Streetfight in Bethlehem


Security training
for KfW employees

KfW Group operates its own offices in almost 70 countries, including countries with high security risks for employees. KfW Stories presents eight examples of projects supported by KfW Development Bank in dangerous regions.

Number of KfW offices in high risk countries

When it comes to the issue of security abroad, it becomes particularly clear why KfW is not a typical bank. The banking group operates its own offices in nearly 70 countries. And KfW security experts rate 29 countries across the globe as so dangerous that people are required to attend special training courses before travelling there on behalf of the promotional bank. In this context, security does not just mean hedging against payment defaults. It also means protecting employees from attacks on their lives.

“Our colleagues should have the best support possible,” is the motto for Thomas Jehmlich, Director of Security Management at KfW. His team provides a comprehensive range of services to ensure this. “Everything starts by ranking a country with respect to the threat of terrorism, criminality and the risk of abduction on a scale from I to IV,” explains Mr Jehmlich. “Singapore, for example, is a relatively safe country at level I and countries like Afghanistan are at level IV.” Eleven countries are currently labelled level IV. But parts of 18 level III nations are considered to be at the same level — because individual areas are similarly dangerous due to regional conflicts.


In many countries, development cooperation is associated with risks for aid workers. In our dossier we describe where the dangers are.

More information

The training programme has different tiers according to the threat: anyone travelling abroad is supposed to visit a one-day basic seminar. Anyone who is dispatched to a Country Office visits an additional security course for one day. And if someone has to go to one of the 29 dangerous countries, a course in first aid under difficult conditions is also added so that those individuals can also ideally keep a wounded person alive for several hours. In the final four-day HEAT course — Hostile Environment Awareness Training — abductions in conditions that are as real as possible are also simulated. Thomas Jehmlich: “Luckily none of our KfW colleagues have ever been abducted.”

Ranger with elephant

Poaching in Congo

DR Congo Poachers slaughter elephants in national parks, eat the meat and make a profit from the ivory. The population of wild animals like rhinoceroses, eastern lowland gorillas or okapis is dwindling, not least due to marauding rebel groups. There are repeated deadly attacks on park managers and rangers in the national parks. The photo on the left shows gamekeeper Erik Mararv, who was shot by elephant poachers. Three of his colleagues died. KfW supports the management of six nature conservation areas, in part, in cooperation with the WWF. “The projects are not just about helping to protect species. They are also about providing more safety and better working conditions for the rangers,” says Karin Derflinger from KfW. Better ranger training, equipment and measures for protecting the animals in their natural environment are supported.

Karin Derflinger
"The projects are also about providing more safety and better working conditions for the rangers."

Karin Derflinger, Director KfW Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Teenager in Honduras

Criminal youth gangs in Central America

Central America Criminal youth gangs, known as “maras”, prevent peaceful community life in many cities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Gangs wage war against each other, with the murder rates among the highest in the world. The problem: many young people have no prospects and join criminal gangs. Since 2014, KfW has supported the CONVIVIR project, which provides young people with alternatives so they do not slip into criminality. “It is remarkable to see how young people develop when they are given the opportunity to do it,” said KfW employee Kathrin Gütschow.

Kathrin Gütschow, KfW
“It is remarkable to see how young people develop."

Kathrin Gütschow, Employee at the KfW Office for Central America in Honduras

School in Syria

Temporary schools in Syria

Syria Students’ lessons temporarily take place in an old barn. In Syria, where bombs are still falling, schools must be built and furnished so that as many children as possible can continue to have access to education despite the civil war and do not become a lost generation. To support the suffering population, KfW, acting as a trustee, set up the international Syria Recovery Trust Fund (SRTF) in 2013. This instrument is used to facilitate local projects for the population at 150 sites. “The commitment and perseverance of our local partners is admirable,” says Gunnar Wälzholz from KfW.

Gunnar Wälholz, KfW
“The commitment and perseverance of our local partners is admirable.”

Gunnar Wälzholz, KfW Director of Middle East Infrastructure and Reconstruction. There is currently no KfW Office in Syria.

Demonstration in Burundi

Turmoils in Burundi

Burundi Demonstrations, attempted coups and police violence: after the president sought a third term of office in 2015 despite legal restrictions, the security situation had deteriorated significantly. The KfW Office was temporarily relocated to the neighbouring country of Rwanda. “I was terribly afraid for my wife and my three children, who had to remain in the country for family reasons. They called me when shots were fired at night or people lay dead in the street,” Isidore Nzobambona says of the hard times he experienced when he was separated from his family for 20 months. He was able to return to Burundi this year.

Isidore Nzobambona
"I was terribly afraid for my wife and my three children."

Isidore Nzobambona, Director KfW Office in Burundi

South Sudan

Reconstruction in South Sudan

South Sudan Destroyed villages, mined roads und massive streams of refugees: five years after the country’s independence, civil war broke out again in 2016 — a humanitarian catastrophe. KfW is currently hardly able to work directly on the ground due to the tense security situation. Instead, it is involved through third parties like non-governmental organisations and the United Nations to rebuild the country with joint forces. “I am impressed that, after 30 years of war, people pull themselves up by their bootstraps time and again and believe in their country,” says Andreas Holtkotte from KfW.

Andreas Holtkotte
“I am impressed that, after 30 years of war, people pull themselves up by their bootstraps."

Andreas Holtkotte, Director KfW Office for the Horn of Africa region in Nairobi

A child in Nigeria receives Polio vaccination

Polio vaccination in Nigeria

Nigeria For the vaccination team, giving children in north-eastern Nigeria oral vaccinations against polio means risking their own lives in many cases. Especially due to the terrorist group Boko Haram, which is active there and has repeatedly made targeted attacks on health centres. Polio now only exists in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. KfW has supported the regional vaccination programme with EUR 116 million since 2005. “If the people who help administer the polio vaccine are able to eradicate the virus, that will benefit humanity,” says Julien Morel from KfW about their dangerous assignment.

Julien Morel
"If the polio vaccines are able to eradicate the virus, that will benefit humanity."

Julien Morel, KfW Project Manager for Nigeria in Frankfurt, Germany. There is currently no KfW Office in Nigeria.

Rain in Bangladesh

Flood protection in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Water is vital — sometimes it is also extremely dangerous, as it is for this boy in a refugee camp and his helpers. Floods destroy buildings and transform roads into rivers. Flooding — a dramatic consequence of climate change — means that many people live with danger to life and limb and risk losing everything they have. This is why KfW finances protective structures on pillars that serve as schools or market halls during everyday life and provide shelter in an emergency. “Infrastructure adapted to the climate is important for survival here and Bangladesh is a pioneer in the region for this reason,” says Regina Schneider from KfW.

Regina Schneider
“Infrastructure adapted to the climate is important for survival here."

Regina Schneider, Director KfW Office in Bangladesh

palace in Kabul destroyed by bombs

Infrastructure projects in northern Afghanistan

Afghanistan Sites destroyed by bombs in Kabul are part of dangerous everyday life. “An attack can happen anywhere at any time, and the risk of abduction is also very high,” says Andreas Schneider, Director KfW Office in Kabul, about the dangerous conditions for local experts and international consultants. For all that, KfW promotes many infrastructure projects in northern Afghanistan to continue helping the country.

Andreas Schneider, KfW
“An attack can happen anywhere at any time."

Andreas Schneider, Director KfW Office in Afghanistan

Map KfW development cooperation
Cover CHANCEN 2017

This article was published in CHANCEN autumn/winter 2017 "Mut".

To German edition


Published on KfW Stories: Tuesday, 12 December 2017


All United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda in 2015. At its heart is a list of 17 goals for sustainable development, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our world should become a place where people are able to live in peace with each other in ways that are ecologically compatible, socially just, and economically effective.