Strengthening biosecurity worldwide

Project description

Programme title: GIZ’s contribution to the German Biosecurity Programme
Commissioned by: Federal Foreign Office (AA)
Countries: Priority countries: Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia
Worldwide; in particular in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine
Lead executing agencies: Morocco, Tunisia: Ministère de la Santé; Sudan Federal Ministry of Health
Overall term: 2013 to 2022

Deutsches Biosicherheitsprogramm. Lokaler Experte in persönlicher Schutzausrüstung während einer Simulationsübung zu biologischen Gefahrenlagen. © GIZ


Highly infectious diseases can endanger the health, security and stability of entire nations and societies. Naturally occurring disease outbreaks, the unintended introduction of deadly pathogens or terrorist attacks involving dangerous biological agents can have far-reaching consequences, as has become evident through the SARS CoV-2 pandemic.

To counteract biological risks of this kind, the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) launched the German Biosecurity Programme in 2013. The programme is part of the German Government’s preventive security policy. It contributes to the objectives of the G7 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and to the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention.


Biosecurity expertise is strengthened in the partner countries.

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The German Biosecurity Programme is jointly implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), the German Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, FLI) and the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology (IMB).

The programme is implementing projects in nine partner countries as well as two supraregional projects, each of which contributes to one or more of six overarching goals:

  • The capacity to prevent and respond to biological risks is improved.
  • Highly pathogenic agents are detected and diagnosed more reliably.
  • Networks are coordinating their work more effectively in the event of biological risks.
  • International standards for handling biological pathogens are increasingly applied to protect against unintentional damage (biosafety) and possible misuse (biosecurity). 
  • There is greater awareness of the principles, practices and instruments involved in the non-proliferation of biological weapons.
  • Germany and its partner countries exchange information and experience with respect to biosecurity on a sustainable scientific basis.

In close cooperation with RKI, the project focuses on three priority countries: Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. The project also promotes strengthening expertise in the area of biosecurity in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The Programme Office, which is jointly operated by GIZ and RKI staff, also supports the Federal Foreign Office with the steering of and external communications for the German Biosecurity Programme.

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In Sudan, a national laboratory network has been established to facilitate exchange on biosecurity-related issues. The exchange of information strengthens the ability of the laboratories involved to detect and fight pathogenic agents at an early stage. The project also supported the partners in developing a nationwide strategy for the responsible handling of hazardous biological materials. A system for recording laboratory incidents has already been tested. As a result, international biosecurity standards are increasingly being applied in Sudan.

In Tunisia, an emergency plan for biological threats was developed and tested in several simulation exercises. As a result, coordination among responsible stakeholders and the ability to prevent and respond to biological threats has improved. The project also supported the Tunisian partners in developing and implementing a national risk and crisis communication strategy. The strategy promotes target group-specific communication aimed at avoiding public panic and disseminating information during crisis situations about self-protective measures that can help contribute to overcoming the crisis.

In Morocco, the programme supported the Ministry of Health in setting up a national operations centre. In the event of health emergencies, experts can now rely on established and proven procedures for early detection and rapid response. In addition, awareness on biological threats was raised among more than 500 students, trainees and teaching staff from medical faculties throughout the country. This reduces the risk of the accidental or negligent introduction of potentially weapons-grade pathogens.