THE BLOG
10/14/2013 10:23 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Germany's Contribution to Development: Let's Grow the Conversation

A big congratulations to the Huffington Post team on the launch of Huffington Post Germany. Moments like this provide an opportunity to throw light on the power of news media to influence political outcomes and create global change.

One area where I hope we will see more conversation is around development.

We know the incredible generosity of German people towards the developing world. Recent studies show that 54% of Germans believe that it is "very important to help people in developing countries."

Yet these issues are covered in the media less and less, and when they are covered the message is often negative -- stories of crises, disasters, deaths and corruption, rather than of developing nations making progress every day, developing the infrastructure, services and tools they need to support themselves over the long-term.

Why is this coverage so important? It's because today more than ever we need media to keep development in the spotlight.

Germany is the second largest European government donor to overseas development aid, spending 0.38% of its GNI on official development assistance in 2012.

And yet 0.38% is still a long distance off the 0.7% Germany and other EU countries have promised to spend on development aid by 2015, and it's critical that the conversation on the importance of this funding continues.

Take one example -- recent progress on malaria. The distribution of low-cost, insecticide-treated bed nets has helped reduce malaria-related death in Africa by 33% in the past decade, saving more than a million lives. In 2000, only 3 percent of African households slept under a bed net. Today more than half of all African families have access to nets, which cost less than $10 each.

This achievement was made possible by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an organization that Germany helped to create. But still more needs to be done.

I wonder, when you think of malaria what do you picture? Do you see a mosquito? Do you see a bed net? Do you see a sick child?

Or do you see a happy, healthy child that has had access to all of the tools that are available today to prevent that deadly disease? Because that perception is important. Because if you see the happy, healthy child, you believe that we can make progress on development, and when people see good progress they see good investments.

These are the types of stories that need to be told and German media outlets like this one and others play a vital role in driving the conversation.

If we're going to be successful in solving huge and challenging global problems, then informing, engaging and inspiring people on these issues is going to be absolutely essential.

I hope this is just the beginning of growing the conversation here in Germany.

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