The development volunteer service weltwärts was launched in 2008 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to give young people aged between 18 and 28 years the opportunity to get involved in developing countries. The length of the voluntary service assignments ranges from 6 to 24 consecutive months and has three important aim dimensions:

- The partners: by participating in the program, the networking among partner organisations and with the German sending organisations is encouraged and strengthened. The partners and target group with which they work gain a better understanding of global contexts and the dependency of one‘s own life within the global context.

- The volunteers: they obtain qualifications for their personal development (e.g. foreign languages, intercultural skills), gain an insight into the vocational field of international co-operation and an understanding of the contexts and the dependency of one‘s own life within the global context.

- The German society: former volunteers get involved in their own country (non-governmental organisations, training, projects etc.), pass on their experience and become multipliers. Civil-society players in the development cooperation in Germany are strengthened.

Since the program was launched, more than 16.500 volunteers have been sent to over 80 countries all over the world. 42 % of the volunteers go to Latin America, 37 % to countries in Africa, 20 % to Asian countries, 2 % to Eastern Europe and less than 1% to Oceania. In 2012 more than 3200 volunteers were sent all around the world.

The most popular countries are South Africa (941 departures), India (795 departures) and Brazil (657 departures). The most important fields of work are the education sector (37%), working with children and youth work (33%), working with people with disabilities (6%), the health sector (6%), and the environmental and resource protection sector (5%).

The average length of placement is 12 months. 66 % of all volunteers are female. The average age is 20 years.Weltwärts is implemented through around 180 sending organisations, which select and identify placements in cooperation with their partner organisations and financed mainly from public funds. All suitable non-profit aid and sending agencies whose headquarters and center of operations are in Germany can send volunteers abroad. 

If you wish to receive a volunteer in your organization you may find further information regarding to possible sending agencies under http://www.weltwaerts.de/einsatzplaetze-nach-entsendeorganisationen.html

The volunteer service is to be open to as broad a cross-section of young people as possible. However, they will have to meet certain requirements in order to ensure that they are able to make a meaningful contribution as volunteers.

  • The volunteers must have passed their 18th and not yet reached their 29th birthday at the time of signing the pertinent agreements with the German sending agency.
  • They must be German citizens or non-German citizens who are permanently resident and have the right of residence in Germany.
  • They must be open-minded, eager to learn and team players who are interested in the culture and conditions in developing
  • They must either have completed a vocational training course after graduating from school at 15 or 16; or have graduated from secondary school at 18 or 19 having passed the school-leaving examination qualifying them to enter higher education; or have passed a similar school-leaving examination; or have a university degree; or they must offer other proof of their suitability for volunteer service, e.g. experience from doing alternative service.
  • They must have a good basic knowledge of a language spoken in the host country.

To ensure the success of their period as volunteers in a developing country, applicants will be prepared by the sending agency during an orientation and selection phase. The volunteers will work in projects run by local partner organisations in developing countries that are making an important contribution towards development. They will work full time (usually 40 hours a week) and will be completely integrated in the local organisations.

Possible sectors for assignments are the priority areas and sectors of German development policy (e.g. poverty reduction, education, health, environmental and resource protection, youth employment), provided that the particular project and the project environment are suitable for a volunteer service assignment.

In particular, the local project executing agency must have an expressed need for temporary volunteers with a clear timeframe and goals for the work to be done. The volunteers’ contribution must be valued; they must be given proper induction, work and support. Paid positions must not be replaced by volunteers.

The local partner organisations will make a substantial contribution by providing proper induction, work and support for the volunteers and work in close cooperation with the sending.

For more Information please visit the weltwärts-Website: www.weltwaerts.de


Weltwärts Logo

Going to India made me grow!

A Weltwärts volunteer talks about her time in Pondicherry

Luise Spieker talks about her experiences in India as a  ‘weltwärts’ volunteer.

Preserving the environment

A weltwärts volunteer Jonas Schulze at a programme in Maharashtra

Jonas Schulze did his eight-month voluntary service in the framework of the weltwärts-program at Ecumenical Sangam in Nagpur, Maharashtra, a partner of the German sending organization Indo-German Cooperation.