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close this bookGATE - 1/94 - Hospital Technology: A Problem Case (GTZ GATE, 1994, 64 p.)
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International Symposium "PTD - Innovation Through Dialogue"
Amsterdam - Questions about "Participatory Technology Development" (PTD) were highlighted at an international symposium held in Amsterdam in December 1993. After a week-long workshop, participants from the North and the South presented their experience with this new concept for better dissemination of appropriate technologies to more than 100 participants. During the workshop the results of a study on PTD by Julie van der Bliek and Laurens van Veldhuizen (cf. gate 3/93) were discussed.

The study was initiated by the seven appropriate technology organizations ATOL (Belgium), GATE (Germany), GRET (France), ITDG (UK), SKAT (Switzerland) and TOOL (The Netherlands).

The PTD concept, which was introduced by the sustainable agriculture movement, provides a systematic approach for choosing and developing an appropriate technology to solve a specific technology-related problem.

The concept makes the interests of the producer and the user the centre of attention. It is claimed that by using PTD the technology introduced and developed will be more appropriate. The concept can be used not only for very simple technologies, but also for complex and sophisticated ones.

"PTD approaches technology development in a completely different way and gives us an opportunity to remedy past mistakes," said Prianti Fernando, Director of ITDG in Sri Lanka.

She characterized the key element of the participatory concept as "mutual respect" and continued: "1 think we need to accept that different people think and act in different ways. We should break down the barriers between different knowledge systems. It's often only the language that differs."

Sarah Nalumansi, from an NGO in Uganda, stressed that PTD was an interactive process. "It emphasizes local knowledge, resources and conditions", she added. Professor Heinz Wolf of Brunel University in Anglia (UK), said that "language is the first problem with technology". The introduction of a technology "must go hand in hand with getting the language right, otherwise you cannot understand it and integrate it into your life", he added.

Wolf defined participation as having access to another's thinking, brain and understanding. «The trick in popularizing technology lies in the trick of teaching", he stated. "It is much easier to explain quite complex technical or scientific facts by using what people know in order to explain what they don't know.

This implies drawing examples from the environment within which the society and people live and understand."

Joske Brunders, Professor in the Faculty of Biotechnology at the Free University of Amsterdam, suggested learning from industry how to create an enabling environment to change policies and institutions.

Reporting on a biotechnological research project in Tanzania, she said this was the strategy that had been applied. "We identified a motivated core group, brought them together in a team, let them formulate a programme and all worked together closely with the user in the field. In the end we felt that it was indeed possible to bring about a change within institutions as well."

She advocated building on the local capacities of people and linking them with the local power structures. "It is not enough only to look at local knowledge, it must be linked from the beginning with mainstream activities", she said.

A report on the symposium will be available from TOOL, Sarphatistraat 650, NL-1018 AV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Fax: (+31)206277489

Animal Traction Data Base

Witzenhausen - The Department of Agro-engineering at Kassel University now has a data base on the use of animal traction in agriculture. Based on Paul Starkey's "antrac" data base, which contains 1341 documents, it has been expanded to include a total of 2034 documents.
The subject areas range from the history of draught animal use, through harness technology and information on specific implements, to water pumping, tilling methods, transport and gins. The Witzenhausen documentation on gins, the stationary use of draught animals, is particularly extensive.

Also included in the data base are publications on research, measuring methods and types of draught animals. Periodicals from various countries, catalogues, videos, slides and a large body of"grey literature" complete the data base. Documents may be accessed using the key words in the UNESCO program ISIS, Version 3.0.

For further information contact: UniversitGesamthochschule Kassel
Attn. Christian Schellert
Fachbereich Landwirtschaft, Internationale Agrarwirtschaft und Okologische Umweltsicherung

Fachgebiet Agrartechnik an tropischen und subtropischen Standorten
Nordbahnhofstr. La
D-37213 Witzenhausen
Tel: (+49) 5542981218 and 5542 981224
Fax:(+49) 5542981520

Crisis in Cuba: An Opening for Ecologically and Socially Matched Strategies?

Frankfurt - At conferences held by development aid organizations in Berlin, Bonn and Hannover during the past few weeks, attention focused on the impact of Cuba's economic crisis on the environmeet, energy supplies, agriculture and tourism, and the resulting opportunities and room for manouevre. It became clear that despite continuing political reservations, governmental, non-governmental and denominational development aid organizations are now discussing the Socialist state in the Caribbean more openly. Cuba itself was represented by of ficials of its national energy commission anc some non-governmental environmental organizations.

In addition to cautious political reform favouring decentralization and moves towards a market economy brought about by the end of Russian aid, there is evidence in Cuba for a "rediscovery" of local resources and production potentials. Appropriate technology options, which do not involve any major imports of materials or equipment, have captured the attention of Cuban economists and of Technical Cooperation. In view of the highly skilled working population and the much smaller class differences than in other countries, the crisis IS In tact an opportunity for constructive development of Cuban society, it was claimed at the conferences.

Between 1989 and 1992, Cuba's gross domestic product (GDP) slumped by about 30%, while imports plummeted 70%. Like some countries in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Cuba is in danger of reverting to the status of a classic developing country. This is primarily because it is almost completely cut off from international know-how, besides suffering from a chronic shortage of foreign currency and a de facto enforced isolation from world markets.

Due to the fall in oil imports to a quarter of 1989 levels, the economy went into a decline, only regaining some stability at the end of 1993. Unlike the situation in Third World countries which have never known generous supplies of fossil fuel, the energy shortage in Cuba is felt by everyone, due to the country's level of development and the existing industrial, agricultural and domestic infrastructure.

This is why it is now vitally important in Cuba to save energy, utilize renewable forms of energy, and preserve existing know-how and potentials for independent agricultural production and self-sufficiency, as well as exploiting natural resources. Based on many years of experience and research in agrobiology and big-engineering, the "ecological three it's" - reuse, reduce and recycle - are increasingly being applied.

In this context it is only of secondary importance that the ecological efforts of grassroots organizations, church groups and government agencies have grown out of the lack of alternatives in the present situation. The key factor, it was pointed out at the conferences, is the tremendous willingness to promote the utilization of lastingly eco-compatible economic reforms, production processes and renewable forms of energy. Considering that countries all around the world are proving extremely slow to implement the resolutions passed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, it would be counterproductive not to use and support this opportunity and willingness.

Even prior to the phase of safeguarding the country's supplies of essential commodities under adverse conditions - the Periodo Especial Cuba built a series of decentralized small hydro-power plants and began manufacturing its own solar panels. There is also evidence that serious efforts are being made with regard to the utilization of biomass (principally bagasse), natural gas and biogas.

What hundreds of communities and climate action groups failed to do in Germany, i.e. reduce road traffic emission levels, was achieved in Cuba overnight - due to the crisis: medium-sized towns like Cardenas now manage entirely without motorized private transport. Carriages, bicycles and horse-drawn carts are meanwhile typical sights. Buses are now only used on inter-city routes.

To make up for the lack of agricultural and commercial vehicles, for example, over 100,000 extra oxen and horses have been put to work in transport applications in recent years. A number of environmental NGOs have made it their declared aim to exploit this as an opportunity for an ecologically more acceptable transport concept.

But it was emphasized at the conferences that no one has a patent remedy for economic and ecological restructuring in developing countries in general, and Cuba in particular. Church development aid organizations in Germany, e.g. the government-subsidized Protestant Development Aid Agency (EZE), as well as government agencies are looking at programmes which question the traditional supply mentality, promote efficient organizational structures for economic exploitation of scarce resources and adequately involve the population.

There was also broad agreement that political repression cannot be the central issue in the debate about aid to Cuba. Taking the island's geographical surroundings as a yardstick for comparison only made this all the more true, it was noted.

Moderate voices representing several camps, not hoping for any violent upheaval in Cuban society, were in the majority. Instead, it is believed, a peaceful evolution should take place, safeguarding the impressive social achievements - in education, health care and satisfying basic needs. The view at the conferences was that a horrific end comparable to the terrible situation in Haiti could not be in the interests of Cuba's population.

Hartlieb Euler

NGOs Present "Election Charter"

Bonn - Seven German development aid and environmental organizations have joined forces to publish an "Election Charter '94" urging the political parties to implement the resolutions passed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

The charter has been published in time for numerous upcoming state and local government elections, as well as elections to the German Bundestag and the European Parliament, all due this year. It aims to help voters understand political relationships and put critical questions to politicians.

Besides implementation of the Rio resolutions, the seven NGOs are demanding a reform of GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) in line with social and ecological criteria, the passing of legislation on immigration and the creation of better living conditions for refugees, as well as a reduction in expenditure on armaments and a tightening-up of controls on arms exports.

Angelika Zahrnt, of Bund Umwelt und Naturschutz in Deutschland (BUND), a 200,000-strong environmentalist organization, believes the election campaign should be used to launch a debate on whether a "sustainable Germany" should be aimed for.

According to Ms Zahrnt, this entails an economic system and way of life which would preserve the chances of survival for the whole of humanity, both today and in the future.

Other organizations participating in the campaign include the North-South action group Germanwatch and the children's charity terre des hommes.

BMZ Concept for East European Countries

Bonn - In this year's budget for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), totalling about DM 8 billion, approximately DM 290 million has been earmarked for developing democratic and market economic structures in central and eastern Europe and in countries which were formerly members of the Soviet Union.

Presenting his outline policy for the "new democracies", Germany's development minister Carl-Dieter Spranger stressed that a far-reaching change of awareness was needed in the countries concerned, and that the roles of government and society would have to be redefined.

In this respect the problems of former Soviet bloc countries and those of the Southern countries were similar, said Mr Spranger.

In the ministry's view, key areas of development cooperation include the promotion of pluralistic structures, development of self-help institutions, advice on privatization, establishing marketing structures and building up a financial system, transferring management know-how and ecological knowledge, and building up social security systems.

The five criteria established for cooperation with developing countries will also be applied to the new democracies in the East: the human rights situation, participation of the population, stability of the law, development of the economic and social order and development-oriented government action.

The people of eastern Europe had suffered from governments with too much power, the minister pointed out.

"We must cooperate with groups in society and support the formation of additional independent groups," he said. "Pluralism is not only a goal, it is also a means of cooperation."