Seconding, Placing and Assigning Experts

Project development at CARE International: working on a funding proposal dealing with the root causes of displacement in Northern Mali and Niger

The de­vel­op­ment policy of the German government is geared to the principle of subsidiarity. Expatriate experts are only assigned to de­vel­op­ment projects if the experts required for a project are not available in the par­tner country. The personnel costs are assumed by the German side only if they cannot be paid in full or in part by the partner organisations. In order to strengthen the responsibility of the partner country, as many local specialists as possible are assigned to projects and programmes. Nevertheless, in future too expatriate experts will continue to be called on to undertake important tasks in developing countries.

The experts working within the framework of German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion in partner countries belong to the following groups:

Seconded experts

Seconded experts are staff members of German implementing organisations or of bodies sub-contracted by these organisations. They are sent to the developing country although they are not nationals of that country. They have a contract with an organisation in the Federal Republic of Germany, and work as a consultant or adviser in a Technical and Financial Co­op­er­a­tion project or programme. In addition to the GIZ and KfW Entwicklungsbank, which second experts on behalf of the German government, political foundations and other private-sector organisations second experts to partner countries.

Integrated experts

Integrated experts are German citizens or the nationals of another EU state. They are employed by a public or private-sector body in a partner country and enter into a local contract of employment with that body in order to bridge a temporary gap in the availability of suitable personnel. Integrated experts receive a customary local salary. This salary is then topped up with German public funds, which are also used to finance orientations for the assignment in the partner country, and social insurance contributions. When integrated experts return to Germany they are granted transitional assistance to help them with their professional reintegration here, should they not immediately find employment.

The Integrated Experts Programme is run by CIM, the Centre for In­ter­na­tional Migration and De­vel­op­ment.


The term "volunteer" is defined in the "Entwicklungshelfer-Gesetz" (Volunteer Law). Under the provisions of this legislation, a volunteer is somebody under­taking a minimum of two years' service in developing countries for a state-approved provider of de­vel­op­ment services without any view to pecuniary gain, in order to contribute to progress in these countries in a spirit of co­op­er­a­tion among partners.

Volunteers differ from other experts in that they are not employed for pecuniary gain. The Volunteer Law stipulates that they receive a maintenance allowance for the duration of their assignment and that their social insurance contributions are paid.

Volunteers can only be seconded by the following seven state-approved organisations:

  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklungshilfe e.V. (AGEH)
    (Association for De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion),
    funded by Catholic organisations and institutions

  • Deutsche Ge­sell­schaft für In­ter­na­ti­o­nale Zu­sam­men­ar­beit (GIZ), owned by the Federal Republic of Germany

  • Dienste in Übersee gGmbH (Services Overseas),
    funded by Protestant organisations and institutions,
    now part of the Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED)
    (Church De­vel­op­ment Service)

  • Christliche Fachkräfte In­ter­na­tional e.V. (CFI),
    (Christian Services In­ter­na­tional),
    established by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft evangelikaler Missionen
    in conjunction with the Deutsche Evangelische Allianz

  • EIRENE, Internationaler Christlicher Friedensdienst e.V.
    (In­ter­na­tional Christian Service for Peace)

  • Weltfriedensdienst e.V. (WFD)

  • Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e.V. (forumZFD)
    (Forum Civil Peace Service)

In 1993 the seven organisations got together to set up the umbrella organisation "Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Entwicklungsdienste" (AGdD, in German). Together they place more than 1,500 volunteers in partner projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and in the reforming states of Eastern Europe every year. The "Förderungswerk für rückkehrende Fachkräfte der Entwicklungsdienste" is also part of the AGdD. This body helps returning volunteers to reintegrate into the working world at home.

The non-governmental bodies providing de­vel­op­ment services are also involved in the Arbeitskreis "Lernen und Helfen in Übersee" (AKLHÜ, Association for Learning and Helping Overseas) along with other volunteer services. AKLHÜ runs a joint counselling and application unit, and a database for possible assignments overseas as a volunteer, as well as assignments in work camps and internships (situations vacant database of the Arbeitskreis "Lernen und Helfen in Übersee" – Association for Learning and Helping Overseas).

ASA programme

The ASA Programme gives students, graduates and young professionals under the age of 30 the opportunity to gain practical work experience in Africa, Latin America and Asia. They can be granted scholarships for the work they perform for suitable institutions in developing countries.

The programme was first founded in 1960 in response to an initiative of students. In general, three months are spent abroad. The entire programme, including preparatory training courses and follow-up seminars, lasts approximately one year. An active network provides the opportunity for a permanent and long-term exchange of knowledge and experience, as well as for involvement in de­vel­op­ment-policy educational work. To date more than 6,000 people have taken part in these programmes.

Junior employee promotion in de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion

In order to train German junior employees for an assignment within the framework of de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, the German government supports various organisations and programmes.

In the field of in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment policy, the programme "Beigeordnete Sachverständige zu in­ter­na­ti­o­nalen Or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on­en" (Experts Assigned to In­ter­na­tional Organisations) is important. It has been receiving funding from the BMZ's budget since 1976.

The annual postgraduate training course offered by the German De­vel­op­ment Institute (GDI) in Bonn is also an important way of training young recruits. The course lasts a total of nine months and involves an 11-week stay in a developing or transition country. The course attracts about 20 university graduates every year.

The Centre for Advanced Training in Rural De­vel­op­ment (SLE) is part of the Humboldt University in Berlin. Every year, it offers a 12-month postgraduate course for up to 20 graduates in the methods and instruments used in rural de­vel­op­ment. An important part of the course is a three-month assignment abroad, in order to look at de­vel­op­ment-policy issues in practice and to strengthen the analytical and social skills of participants.

The Deutsche Ge­sell­schaft für In­ter­na­ti­o­nale Zu­sam­men­ar­beit (GIZ) offers young graduates a "De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion Trainee Programme" which lasts 18 months. Participants become familiar with German and multilateral de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion from a number of different perspectives. The programme focuses on Technical Co­op­er­a­tion. After a two-month preparatory period, participants spend a nine-month assignment in a GIZ project. Trainees also work at various stations inside other German and in­ter­na­tional organisations and at the BMZ.

The GIZ offers de­vel­op­ment scholarships to qualified young employees as well as to college and university graduates. After a one-month preparatory period in Germany, the scholarship holders work for a maximum period of 12 months in one of the countries in which the GIZ operates. During this period they are supervised by a mentor and become familiar with the various fields of work of de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. The GIZ also organises co­op­er­a­tion with the United Nations Volunteers and with the new de­vel­op­ment volunteers service "weltwärts".

KfW Entwicklungsbank too offers a high-quality internship and junior employee programme, which involves periods spent abroad in developing countries.

BMZ glossary

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