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Think tank for the Future

Searchers Unlimited - Welthungerhilfe's Think Tank

Next stop: Addis Ababa

Imagine for a moment that there was no development aid. But the world would be just as it is - with around one billion people suffering from hunger. Would we need to create Welthungerhilfe or Oxfam or Action Aid, would you invent it today? And if so, how should it be? Three years ago, on the occasion of our 50th birthday, Welthungerhilfe founded the think tank “Searchers Unlimited” to discuss interesting questions on the future like:

  • How can we reach more global justice?
  • What has gone wrong in the interaction between North and South? In what way can – and should – it be differently designed?
  • What is our perspective on development cooperation? And how can we build new cooperation models?
  • Do humanitarian aid organizations actually have the right approach? Or the right approach for today?
  • How does an economically sound and fair world of tomorrow look? How do we get there?

With the think tank "Searchers Unlimited" we want to open our minds to new perspectives and invited well-known sophisticated scholars as well as lateral and creative thinkers from different fields such as culture, sports, media, and economics. Three years and four meetings later, we wanted to enter into a next phase by broadening our point of view. So we gathered on a multinational level in order to include thinkers, movers and “shakers” from different African countries. The most recent think tank meeting took take place in Addis Ababa on February 16th and 17th 2015.

February 2015: Think Tank goes Africa

The aim was not so much to walk out with an activity plan, but more to gain input from renowned people from various fields of expertise. To us it is enlightening on a higher level and thus gives us food for thought on a strategic level. We asked for a critical feedback from experienced people and lateral thinkers who are not necessarily part of the aid sector. Topics of the meeting included:

  • What kind of solidarity are we looking for? - The development frames in our minds and the future of global (and mutual) solidarity
  • How do we want to earn our money in the future – agriculture, high-tech, services, industrial production?
  • Challenges and chances of migration

Who participated?

We are happy that the following personalities took part:

  • Betlehem Alemu, Ethiopia, Businesswoman, Founder of Sole Rebels
  • Bernice Dapaah, Ghana, Bright Generation, Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative
  • Anke Domscheit-Berg, Germany, Consultant, Digital Activist
  • Dr. Peter Eigen, Germany, Founder of Transparency International
  • Dr. Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Ghana, Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Ghana, Executive Director of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development
  • Dr. Hendrik Groth, Germany, Editor-in-Chief of the "Schwäbische Zeitung", former dpa-correspondent to various African countries
  • Prof. Dr. Lars Harden, Germany, Professor for Mass Media and Communication, Managing Director of a company dedicated to communication research
  • Alexander Herholz, Germany, Communication Consultant
  • Ato Sileshi Demissie, Ethiopia, Musician
  • Amelie Fried, Germany, Author and Journalist
  • Peter Probst, Germany, Screenwriter
  • Bahati Kanyamanza, Congo/Uganda, Coburwas International Youth Organization to transform Africa
  • Christina Kufer, Germany, Law Student at the University of Munich, works as a Journalist and for the Goethe Institute
  • Fambai Ngirande, Zimbabwe, Country Manager Zimbabwe of ICCO, Focus: Fair economic development
  • Rejoice Ngwenya, Zimbabwe, Writer, Political Activist, Expert on Zimbabwian economics
  • Prof. Dr. Francis Nyamnjoh, Cameroon, works in South Africa, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town; Novelist, Journalist, Playwright
  • Hans Rusinek, Germany, Student of International Relations at the London School of Economics
  • Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan, Germany, Professor for Political Sciences, founder of the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance Platform
  • Dr. Papa Sow, Senegal, Social Researcher, currently at the University of Bonn, focus: Population dynamics/ migration
  • Guy Wouete, Cameroon, lives in Belgium, Video-Artist and Painter

Welthungerhilfe was represented by Michael Hofmann, Executive Director Marketing), Mathias Mogge (Executive Director Programmes), Abaynah Demeke, Ursula Langkamp, Manfred Bischofsberger, Katrin Seegers (Advisory Committee) and Uli Post.

The meeting was moderated by Reyhana Masters, journalist and media activist from Zimbabwe and Markos Lemma, a techie and co-founder of iceaddis innovation hub in Addis Ababa from Ethiopia.

About the Searchers Unlimited Project

Welthungerhilfe’s mission is related not only to projects abroad but also to those within its own society. Our goal is not only to inform people about our work and ask for donations. We also want to provide orientation in a world that is growing more complex and at the same time more integrated. Development policy used to divide the world into “us” and “them.” In a new era, this division has become obsolete long time ago: We are speaking of world citizenship, an international domestic policy. Development policy relates in this way to the entire globe, not only to economically weaker countries. We all can and must develop. But how, and toward which goal? Answers to these fundamental questions require insight from the “outside,” a view from individuals who have special skills or experience in other fields or systems that, like development policy, appear to have reached their limits. From individuals who have the ability to convince and mobilize people beyond traditional pathways – individuals whose searching and flexible outlook allows new perspectives to open.

Past events - get informed:

From our blog

Searchers Unlimited participants share their thoughts

What image of Africa is conveyed in the German mass media? Can you make bikes from bamboo? How do we all benefit from migration?

5th Round – Think tank in Berlin

Up for discussion: How should we react to conflicts and humanitarian crises?

(November 2014) The participants of the think tank met once more in Berlin. Topics under discussion: conflicts and humanitarian crises.

4th Round- Joint think tank

Interesting questions on the future of our work

(Autumn 2013) Do we need to change from an aid organisation to a knowledge organisation? Will ‘help’ be shared to become ‘knowledge’? This question was discussed in the first part of the fourth – and...

3rd Round – Joint think tank

Young and old providing new impetus in the fight against hunger

(Autumn 2012) Creatives accepted the invitation of Welthungerhilfe to discuss fundamental questions and to meet participants of the ‘youth think tank’.

2nd Round: youth think tank

We are the present and not the future!

(August 2012) 20 young people came together at the Welthungerhilfe youth think tank.

1st think tank - Searchers Unlimited

Lateral thinkers from culture, media, economics and sport

(February 2012) Lateral thinkers from culture, media, economics and sport discussed the challenges for the work of Welthungerhilfe.

MOVE! United for sustainable development

International symposium on sustainability

(April 2012) Many questions were discussed at the international symposium MOVE! in April 2012.



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Download the following documents:

Projects in Ethiopia: Access to drinking water and sanitary facilities

Clean water for Ethiopia

Project in Arsi Negele (report in German)

Project in Arsi Negele:

Community empowerment ensures effective WASH services (report in English)