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Organisation and glossary


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Photo: Bo Simonsen, Danida

Danida is the term for Denmark’s development cooperation, an area of activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. You can read more about Danida here.

The Danish Board for International Development Cooperation advises the Minister for Development Cooperation. The Board discusses bilateral and multilateral allocations as well as proposals for new strategies and the like.

The Council for International Development Cooperation has approximately 60 members appointed by the Minister for Development Cooperation. The Council discusses topics in development policy and holds large-scale conferences focusing on current development policy issues.

Fighting Fraud 

Danida strives towards a high degree of openness concerning the use of Danish development assistance. This includes full openness about fraud and corruption with Danish assistance, which unfortunately occurs in spite of efforts to fight corruption.

On this site you can read about what Denmark does to prevent fraud and corruption and what we do when it nevertheless occurs. There is also information about the extent of the misuse of Danish development assistance and access to the information concerning suspicion of misuse that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs forwards to the National Audit Office.


Glossary of the different types of development assistance

Development cooperation includes many different types of assistance. The wide range of types and instruments of assistance ensures that Denmark is able to organise flexible, versatile development cooperation and play an active part in development policy in numerous contexts. At the same time, the various types of assistance can often complement each other to maximise their effect.

Bilateral and multilateral assistance

Bilateral assistance is the type of assistance granted for cooperation with authorities, civil society and institutions in the developing countries. Multilateral assistance, on the other hand, is channelled through international bodies such as UN organisations, the World Bank Group and the EU.

Danida Business Finance

The objective of the programme (formerly the Mixed Credits Programme) is to ensure financing for mainly large-scale public infrastructure projects that cannot be financed on market terms. This is achieved by offering interest free loans with a 10 year loan period, where interest, export credit premiums and other financial costs are financed through development assistance funds. By promoting access to financing by involving commercial partners, the programme can facilitate investments in infrastructure, thereby making a contribution to creating a better framework for economic growth and employment. The programme primarily finances Danish project supplies for development projects in credit worthy developing countries with a per capita GNI of a maximum of USD 3,180.

Budget support

When budget support is granted, the assistance is directly transferred to the Treasury of the recipient country to finance the country’s own development plan and poverty reduction strategy through the public budget. This means that the Danish funds are pooled with the country’s own funds, utilised through the country’s own financial systems, and managed by using the country’s own procedures for the administration of finances. This form of assistance furthers the country’s ownership of development, and at the same time the creation of expensive parallel structures is avoided. General budget support, which is support for the total budget, can be granted as well as so-called sector budget support, where the support goes to the development of a specific sector.

When the funds have been transferred, the Danish funds cannot be distinguished from other funds in the country’s budget. It is thus impossible to earmark Danish funds when this form of assistance is used. For this reason certain requirements are laid down for using budget support at all. These include criteria regarding good governance and measures to combat corruption, poverty reducing policies, sufficiently robust public financial management and a strong partnership between the country and the donors.

Budget support is granted as a total package that also includes dialogue about policy, reforms and resource distribution and about whether the public budgets reach the poorest. Budget support may be regarded as a contract in which disbursements from the donor countries are triggered by the fulfilment of a number of requirements and compliance with a number of jointly established goals. In addition, capacity building in terms of budget quality and financial management are most often supported. In the countries where Denmark grants budget support capacity building, not least for the promotion of a more efficient public administration and for enhanced efforts to fight corruption, always forms part of the support. This improves the capacity of public institutions for good financial management and administration.

Danida Business Partnerships

Danida Business Partnerships (DB Partnerships) comprises support for establishing commercially oriented partnerships between Danish companies and partners in the recipient countries – most frequently local enterprises but also NGOs, educational institutions and public authorities. DB Partnerships’ objective is to promote inclusive growth and employment in Danida’s priority countries with a view to safeguarding sustainable development and improved living conditions. This take place by strengthening and developing competitiveness and regional market development and through strengthening and developing value chains, in food production among other things. At the same time a priority is the development of innovative partnerships that contribute to the transfer of green technology and capacity building. Creating synergy in relation to the other development assistance activities in priority countries is likewise emphasized.

DB Partnerships replaces the former programmes Business-to-Business (B2B) and Innovative Partnerships for Development (IPD).

Humanitarian assistance

The Danish contributions to humanitarian assistance include acute assistance in connection with crises and disasters but also more long-term initiatives for the protection and lasting strengthening of living conditions among vulnerable population groups who are afflicted by wars, conflicts or natural disaster, not least refugees and the internally displaced. To a high degree humanitarian assistance is granted through international relief organisations and Danish NGOs. A number of international humanitarian organisations receive not only earmarked contributions for specific efforts but also core contributions that are not earmarked.

Assistance to NGOs

A considerable part of Danish assistance is channelled through NGOs. NGOs have some advantages in relation to other actors in development assistance cooperation. For example, they are well qualified to create international understanding and to strengthen popular support for development assistance in both the North and the South. At the same time, NGOs work closely with local organisations in the South, involving the target groups who are highly prioritised in Danish assistance and reinforcing the role of the local partners in civil society.

Transitional assistance

Transitional assistance may be granted for a period of time to developing countries undergoing a period of radical reorganisation or reconstruction, for example following economic liberalisation or armed conflict. Transitional assistance comprises provisional but multiannual initiatives.

Denmark seeks to organise it in such a way that it can be implemented without prolonged Danish assistance.

Personnel assistance

Personnel assistance takes the form of an offer to partners to provide technical assistance for capacity building. Advisers play a central role in sector programme support as contributors to the partner dialogue, as contributors of specific knowledge and experience, and as agents of Danish development assistance.

Project assistance

Project assistance is a temporary, organised effort aiming at achieving a defined goal. This may be, for example, support for building schools in a specific area.

Regional assistance

Efforts take place at regional level to promote regional cooperation and integration. Regional assistance  focuses on natural resource management and the environment, economic cooperation and integration, conflict prevention and conflict resolution, human rights and democracy and certain specific functional areas, for example within infrastructure.

Sector programme support

Since the mid-1990’s, bilateral assistance has been reorganised from project assistance to sector programme support. Sector programme support for priority countries is concentrated in 3- 4 sectors per country.

Sector support can take many forms. The form depends, for example, on the sector and recipient country involved and how well the country’s administrative system works (whether the necessary capacity is available locally).

This type of assistance most often presupposes that the recipient country either has or is in the process of preparing a national sector strategy. In the nature of the case, however, this is not always the case for broad sectors with many actors such as good governance or private sector development.

Danida’s support programme in a sector is long-term, typically lasting 15-20 years, and may include funds for both operations and investments.

In most cases, sectors are more traditional sectors such as agriculture, health care and education. However, as in Bolivia, the sector approach may also involve the status and development potential of the indigenous peoples, or a cross-cutting business sector programme as in Tanzania and Ghana.

Within the framework of a sector programme, Danida normally supports development and capacity building at multiple levels where the possibility exists for this. At the top level, it can for example support the development of national policies, strategies and action plans for activities in the sector.

At the intermediate levels in particular, for example in agencies and regions, support is provided for the enhancement of institutional capacity. This may involve the training and education of administrators and accounting officers, or it may take the form of support for administrative reforms, making the organisation better equipped to implement the sector plans.

An important part of sector programme support involves support for the implementation of concrete activities for the population in districts and municipalities. This may take the form of constructing health care clinics and establishing water supplies in poor rural areas, improving cultivation methods for small farmers, or developing secondary roads in areas with poor road connections.

Sector programmes are typically divided into so-called components each of which is aimed at tackling the selected institutions or themes in the sector that are regarded as especially important for the overall development of the sector. For example, one component can be aimed at strengthening the capacity of a sector to plan and formulate policy at central level, while other components may focus on strengthening local authorities in supplying services or advocacy by civil society.

At the core of a sector programme is the principle that the recipient country gains ownership of development programmes and activities. Ownership means that the recipient country has assumed or can assume responsibility for the organisation of the programmes and the implementation of the activities. It is also the intention that in the long term the recipient country should finance ever-increasing parts of the initiatives.

There may be eight to ten different donors in a sector. Sector programme support presupposes that the donors coordinate their activities and base them on the plans and strategies of the recipient country for a given sector.

Crosscutting initiatives in programme assistance

It is often a precondition for achieving positive, sustainable results through sector programme support that initiatives are implemented in advance or in parallel at macro level or within areas that cut across several sectors. Typical areas will be general budget support, the implementation of public sector reforms including decentralisation, activities for the promotion of democratisation, respect for human rights and good governance and the promotion of a favourable business climate.