Raising Funds for the Unfundables

One month before parliamentary elections in Germany, development minister Dirk Niebel – once again – made an unhelpful public statement adding to question marks about his commitment to core development targets. In an interview with the German newspaper “Frankfurter Rundschau” he stated, that “it has to be clarified, what an appropriate measure for an adequate level of future German development funding is”.

Whereas Niebel’s party’s coalition partner (a union formed of the CDU and the Bavarian CSU) shows clear commitment to a so-called ODA quota (ODA is an abbreviation for “Official Development Assistance” and captures the provision of financial, technical and personnel resources in the framework of public development cooperation) of 0.7% of economic output, the development minister himself disparaged the target as being “rigid” and “no more up-to-date”. In his view, the “quality and success of aid” should be emphasized more prominently, not the mere sums. “It’s weird that a successfully implemented and paid-back development loan lowers the quota whereas the default of a development credit adds to it.”

As much as I agree on putting the emphasis on the quality of aid rather than it’s sheer magnitude, international development cooperation still grapples with massive underfunding for some important causes and several highly-relevant organizations. The insistence on delivering better is only valid on the basis of enabling certain organizations to deliver altogether. Additionally, the ODA quota serves exactly those people who cannot afford a development loan that is eventually paid-back. Attacking the 0.7%-target by referring to development loans completely misses the point of the ODA quota. Sure, we need business for development. But here we’re not talking business; we’re talking about raising funds for the unfundables.