German development experts: 50 years of "contributing to progress" Politics and Economy -

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Ervin Fielde von Feldman did not want to join the German army. And the certificate of finishing his studies in agricultural engineering was available in his bag in 1975 and then open one of the doors in front of him. "Development assistance was a possibility for me to avoid military service," says von Feldman in his interview with Deutsche Welle. The development workers' law, issued several years earlier, opened up to him as a 27-year-old man. It goes abroad to provide development assistance can not be committed to military service. The young agricultural engineer then went to Cameroon.

Desire for rural life

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1969, the German Parliament passed the law, thus facilitating the work of development officials. They worked in various countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America as wells, teachers or agricultural experts. They had health and pension insurance and were no longer obliged to perform military service. The mandate given to them by law in the South is "to contribute to progress through partnership-based cooperation." Arvin Fielde von Feldman arrived in the village of Bantum in western Cameroon. "It was about supporting rural development and combating rural migration," Feldman says. "It was a big topic at that time and we had the task of making rural life attractive." This is what von Feldman has tried with new farming methods for farmers.

The number of volunteers declined

About 30.000 Germans have done the same thing since 1969 as Von Feldman. Without the "intention to work", as provided for by the law, ie without receiving a salary, but only the money that guarantees living. Development workers earn less than development organization delegates. They can be sent from Germany through seven recognized organizations abroad, the Intergovernmental Association for International Cooperation, as well as church and civic social institutions. In the meantime, only 1,000 people a year choose this path, 50 percent less than a decade ago. "Numbers have fallen, especially in the area of ​​government development cooperation," says Otmar von Holtz. "The German government did not explain in response to a small question from my bloc why the numbers have declined," he said"He said.

Entwicklungszusammenarbeit | Deutschland Welthungerhilfe | Demokratische Republik Kongo (imago images / blickwinkel)

German development officials are present in various African countries

Trade and Idealism

The nature of development cooperation has changed significantly, says Minister Gerd Mueller of the Christian Social Party. "Fifty years ago, medical, professional, technical and educational qualifications were especially required," Mueller wrote in a magazine for the Union of Development Work Group. Today, knowledge is associated with environmental protection and trauma management or the digital field. Former development worker Von Feldman says development cooperation in recent years has turned into a trade if he says, "It's part of the project that we cooperate with the economy, and that was not in our time." It is always a lot of money and the use of tools. "A majority of people sent from Germany sit in air-conditioned offices connected to the Internet in major cities, and they hope that others will receive and transmit the good information and tools they come to and use reasonably," von Feldman said.

Sometimes in a different way

Yes, development assistance in recent years has been professional, as is the political politician Von Holtz. The workers' development law is still a good law. "But in the future we must make sure that we get a better exchange, an exchange between Germany and developing countries, a better exchange between the North and South and perhaps a South-South exchange," says Holtz. He wants the Germans not only to go to developing countries, but to bring competent forces from there to Germany. "It's always clear that granting visas is a big hurdle, and that's what the German government has to solve, there are people coming in but their numbers can increase," says von Holtz, hoping that the number of development workers will rise. For former development worker Von Feldman, the director turned Cameroon into a task. "I quickly noted that it was a reasonable and feasible task to continue to work in development cooperation," he said. Von Feldman traveled to Berlin, where he is reviewing with former development workers and German Chancellor Angela Merkel 50 years of the development workers' law. For Von Feldman, that means a review of his career. What began as an alternative to military service ended as a career path in development cooperation.

Peter Hill

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