The German contribution: Policy dialogue, advisory services, financial support
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Strengthening Social Protection Systems in Developing Countries and Emerging Economies new window, PDF 347 KB, accessible 06/2008 | pdf | 347 KB | 12 P. | accessible
Sector Strategy on Social Protection
Strategies 190 new window, PDF 777 KB, accessible 07/2009 | pdf | 777 KB | 30 P. | accessible
- Microinsurance as a social protection instrument new window, PDF 456 KB, accessible 05/2011 | pdf | 456 KB | 16 P. | accessible