German Institute for Development Evaluation

Assignment of development workers (concluded)

For over fifty years German development service organisations have been assigning development workers to partner organisations in developing countries of the global south. This was done through secondment of professionals in accordance to the German “Development Workers Act”. In Germany development service has been delivered by governmental, as well as non-governmental organisations and the forms of assignments vary strongly. The common goal of these assignments is to strengthen local partner organisations and to contribute to a greater understanding of partner countries and development cooperation as a whole within Germany upon the development workers' return.

The following development service organisations, accredited by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development for the assignment of development workers in accordance with the German “Development Workers Act”, were considered within this evaluation: Association for Development Cooperation (AGEH), Service Overseas (DÜ, which since 2012 is part of Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service), Christian Services International (CFI), German Development Service (DED, which since the fusion of German Technical Cooperation in 2011 is part of German International Cooperation, GIZ), International Christian Service for Peace (EIRENE), and the Weltfriedensdienst (WFD).

Objectives of the evaluation

Despite the fact that more than 28.000 development workers have been assigned since the beginning of the programme in 1964, an overarching evaluation of the assignment of development workers was still missing. The overall objective of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of development workers in partner countries, as well as to identify the supporting or hindering factors for the effectiveness of assignment in different contexts and among different forms of assignment.

The evaluation focused on a period of 12 years (2002-2013). A process of re-conceptualising development service was initiated by BMZ and the respective German development service organisations in 2013. The results and recommendations of the evaluation will inform this process.

Update on the evaluation process

A hitherto missing overall causal logic underpinning development workers was jointly developed by DEval and the respective German development services at the end of 2013. In March 2014 the Inception Report was released leading to the following major steps in the evaluation process:

• Conducting a pilot case study in order to (1) create empirical evidence with regard to the causal logic and the underlying hypotheses on outcomes and impacts of development workers; and (2) refine the evaluation design, the approaches and the methodologies to be applied (June 2014).

• Conducting case studies in five different countries in order to assess the effectiveness of development workers (July-September 2014).

• Realisation of an online survey of actual and former development workers on their experiences in partner countries as well as with civic engagement in the German society (August – October 2014).

• Conducting interviews with executives of partner organisations in selected partner countries (September – November 2014).

The results drawn from these major steps in the evaluation process have been triangulated, analysed and synthesised in the last quarter of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. The draft of the evaluation report was completed in June 2015. The final report was published in the fourth quarter of 2015.

In the course of dissemination, the evaluation results have been discussed with all accredited organisations for the assignment of development workers. For implementing the recommendations of the evaluation an implementation plan was developed which is being realised since June 2016.  

Updated: November 2016