The objectives of the programme ‘Values, Religion and Development’ commissioned by BMZ are to increase the level of expertise in dealing with religious actors and issues (religious literacy) and to harness the potential of religion in order to make German development cooperation more effective.

A substantial majority of those who live in our partner countries consider themselves as belonging to a particular religion. We should therefore integrate religion more systematically into development cooperation as an important value-based resource. Potential risks such as the abuse of religion also need to be considered. GIZ collaborates with civil society and representatives of religious groups in three main areas:


1. Developing expertise

Under the auspices of the programme ‘Values, Religion and Development’, GIZ’s role is to provide BMZ with the support it needs to elaborate a conceptual and empirical framework that it can use to increase the religious literacy of sectoral staff and enhance their expertise in dealing with religious actors and issues. GIZ also draws up proposals for projects that can be implemented locally. One element of the programme involves reviewing and analysing successful activities in which religion has contributed to development. In a series of talks organised by BMZ under the title ‘Religion Matters – Rethinking the challenges of tomorrow’, leading figures are invited to discuss values, religion and sustainable development with representatives from politics, civil society and academia. Previous guests have included Dharam Singh Nihang Singh, a preeminent Sikh scholar, and Dr Milad Karimi, Guest Professor of Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism at the University of Münster.


2. Expanding cooperation

The programme is designed to strengthen national and international links between experts and cooperation partners. It also involves organising specialist international conferences together with the United Nations, the World Bank and other donors with a view to establishing a like-minded group. In Germany, the programme has established links to partners such as Islamic Relief, Brot für die Welt and Misereor with the aim of maintaining an ongoing dialogue.

3. Implementing pilot measures

Pilot measures are being implemented in various partner countries in response to GIZ’s proposals for local projects. The first of these is currently under preparation and will focus on reproductive health in Burundi.