Development worker: 50 years of “contribution to the progress”


From Afghanistan to Central Africa: In 91 countries, German development workers are active. Since 1969, a law that governs your work. The response abroad was for some a means of escape, and was then for the appeal.

Erwin Wild, wild man was not to the army. His degree as an agricultural engineer, he had, in the year 1975 fresh in the bag, as a door opened. “Development aid,” says the wild man of the DW, “was for me the opportunity to avoid the military service”.

As a young man of 27 years for the first some years previously adopted a development worker act (EhfG) offered him a way out. Who went abroad to contribute to development aid, could not be to the at that time mandatory military service used. The young agricultural engineer was on the way to Cameroon. “I am therefore this act is very grateful,” says Erwin Wild wild man.

As a young man in Cameroon: Erwin Wilde von Wildemann

Fancy the country life

50 years ago, in the summer of 1969, adopted by the Bundestag, the law. And thus the work of development facilitates helpers. As a well drill, teachers or Agricultural experts, they were in numerous countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America in use. Now, you were also with health and pension social security. And had to perform no military service and more. Your order according to the law: in the countries of the South “in partnership to contribute to progress”.

Erwin Wild wild man landed in the village of Bantoum in the West of Cameroon. “The aim was to promote rural development, to combat the flight from the land,” he says. “That was a big issue and we had to make the order, the country life more attractive.” The tried of wild man with new methods of cultivation for the farmers. But also with sports and games for younger village residents.

It will be less

About 30,000 Germans have it done by a wild man since 1969, the same. And although “non-profit”, as the law prescribes, without salary, but only with money that secures the maintenance. While you may receive additional charges. The development workers earn significantly less than other Sent from development organizations.

Development workers can be sent in Germany only seven recognised organisations abroad: the state society for International cooperation (GIZ), as well as Church and civil society media. Meanwhile, only 1000 people per year this way, 50 percent in less than a decade ago. “The Numbers have decreased, especially in the area of governmental development cooperation”, says Ottmar von Holtz. He is the Chairman of the Greens in the Committee on economic cooperation in the Bundestag. “The Federal government has not explained to a small request to my group why the Numbers are declining.”

Commerce and idealism

The business of development cooperation has changed considerably, the competent Minister Gerd Müller of the CSU. “50 years ago, especially medical, technical, and educational qualifications were asked,” writes Müller in a commemorative publication of the Association “Association of development of services”. Today, it is more likely to expertise in climate protection, Trauma education, or digitization.

1971: Chancellor Willy Brandt visited German development workers in Kenya

The former development worker from the wild man says that the development of cooperation in the past years has become the business, to commercialize. “It is part of the concept that also works with the economy. That was our time, thus not conceivable.” It is always a lot of money and material use. “From Germany posted people the most are sitting in a well air-conditioned offices in cities with your Internet connection. You hope that what you bring good insights and Material, recorded by others, and to sense is used.”

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Yes, the development aid, have become professionalized in recent years, says Green politician from Holtz. The development of helper-law is a good law. “But we must, in the future, a lot more look for a better exchange to get added: an exchange between Germany and developing countries, a better South-North-exchange, and maybe also an exchange between the countries of the South to each other.” He wants not only the Germans to leave the country in developing countries, but also more and more skilled workers come from there to Germany. “It shows again and again that the awarding of visas is a major obstacle. The need to solve the Federal government. There are people that come in, but there could be more.” Of Holtz hopes that as a result, the number of development workers in total might be rising again.

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Veye Tatah: “Africans must develop Africa.”

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Veye Tatah: “Africans must develop Africa”

For the former development workers from wild man was the initial way out of a calling to Cameroon. “I very quickly realized that it is a sensible and worthwhile task can be, in development cooperation to continue,” he says. This Friday travelled from wild man to Berlin. Together with other former development and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he is assistants to look back on 50 years of development aid workers act. For of wild man it is also a look back at his career. What began as an Alternative to military service, which ended for him with a whole career in the development cooperation.