other aid modalities and instruments (e.g. programme-based approaches, budget support and sector-wide approaches). Germany will also need to develop practical guidance on how capacity development principles and technical co-operation can contribute better to state building in situations of conflict and fragility.

Germany should take advantage of its planned merger of the three technical co-operation agencies to rethink the role of this instrument in partner country-led capacity development. Reforms should allow the partner country greater involvement in selecting and evaluating technical assistance personnel. These reforms should also ensure that technical co-operation implementing agencies prioritise capacity development objectives over other contractual delivery obligations, and that they have appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in place. Germany should also ensure that its technical co-operation does no harm to the local labour market and local capacity.

 Germany is improving its co-ordination of technical co-operation activities with other donors. In 2007 a total of 73% of German technical co-operation funding was aligned with partner strategies and co-ordinated with other donors. There are also a number of instances where German technical co-operation forms part of harmonised arrangements, including technical assistance pools. BMZ and GTZ are currently preparing guidance on technical assistance pools, which is an encouraging development. The emphasis here should be on building the capacity of partner countries to: (i) identify for themselves capacity development needs and the areas where technical assistance is needed; and (ii) manage the selection, contracting, deployment and use of technical services.

Environment and climate change

Germany is commended for its strong inter-ministerial and international leadership on environment and climate change issues. Germany has been strongly committed to the environment and climate change agenda for the past two decades. In recent years climate protection has become of greater significance in Germany’s development co-operation, with its climate-related expenditure increasing by 40% between 2008 and 2009. This agenda is being driven by the highest levels of government. Germany’s comprehensive national environment and climate change legal and strategic framework also covers the importance of addressing climate change in developing countries. Germany should continue to provide international leadership on climate change and development approaches. It should also fulfil its international commitments, particularly to “fast start” financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation and for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

The partnership between BMZ and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is a good example of policy coherence for development and a major feature of Germany’s development co-operation in the field of climate change. The centre-piece of this partnership is a new funding instrument that uses the proceeds from the sale of CO2 emissions trading allowances to fund BMU's International Climate Initiative (ICI). This unique financing mechanism is a potential model for innovative financing proposals in the global climate negotiation process. BMZ and BMU should consider how their environment and climate change programmes could be made more comprehensive and innovative; for example, by improving criteria for national sustainable development benefits and indigenous rights in REDD activities. Germany should also broaden its environment and climate change programmes to include environmental capacity development, the mainstreaming of environment into national planning and budgeting and promoting green growth.

Germany has a strong track record, stretching back more than two decades, of mainstreaming environment within its programmes. Since mid-2009, climate change issues have been mainstreamed into German development co-operation by applying a “Climate Check” to all new projects and programmes. Germany’s work in this area is being guided by a Programme of Action on Climate and Development. Currently, BMZ is in the process of merging its Climate Check instrument with the requirement for environmental impact assessment (EIA, required since 1988) and also including elements of strategic environmental assessment (SEA). The resulting new “Joint Environment and Climate Assessment” will address both the strategic level (all focal area strategy papers and sectoral strategies/joint donor strategies) as well as the programme and project level (for all interventions). Germany is generally following DAC advice in this process. A systematic and strategic approach is required to integrating climate change considerations, especially adaptation, into programme and monitoring efforts. Lessons from Germany’s experience with environment mainstreaming may be helpful in taking this forward, along with the development of new tools and approaches based on existing good practice.


To increase further the effectiveness and impact of its aid programme, Germany should:

  • build on the progress made in implementing the aid effectiveness Plan of Operations by making greater use of partner country systems and adapting aid instruments to partner country-led programme-based approaches;
  • untie more technical co-operation, tailor it better to recipient countries’ needs and align it more to country systems;
  • develop a strategy for how all of Germany’s aid instruments (beyond technical co-operation) and agencies can develop capacity in partner countries, and how Germany will contribute to state building processes in fragile contexts; and
  • continue to provide international leadership on climate change approaches and fulfil international commitments, particularly to “fast start” financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation and for REDD+.

Humanitarian action

Creating an overarching German humanitarian policy

Germany does not yet have an overarching policy to guide its humanitarian programming across ministries. Instead it relies on a comprehensive set of policies and guidelines, each focused on a different thematic area. Developing a macro policy, built on the comparative advantage of its funding instruments, would divide labour more effectively and promote linkages between immediate relief and longer-term recovery programming.  It could also help to develop a more comprehensive monitoring and accountability system for partner programmes.

Expanding humanitarian funding

Germany’s performance against the DAC’s Assessment Framework for Humanitarian Action continues to be largely positive and it has increased the proportion of its humanitarian funding from 2% of ODA (2004) to 3.3% (2008). However, this share is significantly lower than the DAC donor average of 9.2% in 2008 and Germany gives much less humanitarian funding as a share of its ODA than most other DAC members. Given Germany’s status as one of the largest donors, and also given the world’s humanitarian needs, Germany should further increase its humanitarian funding.

Clarifying the division of labour, strengthening thematic linkages and enhancing impact

Humanitarian assistance is delivered through two ministries: the Federal Foreign Office provides emergency assistance while BMZ funds protracted crises and ongoing disaster recovery. The Humanitarian Aid Coordinating Committee is the co-ordinating body for BMZ, the Federal Foreign Office and other national humanitarian actors. It meets regularly and can also be assembled rapidly following a sudden crisis or disaster. However, more needs to be done to clarify the division of labour between the ministries, and to strengthen thematic linkages among Federal Foreign Office officials working on humanitarian assistance and relevant development specialists within BMZ. A pertinent example is disaster risk reduction (DRR) programming, which is funded by both ministries and lacks a coherent overview structure or formal linkages between the Federal Foreign Office and BMZ’s DRR specialists, thus undermining learning and programme strengthening despite DRR being one of Germany’s major focus areas. The split of instruments between the ministries increases transaction costs for partners substantially, especially during protracted crises. It forces partners to submit separate proposals and reports using different formats and guidelines for various parts of the same project. 

While the rapid funding provided by the Federal Foreign Office is beyond reproach, its short term projects do hinder the application of other Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, especially operational flexibility and support to longer-term recovery. 

Closer co-ordination on both strategic and operational issues is required and Germany should work to establish formal co-ordination mechanisms. Stronger co-ordination will also strengthen linkages between immediate relief operations and longer-term recovery programming. The DAC welcomes the three-phase inter-ministerial evaluation of Germany’s humanitarian assistance, which intends to enhance Germany’s humanitarian impact in the field. A stronger emphasis on independent monitoring and reporting on humanitarian programmes and projects would also enhance learning and accountability.



Germany could further enhance the impact of its humanitarian programming by:

  • designing an overarching humanitarian policy built on the comparative advantage of Germany’s different instruments; strengthening linkages between relief and development programming; and continuing to increase humanitarian funding; and
  • strengthening co-ordination of policy setting and strategic orientation issues and clarifying the division of labour between BMZ and the Federal Foreign Office; allowing partners to seek funding under a uniform proposal and reporting system; and strengthening thematic linkages between German humanitarian actors in government and civil society.