Schwegmann: Germans Distrust Aid Business

German politicians and policymakers need to address the apparent distrust of the country’s citizens on the aid business and policies associated with development cooperation and aid management, Claudia Schwegmann writes in the Open Aid blog.

Schwegmann says Germans’ distrust of the aid industry is apparent in comments sparked by a “relatively uncontroversial article” about U.N. officials explaining the complexity and importance of humanitarian aid in the context of the Pakistan flood crisis. The article was published in the German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit.

“Die Zeit is not a tabloid. It is among the most respected newspapers in Germany and its readers have a high likelihood to be well-educated, politically interested citizens,” Schwegmann observes. “In the case of this article about humanitarian aid the degree of aggression and criticism against development cooperation and international politics is striking. Translate the content of the criticism into development policy terms and you find problems that have long been identified by researchers and donors themselves: lack of ‘policy coherence,’ lack of donor coordination, mismanagement, gender-bias in development cooperation, bad governance. However, the vehemence and the tone of the criticism should make politicians think twice.”

Schwegmann says politicians and policymakers can begin addressing the public’s concerns by improving transparency in German aid.

“Transparent information about development cooperation needs to be easy to find, easy to understand and easy to comment [on]. Transparency has been promised by the German government since the Accra High Level Forum in 2008. We are still waiting,” she says.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.