Working together to eliminate poverty

An evacuee peeks through a makeshift classroom inside one of the evacuation sites in Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

According to World Bank calculations, more than 700 million people are still living in extreme poverty, which means they have less than 1.90 US dollars a day to live on. If poverty is considered as a multidimensional phenomenon, the number rises to 1.46 billion people. This is the figure cited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

Working to combat poverty and bring about better living conditions worldwide is one of the most important challenges on both the international and the German development agenda.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

In September 2015, the UN General Assembly meeting in New York adopted the "2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", containing 17 goals. In it, the international community pledges to work together to tackle pressing challenges for the future of our planet. At the top of the Agenda is the goal of eradicating extreme poverty in all its forms.

This can only be achieved if inequalities within individual countries are reduced. The principle of "leave no one behind" enshrined in the 2030 Agenda calls for the specific needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people to be taken into account.

Germany's engagement against povertyt

The eradication of poverty is an overarching goal of German development cooperation. All measures supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) contribute – directly or indirectly – towards achieving this goal.

To fight poverty we need solutions that are tailored to the needs of individual countries and to specific contexts. In recognition of this, Germany is engaged in a range of different activities aimed at reducing poverty.

In the following, you will find further information about the various kinds of activities in which the BMZ is engaged with a view to contributing to poverty reduction.

Human rights

A young girl looks at her reflection inside her slum home, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Respect for, and the protection and upholding of, all human rights are an essential basis for poverty reduction. Only if the fundamental rights required for a decent life are respected and preserved, can people lead self-determined lives within society, making political and economic choices for themselves in accordance with their personal abilities and opportunities. Only then will they be able to free themselves from poverty by their own efforts.

The strategy paper "Human Rights in German Development Policy" firmly establishes a human rights-based approach in German development policy. That is why the systematic and comprehensive mainstreaming of human rights is a binding precept of German development cooperation.


Car manufacturing in Mexico

An effective economy that creates jobs for everyone is the most important prerequisite for reducing poverty in developing countries. Germany's economic cooperation with partner countries fosters strategies for growth that seek to create jobs and to have the broadest possible impact (pro-poor growth).

Besides strengthening the private sector in partner countries, the German government also strives to encourage close cooperation with Germany's own private sector, for example through public private partnerships, known as PPPs.


Factory in Bangladesh where social and environmental standards are respected

The industrialised countries exert a decisive influence over the global economy. They bear a great responsibility for ensuring that global trade is conducted equitably. To make sure that developing countries are also able to reap the benefits of globalisation and reduce their poverty, greater consideration must be given to their interests within the world trade system.

The BMZ is therefore engaged in efforts to bring about the abolition of agricultural export subsidies and other trade-distorting support measures applied by the industrialised countries, and seeks to encourage fair working conditions.

Food and rural development

Plant breeding.

Poverty is indivisibly linked to hunger and malnutrition – more than 800 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat, and a billion more lack access to essential vitamins and other micro-nutrients. As part of its special initiative 'One World – No Hunger', the BMZ is supporting its partner countries in their efforts to develop their own strategies for food security and rural development.

Basic social services

Children in a mother-child facility in Burundi

Poor people are often unable to afford a visit to a doctor or to pay for their children to attend school. Yet only people who are healthy and have an adequate level of education stand a chance of lifting themselves out of poverty. Basic social services such as health care and basic education are therefore important elements for reducing poverty.

Insurance cover

On the monthly banking day, microfinance customers in Laos deposit money at the village bank.

Around 70 per cent of the world’s population lacks adequate protection against risks such as sickness, unemployment, poverty in old age, and crop failure or other climate risks. Social security systems are important instruments for structural poverty reduction.

Every year, 26 million people in emerging economies or developing countries slip into extreme poverty as a result of extreme weather events. Climate risk insurance schemes offer a financial safety net against the negative impacts of such events.

Environmental protection and resource conservation

Hoverfly on a flower

The increasing destruction of natural resources is undermining the foundations of poor people’s livelihoods worldwide. At the same time, the poor as well as private business and industry tend to overexploit natural resources – the poor for reasons of material need, and business and industry for the sake of profit. Both internationally and domestically, Germany is working to protect the environment and natural resources. Thus, Germany supports the implementation of binding rules under international law to combat desertification, to reduce greenhouse gases, to promote renewable energies and to conserve forests and species diversity. Furthermore, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) fosters the development and implementation of environmental standards in business and industry.

Good governance

A National Election Commission employee tears off a ballot paper for a voter at a polling station in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 11 August 2007.

Poorly functioning administrations, arbitrary legal systems and corruption are impediments to development and hence also to successful poverty reduction. Furthermore, poor people are largely excluded from political decision-making processes. Germany is assisting its partner countries in developing stable democratic and rule-of-law structures, aspects which are essential in order to protect human rights effectively. Enabling poor and disadvantaged sections of the population to benefit from development processes and to have their concerns heard is particularly important.


A knotted pistol: The work "Non Violence" by the Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd has been a symbol of peace in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York since 1988.

Poverty, inequality, and economic and political discrimination are all breeding grounds for violent conflicts and ethnic, religious and regional hostilities. Conflicts and the associated military spending hold back development and at the same time create new poverty. Germany supports programmes on crisis prevention, reconciliation work, mine clearance, disarmament and reducing military expenditure. These measures are designed also to tackle the structural causes of conflict, such as political injustices or social inequalities.

Displacement and migration

Refugee camp Zaatari in Jordan

There are more than 68 million displaced people in the world. They are fleeing poverty, hunger, wars and violence, human rights abuses, natural disasters, marginalisation and political, ethnic or religious persecution.

The task of development cooperation is to assist people in their efforts to live their lives in dignity and to build a future for themselves and their children in their home countries.

Urban development and population trends

Algiers, Algeria

The global population is growing. By 2050, it will probably have grown to 9.6 billion people. Population dynamics – by which we mean changes in the size, structure and distribution of the population – are already having a considerable influence on development processes, in particular in the urban agglomerations of developing countries, where population numbers are continually rising. Urbanisation in developing countries has been accompanied by a rapid increase in poverty. Yet, urbanisation also offers huge opportunities for development. Cities are extremely important in terms of providing non-discriminatory access to basic services and enabling economic and social participation for all people, and also therefore in terms of promoting human rights. German development cooperation activities designed to turn this urban potential to account are therefore helping to reduce both social inequality and poverty.

Financing for development

Philippine farmer cleans rice

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its goals requires huge efforts – on the financial as well as the political front. Only if governments make available the funding needed for implementation, will they succeed in reaching the agreed goals. It is for this very reason that the 2030 Agenda contains a chapter specifically focusing on global partnership and the resources needed for implementation. Implementation requires the mobilisation of funds from national and international sources, additional funding from private sources, the promotion of fair terms of trade, and the transfer of knowledge and technology.

Strengthening civil society

Prospective teachers educate their colleagues at a training centre in Chimoio (Mozambique) about the transmission of AIDS.

Development can only come from within society. A strong civil society which is able to act unimpeded is therefore essential; it is also needed to help realise human rights and reduce poverty. The German government has therefore set itself the goal of strengthening civil society engagement and utilising it more effectively in the interests of development – both in partner countries and in Germany.

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