Poverty reduction

Against poverty – for better chances in life

There has been a considerable reduction in poverty over the past few decades. Between 1990 and 2008, the proportion of people living on less than 1.25 dollars a day dropped from 47 to 24 per cent. Nevertheless, there are still 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty.

Poverty has many dimensions: it does not just mean having little money. Poverty means having fewer opportunities in life. Poverty makes people vulnerable to risks. Poor people are deprived of human dignity and human rights. To quote Mahatma Gandhi: ‘Poverty is the worst form of violence.’

Some of these aspects, such as a lack of income, of access to education and of environmental protection, are part of the Millennium Development Goals, to which the German Government has also committed itself. By launching its strategy ‘Fighting Poverty More Effectively – Worldwide’, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has reaffirmed that the eradication of extreme poverty is the core task of German development cooperation.

At GIZ, we see poverty reduction as a cross-cutting task. Success, in the form of sustainable economic growth, the fair distribution of resources, good governance and hence less social inequality, can only be achieved through coordinated activities by all stakeholders at local, national and international level.

On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) we provide support in implementing national strategies to reduce poverty and eliminate social inequality. In addition, we provide advice on embedding poverty reduction in the design of international development processes and agreements.

More about Poverty Reduction


The Millennium Development Goals

Sharing responsibility for eradicating poverty worldwide forms the core of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are based on the Millennium Declaration, which was adopted at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York in 2000. Through the eight MDGs, the international community for the first time set itself quantitative, and thus, verifiable, targets in the fight against poverty.

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Global partnership for development.

These specific goals, based on a broad international consensus, have won huge public support worldwide. To ensure that MDG realisation is aligned with the relevant national and local conditions, countries are continuing to develop national strategies for poverty reduction, growth and development. GIZ is advising its cooperation partners in designing and implementing these strategies.

The target date for achieving the MDGs – 2015 – is fast approaching. The results are likely to be mixed, however. The proportion of people living in (monetary) poverty and without access to drinking water has been halved, for instance. On the other hand, the targets for reducing hunger and improving access to decent employment are not being met. Moreover, the international community faces new global challenges. These include population growth, migration flows, the impacts of climate change and social inequality.


The post-2015 agenda for sustainable development

In 2010, the international community tasked the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, to develop a follow-up agenda to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At the global level the process of designing a new post-2015 agenda is being led by the United Nations. To involve as many people as possible in the discussion, the United Nations have launched a broad consultative process involving a total of 11 global, regional and 100 national consultations.

For this, Ban Ki-moon has convened a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post‐2015 Development Agenda. The former German Federal President, Dr. Horst Köhler, is a member of this Panel. In May 2013 he submitted to the Secretary-General proposals for a development and sustainability agenda that are being fed into the consultation process.

Parallel to these activities to develop the post-2015 agenda, in 2012, an Open Working Group (OWG) comprising representatives of 30 states was launched in Rio de Janeiro. The OWG will draw up proposals for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The challenge lies in merging the post-MDG agenda with the SDG agenda.

The range of themes for a post-2015 agenda currently remains very broad. Many argue that the SDGs should incorporate the three dimensions of sustainability (social, economic and environmental), and focus on reducing poverty. The UN Secretary-General has called for a post-2015 agenda to also include issues such as inequality, ecological sustainability, human rights and good governance. In the opinion of the international community, these topics are not reflected to a sufficient degree in the MDGs.


Sustainable poverty reduction in the work of GIZ

The German Government orients its policies toward the guiding principle of sustainable development. Alleviating poverty always remains a core objective of German development cooperation – a fact that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) emphasises once again in its cross-sectoral strategy on poverty reduction, entitled ‘Fighting poverty more effectively – worldwide’.

Global sustainable development can only be achieved if poverty is reduced effectively and permanently. This makes poverty reduction one of the core tasks of international and German development policy.

GIZ implements the German Government’s vision. Effective poverty reduction begins with a social consensus and a political will. But it also always entails shaping policy debates on power and social issues together with our partner countries, our commissioning parties and the international donor community.

For all measures, developing countries themselves bear the primary responsibility for their own development. Donors support them in achieving this. Together with their partners, our projects and programmes aim to change conditions and build enabling frameworks, giving poor sections of the population more opportunity to participate in social and economic developments through their own efforts. Human rights play a key role in this: poverty reduction and the promotion of human rights are mutually reinforcing. Many of the Millennium Development Goals aim to directly realise human rights, such as the right to food and the right to education.


Dr. Ute Böttcher

Advisory and service portfolio

Here you will find an overview of the technical and methodological services we offer.


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