Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Social security in German development cooperation

Social security grows in importance as a development issues. Secure access to social services, especially for the poor, is seen as a basic condition for sustainable economic development.

The argument that only rich countries can effort social security was disproved by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). It claims that systems which offer minimal levels of social security for everybody can be financed by national resources with support of international donors.

While the costs would be manageable, the effects on poverty reduction could be enormous. An ILO simulation for Senegal and Tanzania showed a reduction by 40 percent with the introduction of an universal pension system for the old and orphans. The ILO estimates this will cost 3% of GDP.

The development and support of social security programs is an important part of Germany's development cooperation. The development agencies GTZ (technical cooperation) and KfW (financial activities) support various projects in this field and plan to extend their activities.

A recent resolution of the German parliament calls on the German government to make social security a priority of development policy. The German experience and success in the development and maintenance of social security systems should be seen as an asset to help developing countries. The resolution, which is supported by the main parties of the German Bundestag, criticises the long focus on economic development which lead to the neglect of the social dimension.

Story by Martin Behrens

See also the UN debate on social security

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