Head of GTZ pays first-ever visit to Yemen for energy talks [Archives:2008/1137/Local News]

March 13 2008

By: Sarah Wolff
SANA'A, March 11 ) The director of GTZ, a German government-run international development agency, came to visit Yemen this week to discuss ongoing cooperation between the German and Yemeni governments.

GTZ, which stands for the German Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit), has been partnering with cooperating governments in developing countries since 1975.

GTZ currently has a variety of programs in Yemen, including a particularly significant partnership with the Ministry of Energy. The two organizations are working to find renewable energy sources for Yemen, particularly solar and wind power. Other programs include decentralization projects within the government and a water sanitation plan, among others.

Additionally, the German Embassy hosted an event for Wolfgang Schmitt, one of GTZ's two managing directors, to celebrate Schmitt's first visit to Yemen. GTZ partners with governments in 70 nations to help develop infrastructure by partnering with local experts and leaders.

“It's the first time for a managing director of GTZ to visit Yemen,” Schmitt noted, explaining, “This is a field visit to learn more about our operations, but the most important thing is to get firsthand information from our counterpart institutions here.”

Annually, GTZ donates 10 million Euros to Yemeni development projects, specifically focusing on infrastructure and policymaking. However, a precondition for this aid is that the Yemeni government first must request help from the German government. GTZ currently is working in conjunction with Yemen's Ministries of Energy, Water and Planning.

Members of Yemen's ministerial vanguard also attended the reception for Schmitt, including Water Minister Abdul-Rahman Al-Eryani and employees of GTZ and the Center for International Migration and Development, or CIM, a subsidiary corporation providing staff for GTZ joint projects.

One such employee is reproductive health specialist Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt, who runs a program teaching midwives in Al-Mahwit governorate proper birthing and neo-natal care techniques.

As she explained, “The Yemeni-German reproductive health program is working at health facilities that wish to improve the quality of clinical care they offer, providing input on reproductive health, hygiene and management matters.”

GTZ and its subsidiary CIM work to implement development policies slowly while using the least possible amount of foreign interference in order to get the job done.

“What's unique is that our people – German citizens – become part of our partners' teams, so it's very much integrated,” says CIM managing director Oliver Auge, adding, “They build up trust, they speak Arabic and after a while, they really are part of the team, but yet they still have this German mindset, which is exactly what our partners in more than 70 countries like, including those here in Yemen.” GTZ is discussing other new projects with members of the Yemeni government now, but Schmitt declined to discuss their specifics, noting that GTZ will announce the projects once the details are finalized.