Top German global development NGOs: A primer

Flag of Germany in Berlin. Photo by: Carlo Alli / CC BY-NC-SA

Germany remains a powerhouse in the international development scene, with two of its cities in particular — sprawling, raucous Berlin and smaller, businesslike Bonn — acting as hubs for key events in this area. These seats of power in politics and business attract a wide range of advocates for social change and, from a logistical perspective, their costs of living and excellent transport links make them very attractive destinations for international nongovernmental organizations.

Berlin’s extracurricular charms are well-known — its endless nightlife makes most places look austere by comparison — but its rare energy also comes from its bustling tech scene, its group of newcomers from across the globe pitching up to make things happen.

Within that vibrant context, it is little surprise that a large organization like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance chose the city as the host for its recent pledging conference, where hundreds gathered to watch them announce a successful fundraising target of $7.5 billion. Berlin is one of Europe’s grandest stages, and it knows it: Its new year celebrations drew a million people to the Brandenburg Gate, and in May its majestic Olympic Stadium will open its doors to the final of the UEFA Champions League.

Bonn, where life proceeds at a more regal pace, has an equally strong sense of ceremony. Once the capital of reunified Germany, an honor it conceded to Berlin in 1999, it sits just by the Rhine, its warmer climate meaning that its citizens are spared the ruthlessness of Berlin’s often brutal winters.

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About the author

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    Musa Okwonga

    Musa Okwonga is a journalist, poet, broadcaster, musician, and PR consultant currently based in Berlin, Germany. He has written for several publications, including The Guardian, The New Statesman, ESPN and The New York Times, and is the author of two books on football, the first of which, A Cultured Left Foot, was nominated for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year. Find out more about his work at