Schwegmann: German Aid Needs More Visibility

The Bonn headquarters of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Photo by: Qualle

Aid visibility is not synonymous to aid transparency, not least in German development cooperation.

“[V]isibility, in the German Realpolitik of aid, is not about making the details of German aid more visible. It is not about aid transparency. Instead, it is about pointing out to the German taxpayers, how the investment of German tax monies successfully alleviates poverty,” OpenAid’s Claudia Schwegmann argues.

Priorities of German development cooperation include education, reduction of structural deficits, involvement of civil society and private business partners, implementation of the Paris and Accra process, and visibility and communication, Harald Klein, senior representative at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, or BMZ, said in a conference on aid effectiveness, coherence and coordination in German development aid.

“Visibility in this understanding aims to isolate the German contribution in the international development effort, to communicate this contribution more actively and thereby to legitimise aid spending. In contrast to the Swedish and the British development ministries, the BMZ does not regard transparency as a key lever of aid effectiveness,” Schwegmann writes in a blog published in OpenAid’s website.

A political advisor of one the biggest church-based aid agencies in Germany said during the conference that the right to information regarding aid spending was irrelevant, and that aid transparency was no priority, according to Schwegmann.

“So, should you look from abroad and wonder how aid and aid transparency is doing in Germany, be assured: German aid does not need transparency. It needs a well marketed visibility to make sure taxpayers and private donors understand what a good job the aid agencies are doing,” Schwegmann concludes. 

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.