Our results send an ambivalent signal to the DC community. On the one hand, the general public in Germany is in favour of a stronger development policy commitment during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, there are reservations when it comes to debt relief for developing countries as well as support for the economy and refugees in those countries.
As for now, the connection between the concerns triggered by the pandemic and the attitude towards DC do not indicate that the pandemic is undermining public support for DC. German citizen do not seem to perceive a clear trade-off between measures in Germany and support for developing countries. On the other hand, when looking at health concerns, there are indications that the pandemic could facilitate greater international solidarity. Possibly the pandemic increased empathy for the health issues faced by people living in developing countries.
However, a potential risk lies in declining trust in the government – especially if trust declines during the course of the pandemic. This may, for instance, be the case when lockdown orders are renewed. If trust declines, support for DC may decline, too.
Despite all the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic imposes on citizens, empathy for vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19 in developing countries may foster feelings of international connectedness. For the DC community, this implies that it is important to continue transparently communicating the situation in developing countries and suggesting reasonable interventions to address these challenges. The communication should facilitate trust in these actors by providing matter-of-fact answers that match the challenge at hand. However, some interventions – debt relief in particular – are not only disputed among the scientific community and challenging to effectively implement, but also more difficult to explain to the public.
This blog post was originally published on Development Compass.