Social protection

The German contribution: Policy dialogue, advisory services, financial support

Menschen in Afrika füllen bei einer Behörde Unterlagen aus. Urheberrecht: GIZ

Social protection is a cross-cutting issue of German de­vel­op­ment policy. Promotion generally takes place within wide-ranging programmes in the priority areas of sus­tain­able economic de­vel­op­ment, health, good governance and rural de­vel­op­ment.

Bilateral de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion's approach to promoting social pro­tec­tion principally involves policy dialogue, advisory services delivered by experts, train­ing for local experts and financial inputs. The impetus to es­tab­lish, develop or re­struc­ture social pro­tec­tion systems must come from the respective co­op­er­a­tion coun­try. Germany does not wish to export European social pro­tec­tion models: In order for co­op­er­a­tion coun­tries to be able to identify with the reforms in the medium and long term, Ger­man de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion takes account of past national experience, economic and social conditions, cultural values and social norms in each coun­try.

German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion therefore engages in activities at various levels: At in­ter­na­tional level the BMZ cooperates with global and regional orga­ni­sa­tions in order to promote the sharing of information and to coordinate mea­sures im­ple­ment­ed. At national level the BMZ’s most im­por­tant contacts are the govern­ments of the coun­tries it cooperates with, since it is they who bear overall re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for social pro­tec­tion and they set the relevant frame­work. Finally, at non-state level Ger­many cooperates with relevant social and pri­vate sec­tor stake­holders, for instance trade unions, trade associations, pro­fes­sion­al and charitable asso­ciations, insurance companies, non-governmental orga­ni­sa­tions, and micro-finance and research institutions.

Involving civil society

In its co­op­er­a­tion with counterpart coun­tries, Germany takes the position that it is the core task of every state to create the frame­work within which adequate social pro­tec­tion can be guaranteed for the entire popu­la­tion. Accordingly, the state should only intervene when private and individual pro­tec­tion sys­tems designed to ensure the minimum subsistence level have failed.

The task of the state is, above all, to create the enabling en­vi­ron­ment within which basic social, economic and environmental risks can be mitigated. The state should also create sufficient scope for private initiatives. Participation and direct re­spon­si­bil­i­ty on the part of civil society are im­por­tant principles when it comes to designing social protection systems.

Close cooperation with other donors

Over and above direct intergovernmental co­op­er­a­tion, Germany also supports the de­vel­op­ment of social protection systems in in­ter­na­tional forums such as the In­ter­na­tional Labour Orga­ni­za­tion (ILO), the OECD, the World Health Orga­ni­zation (WHO), the EU and the World Bank.

The German gov­ern­ment is par­tic­u­lar­ly active in its support of the Providing for Health Initiative (P4H), which was established in co­op­er­a­tion with France. Together with partner organisations such as the WHO, the ILO and the World Bank, Germany supports the coun­tries with which it co­operates in their en­dea­vours to develop the area of social protection with­in health systems and to place its funding on a sus­tain­able footing. The aim is to prevent im­pover­ish­ment in the event of ill­ness on account of having to pay for health care services and to create health services that are accessible to all.

Fields of activity

The BMZ cur­rent­ly pro­motes social protection systems in some 20 coun­tries as well as in the context of regional and global projects (as at: June 2012). The guid­ing prin­ciple is that sys­tems be developed on the basis of human rights criteria and that they should guarantee all popu­la­tion groups ac­cess to social pro­tec­tion. The main target group com­prises poor people, those at risk of pov­er­ty and vul­ner­able groups such as children and youth, women, minorities, the old, the sick and people with disabilities.

Social health protection:
Around 100 million people world­wide fall below the pov­er­ty threshold every year because they are not insured against the cost of illness. Germany promotes various social health pro­tec­tion systems in the coun­tries with which it co­oper­ates by providing advisory services and train­ing, shar­ing in­for­ma­tion, and making fund­ing avail­able for struc­tur­al health system reforms. Special at­ten­tion is paid to en­sur­ing that especially poor and dis­ad­van­taged popu­la­tion groups gain ac­cess to basic health ser­vices, for example by means of voucher systems.

Social protection in old age:
On account of the rise in life ex­pec­tan­cy the world over and a predicted tripling in the number of old people to two billion by 2050 (80 per cent of whom will be living in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and emerging eco­no­mies), de­vel­op­ing coun­tries now also need advisory services and support when it comes to establishing or reforming social pro­tec­tion in old age.

Various funding models are available: pension systems financed by con­tri­bu­tions paid by the working popu­la­tion; funded pension systems with private sector in­volve­ment; tax-funded basic pen­sion systems; and com­bi­na­tions of these mod­els. Germany supports its co­op­er­a­tion coun­tries in es­tab­lish­ing and funding ap­pro­pri­ate pension systems. The focus is not only on pro­viding fi­nan­cial sup­port. Better access to basic social services for old people is promoted in co­op­er­a­tion with the NGO HelpAge, for instance.

Basic social protection:
Basic protection programmes essentially benefit extremely poor households and par­tic­u­lar­ly vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly and people with dis­abilities. Through them they receive benefits in kind or in cash. The fi­nan­cial sup­port may be linked to cer­tain con­di­tions, for example school at­ten­dance for children or reg­u­lar visits to the doctor. These are known as con­di­tion­al basic pro­tec­tion pro­grammes. Social transfer pro­grammes of this kind have proved suc­cess­ful in combating pov­er­ty in many Latin American coun­tries in particular.

In this area, German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion takes the form of technical cooperation, for instance advisory services, training and capacity-building. Fi­nan­cial sup­port is pro­vided when a state needs to es­tab­lish or de­vel­op its social in­fra­struc­ture in order to meet the increased demand for and take-up of these services.

People with disabilities:
Modern social protection sys­tems aim to actively in­volve people with dis­abil­i­ties in society. They in­clude mea­sures to in­teg­rate people with dis­abil­i­ties into work­ing life. Family members and other care­givers also benefit from this sup­port. Ger­man de­vel­op­ment policy pro­motes the social in­teg­ra­tion of people with dis­abil­i­ties by adopting a "twin track" ap­proach. First­ly, specific measures are de­vel­op­ed and im­ple­mented for those with dis­abil­i­ties them­selves. Second­ly, Ger­man de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion aims to eliminate struc­tural social in­equalities in each of the coun­tries with which it cooperates.

Developing tailor-made models and instruments for extremely diverse risks and people’s individual situations is a very complex task. Ger­many tests various needs- and target group-based approaches to providing protection against these risks in the context of its de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. Micro­in­sur­ance is one option for pro­vid­ing social pro­tec­tion for those employed in the in­for­mal sec­tor since it covers individual risks (e.g. sick­ness, death, weather and flood damage). The in­sur­ance is funded through relative­ly small con­tri­bu­tions and is some­times ad­min­is­ter­ed by the insured persons them­selves – for example at municipal level.

Germany promotes micro­insurance through, among other things, providing financing for feasibility studies, funds for the establishment of micro­insurance companies and risk equalisation funds at close-to-market con­di­tions. Fund­ing is made avail­able on condition that the insurer can prove that the scheme is fi­nan­cial­ly viable and will not re­quire ex­ter­nal sup­port in the medium term. In addition, the micro­in­sur­ance must match demand from the popu­la­tion and demonstrably improve the living con­di­tions of those insured. A further condition is that the insurance be inclusive, i.e. that large parts of the popu­la­tion in fact have access to the products.

Systemic consulting:
Many of the coun­tries with which Germany cooperates need advice when it comes to integrating existing social protection systems to create a balanced overall structure and improving the legal and institutional conditions accordingly. Germany supports the relevant consulting for experts and organisations and thus contributes to the creation of efficient, trans­pa­rent, and socially and gender equitable structures in its co­op­er­a­tion coun­tries. Experts and managers undergo training to that end. In addition, support is provided to cross-sectoral, national policy dialogue with the relevant actors. The aim is to help overcome political resistance and to realise wide-ranging reforms.

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