Donor Profile


Last updated: November 19, 2023


ODA Spending

How much ODA does Germany contribute?

Germany was the second-largest donor country among members of the OECD DAC in 2021.

Germany is the fourth-largest donor in proportion to the size of its economy. The country spent 0.76% of its GNI on ODA in 2021, or 0.7% excluding in-country refugee costs. Germany is one of the few European countries that does not offset the costs associated with hosting refugees with cutbacks in funding for global development.

2022 preliminary figures show Germany's rankings stayed the same in both absolute and relative terms.

How is German ODA changing?

Driven by increased contributions to multilaterals, bilateral support for Ukraine and in-donor refugee costs, Germany's ODA rose to historic 0.83% of GNI in 2022, up from 0.76% in 2021. Germany's ODA levels have been elevated since 2020, initially by additional funding from its domestic COVID-19 supplementary budget.

2022 was the third year since 2016 that Germany has reached the 0.7% ODA/GNI target. The German government has committed to reaching the target but fell short in 2018 and 2019.

Total ODA increased by 8% between 2020 and 2021 in real terms, due to an increase in Germany’s bilateral and multilateral ODA spending to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and provide vaccine donations. The OECD DAC estimates total COVID-19-related ODA from Germany at US$3 billion in 2021.

After Germany’s ODA level reached record-high levels in 2020 and 2021, driven by Germany’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government expected ODA to decrease in 2022 to EUR23 billion ( US$27.2 billion) and EUR22.4 billion ( US$23.6 billion) in 2023, in line with a decreasing budget for the BMZ. However, the projections did not account for the unexpected influx of refugees from Ukraine, which will likely inflate ODA levels, as costs for receiving refugees in Germany are partially counted as ODA and financed from additional budgets.

Where is German ODA allocated?

The German government has a strong preference for bilateral funding. In 2021, bilateral funding accounted for 77% of total ODA, well above the DAC average of 59%. This includes earmarked funding through multilaterals. Germany’s preference for bilateral funding is driven by its two large government-owned implementing agencies, the GIZ and the KfW. Germany channels only 8% of its bilateral ODA through NGOs, about half the DAC average of 17%.

Germany channels the largest share of its bilateral ODA as grants totaling 81% in 2021, below the DAC average of 91%, with the remaining 19% disbursed as loans and equity investments, down from 25% in 2020. The responsibility for administering loans is assigned by the BMZ to the KfW. Most loans are provided in the energy sector to LMICs and UMICs.

Bilateral Spending

In response to the influx of asylum seekers to Germany since 2015, spending on humanitarian assistance and migration has increased significantly from pre-2015 levels. Even after a decrease since 2017, the cost of hosting refugees in Germany still accounted for the third-largest share of Germany’s bilateral funding in 2021. Due to the influx of refugees from Ukraine to Germany in 2022, Germany’s in-country refugee costs will likely increase again in 2022.

While education received the largest share of Germany’s bilateral ODA in 2021, more than US$2 billion, or 59%, represents costs for students from partner countries studying in Germany. A significant proportion of Germany’s bilateral ODA is spent within Germany and does not support partner countries directly.

Agriculture has been a priority for German development cooperation for several years, and funding to the agriculture sector has increased by 31% since 2017. However, the sector receives a relatively small share of bilateral ODA, only 5% in 2021. Additional ODA for agriculture comes from Germany’s contributions to multilateral organizations.

The portion of bilateral ODA going to LICs is relatively low compared to other DAC donors. Current spending also falls short of Germany’s ambition to spend 0.2% of ODA/GNI on LICs, which was reaffirmed in the 2021-2025 Coalition Agreement. In 2020, only 0.15% of GNI was spent on ODA to LICs.
Asia received the largest share of Germany’s bilateral ODA in 2021 (17%), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (16%) and the MENA region (15%).

ODA to Sub-Saharan Africa has steadily increased over the last years, from 12% of Germany’s bilateral ODA in 2017. As the German government increases its focus on fighting the root causes of migration in the Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, larger portions of ODA will likely go to these regions in the coming years.

Germany channels 36% of its bilateral ODA to MICs, with India, China, and the Syrian Arab Republic comprising the largest individual country recipients. However, most funding to India (70%) and about half of funding to China (45%) is provided in the form of loans or equity investments.

The top recipients of German grant funding are the Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, China, and Yemen. This is in line with the BMZ’s prioritization of partnerships within the MENA region.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Before 2013, the German Parliament had capped multilateral spending at one-third of total German ODA. Although this cap has since been lifted, core funding to multilaterals remains significantly lower than the DAC average of 41%. Like many EU Member States, the largest recipients of Germany’s multilateral funding in 2021 were EU Institutions. Germany is also among the largest donors to Gavi, the Global Fund, and UN agencies. In October 2023, at the Bonn Conference, Germany pledged an additional US$2.1 billion to the GCF.

Germany’s earmarked funding to multilaterals, which is channeled through multilateral development organizations for use in a specific sector or country, has increased significantly in recent years. The growth has largely been driven by Germany’s funding to UN agencies active in humanitarian assistance and crisis response.

Recent commitments to multilateral organizations are summarized below.

Politics & Priorities

What is the current state of German politics?

Germany is a parliamentary democratic republic. Political power is divided among three branches:

  • The legislature, which includes the Bundestag, or parliament, and the Bundesrat, the representative body for Germany’s regional states;
  • The executive branch, including the Head of Government, the Head of State, and the Cabinet; and
  • The judiciary, which is independent of the other branches.

There are elections for the Bundestag every four years. The political parties with the largest share of votes are the CDU, with its sister party, the CSU, and the SPD.

Olaf Scholz ( SPD) is the current chancellor and has been in office since December 2021. The SPD party won a plurality of seats in the Bundestag during the 2021 elections and formed a coalition with Alliance 90/The Greens and the FDP. The governing coalition is committed to an ODA quota of at least 0.7% of Germany’s GNI and plans to channel 0.2% of the country’s GNI to so-called LDCs.

Under the Chancellery, which is responsible for determining policy guidelines, the BMZ sets development priorities. Development Minister Svenja Schulze ( SPD) has led the BMZ since December 2021.

The BMZ is organized across six Directorates-General. The regional subdivisions allocate Germany’s bilateral development assistance according to the BMZ’s strategy and priorities. Sectoral subdivisions formulate Germany’s sector strategies, interface with multilateral development institutions, and advise on bilateral programs.

Germany’s two major state-owned development agencies, the GIZ and KfW operate under the political supervision of the BMZ. Both play key roles in policy development, priority setting, and implementation.

  • GIZ plans and executes Germany’s technical cooperation with partner countries. GIZ also provides consulting services to the BMZ’s sectoral divisions through its ‘sector initiatives,’ or Sektorvorhaben.
  • KfW leads on Germany’s bilateral financial cooperation with partner countries. It receives funding from the BMZ and raises its own funds on capital markets.

The BMF, led by Minister Christian Lindner ( FDP) develops caps for the federal budget and individual ministerial budgets. This makes it an important stakeholder when it comes to ODA levels, the BMZ’s budget, and long-term ODA contributions.

Who are the key individuals involved with German ODA?

Click for more details on each actor.

What are Germany's development priorities?

The government’s 2021-2025 Coalition Agreement lists the following development priorities:

  • Global Health, especially One Health and the fight against poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases;
  • Global health R&D;
  • Gender equality & SRHR;
  • Agriculture, Climate, and Social Protection; and
  • Multilateralism, Security, and strengthening relations with the African continent.

Since 2014, part of the BMZ’s budget has been channeled through ‘special initiatives’, programs spearheaded by the development minister. There are four special initiatives for 2023:

  • Transformation of agricultural and food systems;
  • Refugees and host countries;
  • Stability and development in the MENA region; and
  • Good employment for socially just change.

In December 2021, Svenja Schulze ( SPD) took office as the German Development Minister after serving as the Minister for the Environment under the last government from 2018-2021. Schulze focuses on implementing a feminist development policy, climate mitigation and loss and damage, and social security. Schulze also promotes the reform of the World Bank and a broader reform of the global financial architecture to better meet current needs, known under the Bridgetown Agenda. In 2022, her priorities were largely influenced by the war in Ukraine and its global effects, especially on food security.

The political discourse continues to be dominated by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and its domestic and international consequences. Three days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Scholz announced the Zeitenwende, meaning "turning-point," or "watershed," including far-reaching policy shifts for Germany such as the creation of a EUR100 billion ( US$118 billion) special fund for the military to invest more than 2% of GDP on defense.

Overall, the German government advocates for a holistic approach to human security and supports multilateral solutions. The government’s security policy focuses on a triad of foreign, defense, and development policies. The BMZ initiated a platform to strengthen Germany’s engagement in the reconstruction of Ukraine in March 2023 and has set up an emergency program for Ukraine with a volume of EUR652 million ( US$686 million) (as of February 2023), which is expected to be further expanded throughout 2023 to address the increasing need for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Under its latest G7 Presidency in 2022, Germany launched three initiatives:

  • The GAFS, which aims to increase funding for and coordinate international efforts for food security;
  • The G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness, a global network of health experts, aims to strengthen and align efforts for worldwide pandemic readiness; and
  • The Global Shield Against Climate Risk, which aims to scale up climate risk financing, improve climate resilience and preparedness, and promote the development of rapid solutions in the case of climate-related damages. The initiative is supported by the V20 was launched at COP27 in November 2022.

By issue

The BMZ has set out four focus areasfor its bilateral and multilateral development cooperation in 2023 and the following years:

1. Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, preparing for future pandemics by supporting:

  • Resilient health architecture;
  • Access to vaccines and medical supplies;
  • One health;
  • Primary health care; and
  • SRHR.

2. Eradicating poverty and hunger by:

  • Fighting the acute hunger crisis;
  • Fostering sustainable nutrition systems;
  • Limiting inequalities concerning the distribution of wealth, resources, and rights;
  • Building social security systems; and
  • Supporting vocational training and good jobs.

3. Supporting a just energy transition vis-a-vis:

  • Expansion of clean and safe energy;
  • Climate-just employment;
  • Social-ecological transformation of the economy;
  • Adaptation to climate change and loss and damage; and
  • Climate-friendly cities.

4. Establishing a feminist development policy that foregrounds:

  • Anchoring feminist principles and gender equality in nearly all (93%) of new BMZ’s programs by 2025;
  • Strengthening political, social, and economic participation and equitable access to resources; and
  • Promote gender mainstreaming in international and multilateral initiatives and institutions.

Global health is an important issue for Germany’s development policy and was highlighted in Germany's G7 and G20 presidencies in 2017 and 2022, respectively. In line with Germany’s strong international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic response and preparedness have been a focus since 2020. To this end, the BMZ established a new sub-division entitled Special initiative for pandemic and global health, pandemic prevention, One Health. Under Germany’s 2022 G7 presidency, a G7-Pact for Pandemic Readiness was initiated to strengthen and align efforts to bolster worldwide pandemic readiness.

Read more about Germany’s ODA to Global Health

Climate protection has been emphasized by the BMZ as a ‘cornerstone’ of German development policy and increased in focus in recent years. Within this sector, the BMZ focuses on supporting LMICs in climate change mitigation, especially through enhancing the energy transition in these countries. Germany entered into so-called ‘Just Energy Transition Partnerships’ with South Africa in 2021 and with Indonesia and Viet Nam in 2022. In 2023, Germany reported that it had exceeded its US$6 billion climate finance pledge two years ahead of schedule, and published multiple statements urging other donors to follow its example in paying their fair share of climate finance.

Read more about Germany’s ODA to Climate

Gender equality

German development minister Svenja Schulze ( SPD) set a feminist development policy as one of her main priorities when she took office in December 2021. Schulze prioritizes development projects that involve women on an equal footing wherever possible. In March 2023, the BMZ published a new strategy on feminist foreign policy. The strategy applies an intersectional approach specifically mentioning disabled people, Indigenous peoples, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Read more about Germany’s ODA to Gender Equality


Agriculture was one of the strategic priorities of former Development Minister Müller, who in 2014 launched ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger,’ a special Initiative on food and nutrition security and rural development. The special initiative, now called ‘Transformation of agricultural and food systems,’ has been carried into the 2021-2025 legislative period under the development minister Svenja Schulze.

Read more about Germany’s ODA related to Agriculture

ODA to education, in line with Germany’s ‘special initiative’ on vocational training and jobs, prioritizes higher education and vocational training. These objectives are mainly supported through bilateral development cooperation.

Read more about Germany’s ODA related to Education

By region

According to the BMZ’s partnership model, introduced by the BMZ 2030 Reform, bilateral partner countries are categorized by different partnership models. As of March 2023, the BMZ cooperates bilaterally with 65 countries. With its bilateral partners, the BMZ is pursuing a joint long-term development goal. Part of these countries are so-called ‘reform partners,’ or countries with a focus on reforms. Bilateral partner countries in the EU neighborhood focused on political and economic transformation are considered ‘transformation partners’. ‘Global partners’ is a category composed mainly of MICs, where cooperation focuses on cross-border issues, such as climate change. With ‘nexus and peace partners’, the BMZ aims to work on the causes of conflicts and flight and promote stability and peace.

North Africa and SSA: The German government's development approach across the African continent focuses on promoting economic development and the creation of jobs, digitalization, climate mitigation, and participation of women.

In January 2023, the BMZ published its new Africa Strategy, called Shaping the future with Africa. It is an update of the previous government’s strategy Marshall Plan with Africa, published under Minister Gerd Müller in January 2017. The updated strategy aims to supplement the development goals set by the AU and its member states, work together with African partners on the global transformation toward a decent and secure life for all in an intact environment, and to cooperate visibly and in solidarity with Africa in times of crisis.

The strategy focuses on six thematic priorities:

  • Sustainable economic development, employment, and prosperity;
  • Overcoming poverty and hunger and building social security;
  • Health and pandemic prevention;
  • Feminist development policy and gender equality;
  • Rule of law, democracy, human rights, and good governance; and
  • Peace and security.

Latin America and Caribbean: The collaboration of the BMZ in Latin America and the Caribbean is largely focused on climate and environmental protection, as well as supporting just energy transitions. Indigenous communities and women thereby play a central role, in line with the BMZ’s feminist development policy. Columbia, Brazil and Mexico were the largest recipients of Germany’s ODA in the region in 2021.

Asia: Even though the SSA and MENA regions are priorities for the BMZ, Germany allocates the largest shares of its bilateral ODA to Asia. In Asia, the BMZ works mostly with regionally influential MICs including China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The BMZ’s work in these countries seeks to address global issues such as climate change by leveraging their large populations, economic strength, and wealth of resources such as tropical forests, biodiversity, and commodities.


What are the main sources of Germany's ODA?

Germany’s ODA is sourced from the budgets of different ministries. The largest share of ODA comes from the BMZ. The second-largest share is the AA, which manages most of the funding for humanitarian assistance and UN peace missions. Slightly more than a quarter of ODA is split between a variety of other ministries, including the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, Ministry of the Interior and for Home Affairs (responsible for IDRC) and the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. The KfW, an implementing organization for the BMZ that provides financial support for LMICs, also manages a small portion of the ODA budget. A similarly small portion is managed by the Ministry of Health, which leads the government-wide strategy for global health, Global Health Security and pandemic preparedness policy and funds the WHO, WHO Hub, and ACT-A.

A November 2023 Constitutional Court ruling prohibited the German government from repurposing unused debt for future expenses. The verdict reinstated the so-called debt brake, a fiscal rule limiting additional governmental loans to 0.35% of GDP, meant to guarantee sustainable financing. The debt brake was suspended in 2020 due to extraordinary spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine. The reinstated debt brake also made the government's planned reallocation of unused emergency funds in 2023– originally designated for pandemic-related expenses and created through the suspension of the debt brake– to a climate and green energy initiative unconstitutional.

The court's decision left the German government with a significant budget shortfall, with EUR17 billion (US$18 billion) for 2024 alone. The final 2024 federal budget, while rising by 3.4% compared to 2023, cut the BMZ's funding to EUR11.2 billion (US$12.1 billion, or 2.35% of the federal budget), representing a -7.7% reduction compared to 2023 (EUR12.2 billion; US$13.2 billion, or 2.64% of the federal budget). The AA saw its budget decrease from EUR7.5 billion (US$8.1 billion) in 2023 to EUR6.7 billion (US$7.3 billion) in 2024, marking a -10.3% decline. Consequently, Germany is not expected to reach its 0.7% ODA/GNI target in 2024 for the first time since 2019.

Recent leaked directives from the BMZ revealed a 2025 budget ceiling of EUR9.9 billion (US$10.7 billion), significantly lower than the previously anticipated allocation of EUR10.3 billion (US$11.2 billion). The drastic reduction follows a trend of diminishing budgets for German development assistance, with allocations dropping from EUR12.16 billion (US$11.6 billion) in 2023 to EUR11.2 billion (US$12.1 billion) in 2024.

Read more about Germany’s 2024 Draft Budget

Read more about Germany’s 2024 Budget

How does Germany determine its ODA budget?

The German fiscal year corresponds to the calendar year.

The Donor Tracker team, along with many DAC donor countries, no longer uses the term "foreign aid". In the modern world, "foreign aid" is monodirectional and insufficient to describe the complex nature of global development work, which, when done right, involves the establishment of profound economic and cultural ties between partners.

We strongly prefer the term Official Development Assistance (ODA) and utilize specific terms such as grant funding, loans, private sector investment, etc., which provide a clearer picture of what is concretely occurring. “Foreign aid” will be referenced for accuracy when referring to specific policies that use the term. Read more in this Donor Tracker Insight.

Our Germany Experts

Kristin Laub

Kristin Laub