Transitional development assistance as a crisis management instrument

Project description

Title: Transitional development assistance (TDA) – assistance for people in crises, disasters and conflicts  
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Lead executing agency: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2016 to 2022

Übergangshilfe als Instrument der Krisenbewältigung. Fischerei im Tschad. © GIZ / Wohlmann


As the number of crises worldwide has increased in recent years, so too has their duration and intensity. Often, the crises strip poverty-afflicted sections of the population of their means of livelihood. In many cases, the people affected are unable to restore their livelihoods through their own efforts. At the same time, state structures are often weakened in crisis situations, and both their capacity and willingness to mitigate crisis impacts and to protect the population are restricted. Development progress that has already been achieved is jeopardised, and chronic poverty becomes entrenched.

As crises increasingly become more protracted and recurrent, there are calls for a radical change in thinking and new approaches on the part of the international donor community. There needs to be a greater focus on crisis prevention in future. The aim is to give people the prospect of a brighter future in their countries of origin and to reduce their dependence on external assistance. In order to achieve this, interventions by humanitarian players and development cooperation need to be coordinated and dovetailed more effectively. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is using transitional development assistance (TDA) to help reach these goals. 

In times of crisis and disaster, TDA is a way of providing the population with rapid support with a minimum of bureaucracy. The aim is to improve the socio-economic conditions in which people live and to enhance their resilience. In order to be able to respond directly to the needs of the people affected and boost their resilience, TDA is usually implemented at a local level, close to the relevant target group.

At the same time, it strengthens decentralised state and civil society structures, thereby developing the resources of both the population and government on a sustained basis. This enables crises to be mitigated, while the potential for new or recurring crises is reduced. Dependence on repeated, short-term humanitarian aid can thus be decreased. 

Longer-term developments are initiated in a fragile and volatile environment through institutional support for state and civil society structures, multi-sectoral approaches and physical and social reconstruction. TDA is therefore used in cases where human life has been preserved but where long-term development cooperation is (still) not possible on account of weak state structures and ongoing uncertainty and insecurity.


The quality of transitional development assistance as a crisis management instrument is improved and its profile is raised both nationally and internationally.

Übergangshilfe als Instrument der Krisenbewältigung. Training in alternativen Einkommensmöglichkeiten in Bangladesch. © GIZ / Ranak Martin


The project advises BMZ on improving the quality of transitional development assistance issues and raising its profile as an instrument at international and national level. The project team operates at the interface between humanitarian aid and long-term development cooperation. 

The focus of the project is on issues such as enhancing resilience, establishing a nexus, the sustainable impact of TDA as well as working in crisis situations. It also touches upon other topics such as peace and security, (forced) displacement and migration.

At the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, closer coordination between humanitarian aid and development cooperation was agreed on in an effort to strengthen the nexus between the areas of intervention. By providing TDA, Germany is the only country with an instrument that can fill the gap between humanitarian aid and development cooperation. Together with BMZ, the project team is developing proposals as to how the Ministry can consolidate this comparative area of advantage and position itself with the instrument. 

Another key duty of the project team is to advise BMZ on structuring cooperation arrangements with the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF.

The project team organises and holds information events and training courses for BMZ employees and the staff of implementing organisations. Among the topics covered are gender, the do no harm approach, results monitoring, cash-based transfers and food security. 

Übergangshilfe als Instrument der Krisenbewältigung. Unterricht in einer Mädchenschule in den Palästinensischen Gebieten. © GIZ / Britta Radike


The example below from Chad, one of the many different projects and interventions, outlines a measure that has proven effective:

Using agriculture and theatre to combat hunger and radicalisation

Conflicts, ethnic tensions, recurrent droughts and floods are all causes of hunger and poverty in Chad. Unemployment is prevalent among young men in particular, thus making them especially vulnerable to radicalisation by Islamist groups in neighbouring countries. 

In an attempt to improve their living conditions, BMZ and the European Union are jointly funding a project implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The focus of the project is on providing training courses on agriculture as well as on crafts and trades and the small business sector. Training, the distribution of seeds and the provision of tools have already helped more than 4,000 young people improve their income, while the construction of schools, health centres and wells creates the necessary basis for improved health and nutrition. A thousand young people have been actively involved in these latter measures, securing themselves a temporary income in the process. In order to prevent violent conflicts and radicalisation, the project also supports theatre productions, debates, sporting events and radio programmes, all of which are designed to raise awareness and provide information.