Soil protection in German development cooperation

Seedling on a field in Northern Kenya

Soil protection has been an issue for German development cooperation activities for many years now. For the most part, Germany does not carry out specific soil-related projects; soil protection mostly features as a cross-cutting issue of all projects and programmes in the fields of rural development, protection of water catchment areas, conservation of biodiversity and climate action.

In early 2014, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) launched the special initiative "ONE WORLD – No Hunger”. The initiative addresses its main objective, fighting hunger and malnutrition, by combining measures from the areas of food security, rural development and promotion of agriculture.

Germany is one of the largest donors in the the field of soil protection. In 2012 and 2013 alone, it made some 425 million euros available to support efforts in this area.

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Multi-level commitment

Support is focused on four dimensions.

  • The ecological dimension: the environmental conditions in which people live must be improved, for instance by adopting appropriate irrigation techniques or taking measures to prevent soil erosion.
  • The economic dimension: Farmers and livestock breeders must be given support to enable them to use their land effectively without over-exploiting it. Business promotion programmes can help them to tap into new sources of income by processing their own produce and selling it even beyond their home region. To this end, the legal issue of land ownership must be clarified.
  • The social dimension: All the relevant stakeholders from civil society need to be involved in the activities. The same applies to poverty reduction programmes. When it comes to using natural resources, women play a key role in rural areas of developing countries. That is why special attention is paid to their needs.
  • The political dimension: In order to increase political participation, people must be given opportunities to exert an influence on the political and societal decisions which directly affect their own lives. To this end, decentralised administrative structures must be put in place.

Consequently, German development cooperation is active at all political levels: at the local level, where people are directly affected, at the national and supra-regional level of the governments of the countries affected, and at the international level, for instance in the context of the European Union, the World Bank or the United Nations.

Links to the chapters

BMZ glossary

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