Fact check Frequently asked questions to the German Development Ministry (BMZ)

Currently, increased levels of misinformation and misunderstandings regarding Germany's development policy are circulating on the internet and in social networks. The Ministry is therefore providing answers to the current most frequently asked questions:

What does development policy do for people in Germany?

Global problems can only be solved through global cooperation. For instance, climate change can only be halted through joint action worldwide. And in many of our partner countries, this can be done more easily than in Germany – for example because it is an option to build wind turbines right away, instead of phasing out coal and dismantling coal power plants. In other words, it is an option to invest immediately in climate-neutral energy instead of taking a detour via fossil fuels.

And of course it is clear that it makes no difference whether a tonne of carbon is saved in Peru, India or Germany. Every reduction is equally important for global climate change mitigation, because climate change is global and the damage from climate change can be felt worldwide – in droughts in the Sahel, cyclones in the Ganges Delta, and floods in northern Germany.

The same goes for the global fight against violence and armed conflict, support for refugees, and assistance for their host countries and countries of origin, as well as the fight against global pandemics. All this will only work with more cooperation, not with less.

Moreover, development policy pays off financially. Every euro we spend today to make societies worldwide more resilient to crisis will save taxpayers four euros in humanitarian aid in the future. So this investment pays off.

Moreover, it is more important than ever for Germany to have allies and trading partners all over the world with whom we work in mutual respect and partnership. Active development policies lay the foundations for this, and they open doors. Germany's prosperity has been built on this openness towards the world. Exports account for one in every two euros made in Germany. If Germany wants to remain a strong exporting nation, if we want to continue to sell cars, machinery and medication to other countries, we cannot afford a mentality of retreating into our shell.

Is Germany really paying for bike paths in Peru?

According to some online sources, the BMZ is supposedly paying 315 million euros for bicycle paths and buses in Peru. This figure is not correct.

In actual fact, the BMZ is providing a 20-million-euro grant (which was committed in 2020) to support the development of a network of bicycle highways in Lima, which is currently under construction. In 2022, the BMZ committed another 24 million euros for the construction of bicycle paths in Peru. These paths are currently in the planning stage.

The Development Ministry is providing this support for good reason. In the Paris Agreement, the international community agreed in 2015 that all countries should reduce their carbon emissions, and that wealthier nations should assist the less wealthy nations in their efforts. Both then Chancellor Merkel and Chancellor Scholz made commitments for Germany's annual contribution to this assistance. This contribution will rise to a minimum of six billion euros in 2025.

Bicycle highways in one of South America's biggest and fast-growing cities have multiple benefits: they provide affordable transport options for all sections of the population, thus also improving the social and economic participation of poor people, and they protect the climate. After all, the transport sector is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Peru – a country with rapidly growing urban centres. If greenhouse gas emissions in Peru are reduced, this is just as important for people in Germany as climate action at home. In the long run, climate change mitigation – no matter where in the world it takes place – means that we have to spend less on addressing damage and devastation after floods and droughts, and on rebuilding infrastructure that has been destroyed.

This is why Germany is also providing targeted support to Peru through loans for the development of an environmentally friendly bus system. In 2015, a loan of about 55 million euros was provided – in other words, this is money that will be paid back. Another loan for a little over 100 million euros was committed in 2022.

Is it true that Germany is paying billions of euros to India, providing economic assistance to a rich country?

No. The purpose of Germany's development cooperation with India is to jointly tackle global challenges such as climate change. Here, cooperation with large and emerging economies like India is absolutely vital. India, the world's largest democracy, is also an important partner in geopolitical terms.

Unlike in the BMZ's cooperation with countries with lower gross domestic products, support for India is provided mainly (about 90 per cent) in the form of reduced-interest loans. This means that India is repaying the money with interest. So the bulk of Indo-German cooperation does not require any taxpayers' money. The point is that if these investments result in the world's most populous country moving towards climate neutrality, all people worldwide will benefit in the end, no matter whether they live in India or Germany.

Is Germany paying money to China as part of German development cooperation?

Germany is not giving any development funding to China. China has vast economic and technological resources. It is providing loans to other countries itself, and is investing in infrastructure projects, for instance in Africa. So, since 2010, there has been no more bilateral development cooperation between Germany and China. The remaining cooperation between the BMZ and China focuses on the two countries' efforts to jointly provide and protect global public goods such as climate action and health. In some instances, there is also cooperation for the benefit of third countries.

So why does China still appear in official development assistance statistics? This is due, among other things, to the fact that these statistics include the cost of Chinese students at German higher education institutions. This exchange is in Germany's interest, as many of these Chinese students later contribute to close economic relations, for instance by working for German companies that cooperate closely with China. Then there is the Rule of Law Dialogue which the Federal Ministry of Justice is holding with China. This Dialogue is supported by one project of the BMZ.

The development agencies of Germany's two large churches are also running projects in China. These projects belong to the part of German development cooperation that is initiated and implemented by non-governmental entities on their own – by the churches, political foundations and numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs), for instance. This form of German development cooperation, too, is receiving financial support from the government. The responsibility for implementing the projects rests with the non-governmental executing agencies. Even though they receive government grants, they carry out their work completely independently. In line with our democratic constitution, they make a commitment not to engage in any missionary activity or exert any political influence. When it comes to choosing partners, topics and projects, they decide themselves how they will use the BMZ funding.

Is the BMZ funding gender training in China and a project on positive masculinity in Rwanda?

Yes. However, these two projects are not BMZ projects. They are run by the churches (in China, by the German Catholic Central Agency for Development Aid, and in Rwanda, by the German Protestant Association for Cooperation in Development). When it comes to choosing partners, topics and projects, the churches themselves decide how they will use the BMZ funding.

The BMZ also supports many projects of its own that are geared to gender equality, because societies that respect and support the equality of men and women are more stable and resilient. One focus of Germany's development cooperation is feminist development policy. As part of that focus, support is provided, for instance, to projects to stop violence against women. In order to achieve lasting success on this front, changes in the way that men view their own role are very important. And that is precisely what is meant by “positive masculinity”. Only if men's attitude towards women changes will it be possible to continuously reduce violence against women.

Is it true that German development funding is going to the Taliban?

No. There is no direct development cooperation with Afghanistan, and no money is going to the Taliban. They do not represent a legitimate government in Afghanistan. After the Taliban seized power on 15 August 2021, Germany stopped its bilateral official development cooperation. However, it is still providing assistance to the people of Afghanistan through multilateral organisations such as the UN and the World Bank, and together with non-governmental organisations. There is no cooperation with the Taliban. No money is channelled through Taliban ministries or authorities.

Is Germany financing Hamas in the Gaza Strip through development projects?

No German government funding is going to terrorist organisations like Hamas. Nor is the German government providing any unearmarked funding to the Palestinian Authority. German government funding in the Palestinian territories is earmarked for specific projects, and its use is subject to strict criteria.

The strict BMZ safeguards that apply to all projects in the Palestinian territories include close scrutiny – based on a method consisting of several stages – of local partners and their staff, of materials shipped to the Gaza Strip, and of financial flows.

In the current difficult situation, there can be no doubt that Germany must work to ease the suffering of the Palestinians. In the long term, Israelis and Palestinians will only be able to live in peace and security if the other side is able to live in peace and security, too.

Further information about the safeguards applied to development projects in the Palestinian territories can be found in this press release.

Why does Germany continue to give money to countries that won't take their nationals back if they are required to leave Germany?

If you cut support for food, education or health, you increase human suffering and political and social instability. This adds to the causes of displacement and migration, rather than reducing them.

Development policy serves to reduce inequalities and provide a basis for people to enjoy decent living conditions. In this way, it contributes to peace and security. These are key prerequisites for preventing the displacement of people.

Experience shows that working together with other governments on migration can be facilitated best through more cooperation and communication on the basis of mutual trust, not through pressure and confrontation.

In countries with authoritarian governments, with which cooperation is only possible on a limited scale, our cooperation is already designed in such a way that it reaches the people directly.

Is Germany really providing 61 billion euros a year for development cooperation?

No, this amount mentioned on the BMZ transparency portal (External link) is the total volume of all current projects – most of which run for quite a number of years –, and it includes both grants and repayable loans.

The BMZ budget – that is the tax money used in a given year – was about 12 billion euros in 2023. This is about 2.5 per cent of the federal budget.

Why is Germany providing so much more official development assistance than other countries?

In terms of development funding as a proportion of gross national income, Germany ranks fourth behind Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway. Germany's relatively big development programme is in its own interest. That is also why it has a long tradition, across different coalition governments. As an economy with close international ties worldwide, Germany depends even more than others on fostering sound relations and close partnerships, and resolving global crises peacefully, through cooperation.

Global problems can only be solved through global cooperation. For instance, climate change can only be halted through joint action worldwide. And in many of our partner countries, this can be done more easily than in Germany – for example because it is an option to build wind turbines right away, instead of phasing out coal and dismantling coal power plants. In other words, it is an option to invest immediately in climate-neutral energy instead of taking a detour via fossil fuels.

The same goes for the global fight against violence and armed conflict, support for refugees, and assistance for their host countries and countries of origin, as well as the fight against global pandemics. All this will only work with more cooperation, not with less.

Development policy pays off financially. Every euro we spend today to make societies worldwide more resilient to crisis will save taxpayers four euros in humanitarian aid in the future. So this investment pays off.

Moreover, it is more important than ever for Germany to have allies and trading partners all over the world with whom we work in mutual respect and partnership. Active development policies lay the foundations for this, and they open doors. Germany's prosperity has been built on this openness towards the world. Exports account for one in every two euros made in Germany. If Germany wants to remain a strong exporting nation, if we want to continue to sell cars, machinery and medication to other countries, we cannot afford a mentality of retreating into our shell.

As at: 12/01/2024