German Institute for Development Evaluation
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09.10.2019 - In Germany the general public are in favour of development cooperation, but doubt its effectiveness.

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Bonn, 09 October 2019 - Around 90% of the public in Germany regard development cooperation as important, though many have doubts about its effectiveness. Only 10% consider it to be highly effective, whereas 25% believe it has little or no effect. These are the findings of the DEval Opinion Monitor for Development Policy 2018, published today in English by the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval).

Germany's development policy-makers should use this information to further an open discussion on the opportunities and limits of development cooperation. DEval recommends that they identify both positive results and points of criticism, to create a basis for realistic expectations of development cooperation.

Particularly when compared with other countries, Germany’s strong public support for development cooperation is noteworthy. Unlike other key donors such as the UK or US, in Germany there is a broad consensus that development cooperation is an important component of German policy. Forty per cent of the population even advocate stepping up Germany's engagement for global poverty reduction. Prof. Dr. Jörg Faust, Director of DEval, said: 'Germany's development policy-makers have an opportunity, which not all countries necessarily have, to discuss with the public not whether they should pursue development cooperation, but how they should go about it.'

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The DEval Opinion Monitor for Development Policy 2018 is the first comprehensive study to capture the German public's attitudes to development cooperation and sustainable global development, and determine how well-informed and engaged they are. The study uses the Aid Attitudes Tracker (AAT) as a database. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the AAT has been gathering data in Germany, France, the UK and the US since 2013. The Opinion Monitor supplies initial findings on how Germany's development policy-makers can reach various sections of the public more effectively through their communication and education work.

According to the DEval Opinion Monitor, the general public have a rather patchy knowledge of development cooperation and global development. For instance, it notes that they overestimate the financial scope of development cooperation, but significantly underestimate the decline in global poverty over the last 25 years. Moreover, they are barely aware of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the international community in 2015, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals it contains.

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The DEval Opinion Monitor shows that public opinion is largely dependent on the public’s political orientation, perceived moral obligation toward the Global South and appraisal of development cooperation's effectiveness. It identifies four groups based on which type of attitude they hold: The 'supporters' (14%) display highly positive attitudes to development cooperation across all areas. The remaining three categories – the 'sceptics' (23%), 'undecideds' (35%) and 'opponents' (28%) – display varying degrees of concern regarding its effectiveness.

DEval will conduct further studies in the future on public attitudes to development cooperation and sustainable development.

The Opinion Monitor (Meinungsmonitor Entwicklungspolitik 2018) was first published in German in 2018.

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