Quality and security matters
weltwärts is regularly assessed to monitor its attainment of the programme’s ambitious objectives, both in Germany and in our partner countries. The assessment takes the form of standardised volunteer surveys and independent evaluations and certification of the participating organisations.
weltwärts is effective
The objectives of the weltwärts volunteer service are based on Agenda 2030.
By taking part in weltwärts, the intention is that young people from Germany and our partner countries will develop enhanced global awareness and take action in line with the principle of solidarity and with the SDGs. weltwärts returnees act as “multipliers”, passing on the sustainable development message to those around them, and often continue to participate in civic engagement activities over the long term. In addition, weltwärts reinforces the international partnerships between civil society stakeholders in the programme. It is a programme that produces learning effects for everyone involved.
weltwärts’ impact is measured based on various factors
In 2017, DEval (German Institute for Development Evaluation) published a comprehensive study entitled “weltwärts volunteers and their civic engagement in Germany”. Almost ten years after the launch of the programme, the study took a detailed look at the North-South component of weltwärts, analysing its effects on volunteers and their civic engagement in Germany. The findings provide a particularly informative insight into volunteers’ personal development and how they affect society in Germany after their return from assignment. Some of the DEval recommendations have already been implemented. They include giving new definition to the profile of the volunteer service, adding information on aims and impacts in programme documents and establishing a monitoring and evaluation system.
“The South-North component of weltwärts” was the simple title of a study conducted by Syspons GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and published in 2017. Its subject was the South-North component, introduced three years earlier, which enables young people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Oceania to come to Germany to do voluntary service. According to the study, the component is adequately designed and the partners in all countries are equally involved. At the same time, it points out that differences in the way it is implemented make impact measurement difficult. The recommendations drawn up by the evaluation team were addressed in a thorough follow-up process, in which the programme objectives were defined more clearly and compared with the North-South component.
Surveys are conducted as part of the international conferences held several times per year for the participating volunteer service organisations. The aim is to obtain information about the development of the partnerships between the organisations. Another point of interest is the extent to which weltwärts plays a role in each organisation’s development. The data is presented to the Programme Steering Committee.
Roughly three months after their weltwärts assignments, all returnees are asked to rate the programme and how it has affected them. Aspects assessed include how their own behaviour and perceptions have changed as a result of weltwärts. For example, the findings regularly show that 90 percent of returnees feel more motivated to play an active role in society due to weltwärts.
The survey is carried out externally by uzbonn – Gesellschaft für empirische Sozialforschung und Evaluation and each year’s findings are published on the weltwärts website.
In order to detect longer-term changes in attitude brought about by participation in the weltwärts programme, a multi-year study is being conducted among former weltwärts participants, in which they are periodically invited to answer a set of questions. The results are compared with those of a control group that did not participate in weltwärts to identify trends in areas such as career, consumption and civic engagement.
This analysis is being performed by DEval, the German Institute for Development Evaluation, and the final report is scheduled for publication in mid-2022.
Quality auditing and development
weltwärts aims to constantly grow and improve. As part of this effort, quality standards for the volunteer service have been drawn up in recent years with the intention of ensuring equal quality of service for all participants. External certification institutes and Engagement Global conduct regular audits to monitor compliance with these standards. In addition, the implementing organisations have their own quality-improvement processes.
The weltwärts quality system
A number of the quality measures that make weltwärts so appealing as a volunteer service have been in place since 2013 and are constantly being evolved and enhanced. They include:
- Volunteer surveys
- Certification of all implementing organisations involved in the volunteer service
- Establishment of permanent quality-management bodies (quality associations, Engagement Global)
All implementing organisations that offer the opportunity to do a weltwärts volunteer assignment are required to be certified. This involves them having to document all their processes every two to three years and present them to experienced auditors. The latter review and assess the documents, conduct interviews with randomly selected volunteers and visit the organisation concerned to see for themselves how they work.
The certification mark issued to organisations that pass an audit can only be awarded by two specially authorised agencies: Quifd and RAL.
Approximately three months after the end of their voluntary service, returnees receive a detailed questionnaire to complete for the survey. In it, they are asked to rate their volunteer experience in terms of the education and mentoring provided, security aspects, their visa experiences, support from their organisation and other personal experiences. The data is compiled by uzbonn – Gesellschaft für empirische Sozialforschung und Evaluation - and the results compared with those of the previous year. The survey highlights where improvements are needed on the ground.
Engagement Global’s weltwärts Coordination Unit performs an approval process for all implementing organisations. This involves assessing their liquidity, non-profit character, educational capabilities and their general suitability to serve as weltwärts organisations. Implementing organisations cannot apply for funding until they have been successfully assessed. During the funding period, the weltwärts Coordination Unit assesses each measure to ensure that the certification and quality standards are met.
In addition, the weltwärts Coordination Unit supplies data for programme-steering processes, for example programme-wide data and statistics concerning the demographic make-up of the participants.
Our partners in quality and security matters
The BMZ and the Federal Foreign Office consult closely on visa and security issues and the latter’s security and travel warnings must be complied with by all weltwärts stakeholders. German participants register in the Federal Foreign Office’s crisis preparedness list (ELEFAND) during their international assignment so that they can be contacted by German diplomatic missions in the event of a crisis or other extraordinary circumstances.
weltwärts has its own contact points for visa and security matters in Argentina, Bolivia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Colombia, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The contact points provide a communication link to German authorities and those of our partner countries and to German diplomatic missions.
As part of its quality-management activities, Engagement Global’s weltwärts Coordination Unit analyses survey, evaluation and study findings, advises the BMZ and the Programme Steering Committee with regard to any necessary modifications and coordinates their implementation.
The weltwärts quality associations were set up as a way of enhancing quality-development support and advice for voluntary service organisations. Membership of one of the five associations is compulsory for all of the approximately 160 implementing organisations.
The quality associations provide training, information, networking opportunities and advice on all key weltwärts topics. In their role as representatives of implementing organisations, they also communicate and liaise with the BMZ and the weltwärts Coordination Unit.
Confidential matters can be addressed in writing to the ombudsperson at Engagement Global. The ombudsperson is an independent and neutral resource to whom individuals and organisations can turn for help. He or she is required to maintain confidentiality and acts as an advisor and mediator in conflict situations.