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About us


Strengthening social structures

Since the early 60’s the GermanFederal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development has demandedimprovement of social structures as an essential element of conceptualand practical development cooperation. The strengthening of socialstructures became an important instrument of the development politics,which shall satisfy the basic needs, reduce poverty and facilitate theinstitutional work. It benefits the majority of the society in everycountry, including the minorities and marginalised groups in theactivities.
The AGS operates worldwide with projects in Africa,Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Their aim is the development ofsocial structures in these regions. The projects are funded by theGerman Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. EachAGS member organisation has its own focus on particular regions andfields of work. These can be found in the rubric “countries”.

Specialist knowledge and Use

Thestructures developed by each of the AGS member organisations in Germanyare the basis of their international work. They assist with keepingspecialist knowledge up-to-date and enlarge it continuously. They offerpractical training opportunities for their partners. The AGS memberorganisations together offer a wide range of socially relevantinitiatives. Over the decades some member organisations have gainedconsiderable knowledge of community development, social work,cooperatives and other self-help organisations, micro creditorganisations and adult education. They have developed structures thatcan serve and speak for disadvantaged and at-risk groups in societysuch as the disabled, drug addicts, children and young people, theelderly, women and migrants. Other member organisations contributemedia skills and experience of researching and creating appropriatetechnologies. Together the organisations strengthen gender equalisation.
Social,cultural and economic circumstances in partner countries, which oftenvary greatly, call for a creative, joint approach to cooperation. Theindividual AGS member organisations work with the indigenouspopulations in the promotion of crafts and small businesses, throughself-help cooperatives, training for income generation and occupationalactivities, peace and human rights education, in rural savings and loanassociations, resource conservation and environmental education,ecologically sustainable agriculture, organisational development andthrough joint production of radio programmes.

The role of institutions in combating poverty

Combatingpoverty and impoverishment, and their effects on health, nutrition,social relationship, education, housing and political participation,has to mean starting with those structures which hinder development andcause poverty. It is not so much the lack of resources as inequality ofaccess which is the marker of disadvantage. Access to developmentresources is governed by institutions. Effective development policymust foster the strengthening of structures and institutions which mostdirectly affect the living conditions of the poor and can have apositive impact on them. This means involving broad sections of societyin the processes of change, fostering self-help and responsibilitythrough participatory approaches, and removing the causes andconsequences of social and economic disadvantage.

Safeguarding the future through development policy

Developmentpolicy and international cooperation help to provide a secure futureworldwide, both in industrialized countries and in countries intransition, and in developing threshold countries. The closeconnections between countries call for networked, sustainablesolutions. In the long run, one world demands both give and take, andnot just take. In the last decades, political upheavals, globalizationand new technological revolutions have brought about huge changes.These have not necessarily meant progress for the majority of poorcountries. There is a danger that globalisation will in fact increasesocial exclusion, or at any rate will not automatically eradicate it. Aglobal structural policy cannot therefore be divorced from the fightagainst poverty.