The movie looks at the history of development cooperation since the 1960s and shows different poverty reduction strategies that were tried out over the course of the decades.


> Film (mov format 79 MB)




Poverty is defined differently in each country. To measure “relative poverty”, a person’s available income is compared to the average income of the society in which they live.

On the other hand “extreme poverty” or “absolute poverty” describes the situation of people who do not have enough financial means to cover the vital necessities of life. These people are living below the poverty line. More

Colonial era

The expeditions of the Portuguese to Africa and the Spanish to the Americas from the late 15th century onwards marked the beginning of the colonisation of the world by European states. Over the course of 500 years the European powers brought many areas of Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Oceania under their sovereignty. Their quest was to develop new settlements and new markets and thus extend their power. More

Development Aid

The inaugural speech by US President Harry S. Truman in 1949 is considered the hour of birth for development aid. Truman stated that half of the world’s population was living in poverty and pledged to free these people from poverty. According to him, for the first time in history humanity possessed the knowledge and technique to achieve this. The background, however, was not just the desire to help, but also the fact that poverty was seen as a threat for wealthy countries. Moreover, development aid was seen as an instrument to promote one’s ideology and to prevent communism from spreading. More

First, Second, Third World

In the 1950s a new world order emerged out of the debris of the Second World War. Two superpowers assumed control at the helm.

On one side stood the US, who together with their Allies constituted the First World. These were countries with a high living standard such as Australia, Argentina, South Korea and most Western European countries. More

Development through growth

In the 1960s it was believed that money could solve the problems faced by developing countries. Based on the assumption that underdevelopment was the result of a lack of capital, poor countries were supported through loans. More

Satisfying basic needs

As the strategy “development through economic growth” was unsuccessful, a new theory developed in the 1970s: it was presumed that growth would follow as soon as the basic needs of people were taken care of. More

Helping people help themselves

In 1992 the United Nations met in Rio de Janeiro at the Rio Conference for Environment and Development. At this conference the co-called “Agenda 21” was adopted, a developmental and environmental programme of action for the 21st century. The meeting marked, at least on paper, a fundamental rethink away from development aid and towards development cooperation. More

Millennium Development Goals

In 2000 at the Millennium Summit the United Nations took stock of a sad state of affairs: over a billion people were still living in extreme poverty, more than 700 million people did not have enough to eat, more than a 150 million primary school children were neither able to read nor write, over a billion people did not have access to clean drinking water, and more than two billion did not have the possibility to use sanitation. These disadvantaged people had hardly any chance to take part in social, economic and political processes. More

Sustainable Development Goals

The “Sustainable Development Goals” or “SDGs” were adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2015, with the aim of being implemented between 2016 and 2030. They include the ambitious proposition to end worldwide poverty and hunger and to combat climate change and its effects. The protection of ecosystems and the promotion of sustainable economic activity and growth are also a priority. More