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German Institute for Development Evaluation

Returnees of the development volunteer service weltwärts and their civic engagement in Germany

Since the launch of the development volunteer service weltwärts in 2008, more than 20,000 young adults have been matched with partner organisations in the global South. weltwärts is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is implemented by more than 200 civil society organisations and Engagement Global. The steering group of weltwärts is composed of state and civil society actors. weltwärts aims at providing an opportunity for young adults not only to support development projects in partner countries but also to gain new insights in understanding other cultures and ways of living. After their return, volunteers are supposed to engage in educating the German public with respect to development policy.

Objectives and methodology

The DEval evaluation focuses on this role of returned volunteers. The evaluation aims at analysing the effectiveness of returned volunteers in Germany. In this context both the effectiveness of the program at an individual level and at the societal level will be analysed.

The evaluation uses a mixed-methods approach, in which quantitative and qualitative methods are combined. This allows for the triangulation of methods as well as data sources. A quasi-experimental design is at the center of the methodology. All volunteers, who have participated and currently participate in the program are invited to answer the online survey. Additionally a comparison group, which consists of persons as similar as possible to the group of volunteers and who are part of the population, also answer an online survey. The evaluation thus produces effect estimates using a cross-sectional design with matched controls. Qualitative focus group discussions with returned volunteers allow for an in-depth understanding of factors which influence individual changes and civic engagement of returned volunteers. To assess the effects of volunteers in German society, friends and family of volunteers are also invited to answer an online survey.

Timeframe of the evaluation

• January 2016: Start of the evaluation

• February to Mai 2016: Design-phase of the evaluation

• June to September 2016: Data collection

• October to December 2016: Data analyses

• Starting February 2017: Discussion of results and report writing

• 4th Quarter 2017: Publication of the report

All relevant stakeholder groups are represented in the reference group of the evaluation. Members are representatives of volunteers, sending organisations, Engagement Global and the BMZ.

As at: January 2017