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Instruments and structures of development cooperationconcluded

Exit Processes in Development Cooperation

The starting point for the “Exit processes in development cooperation” synthesis study is a strategic reorientation in German development cooperation. The study was completed in 2021.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s reform process “BMZ 2030” aims to increase the coherence and efficiency of German bilateral official development cooperation through geographical, thematic and instrumental concentration processes. Generally speaking, concentration processes entail exit processes in other areas of development cooperation.

An exit could, for example, provide the opportunity to strengthen development policy activities in areas that promise high effectiveness. It may also be associated with negative impacts for the intended or achieved results as well as the partnership between the donor and the (former) partner country.

This synthesis study examines what should be considered in the course of exit processes in bilateral official development cooperation at country, sector or instrument level in order to design an exit process in the best possible way with a view to the sustainability of the results and partnerships. The findings are based on a literature review supplemented by interviews with experts, an online survey and in-depth studies on exit processes in German bilateral official development cooperation.


The starting point for the “Exit processes in development cooperation” synthesis study is a strategic reorientation in German development cooperation (DC). The latest frameworks established (Marshall Plan, Development Policy 2030) involve a change in strategy in terms of specifically supporting reform countries in particular and strengthening partnerships with countries that advocate good governance, economic development and the protection of human rights.

As a rule, however, a strategic concentration process in this sense also requires a retreat from individual fields of activity in development cooperation not only on a geographic level, but also on a thematic and instrumental level. In the context of the BMZ 2030 process, therefore, BMZ is discussing the possibility of adjusting the list of countries.

Alongside the intention of increasing effectiveness in development cooperation focus areas, there are also substantial risks involved in exit and phasing out processes for the countries, sectors and instruments concerned. For example, the sustainability of effects that are desired or have already been achieved may be endangered or relations with the partner country may become strained – especially the political dialogue with the partner government.

Against the backdrop of the BMZ 2030 process, therefore, experiences and evidence of exit processes up to now have been appraised on the basis of politically motivated concentration processes in order to learn from them.


The synthesis study aims to pinpoint the evidence that is available for well designed – or not so well designed – exit and phasing out processes. To this end, it has compiled experience and evidence with regard to what needs to be taken into consideration in the course of exit processes. The synthesis study therefore does not conclude by developing a complete exit strategy, but rather provides pointers for designing exit processes. The study has also identified gaps in evidence.

The key questions of the synthesis study are as follows:

- What evidence is available regarding the design of exit processes in development cooperation?

- What needs to be taken into account in the exit process in order to design it as well as possible?

- What should be avoided in the exit process in order to design it as well as possible?

- Why are some findings regarding exit processes not implemented in development cooperation?

- Where are there gaps in the evidence regarding the good design of exit processes in development cooperation?


The synthesis study is based on extensive literature research and evaluation with the aim of compiling both German and international experience and evidence relating to exit processes. By means of visiting countries and interviewing experts on the donor side, it has examined this evidence from various perspectives and identified evidence gaps. Aiming to record experiences on the donor side as comprehensively as possible, the study also included a survey of members of the DAC Network on Development Evaluation.



Portrait von Dr. Kim Lücking
© DEval

Dr Kim Lücking

Senior Evaluator - Team Leader

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-991

E-mail: kim.luecking@DEval.org

Portrait von Dr. Stefan Leiderer
© DEval

Dr Stefan Leiderer

Head of Department: Governance, Bi and Multilateral Development Cooperation

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-940

E-mail: stefan.leiderer@DEval.org

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