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close this bookGATE - 4/95 - Bridging the gap - NGO's in Latin America (GTZ GATE, 1995, 48 p.)
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AT activities

AT Forum and Latin-American NGOs begin to cooperate more closely

Barbosa/Rheine - "The beginning of closer cooperation between the AT Forum NGO-GTZ and Latin American NGOs" was the conclusion drawn by participants of an international seminar on "Post-harvest methods as a motor for rural development" which took place at the beginning of May this year at Barbosa, Colombia.

The seminar was organised by the NGO Podion, the Colombian counterpart of the German Catholic Bishops' Organization for Development Cooperation, Misereor, which had initiated the workshop together with other members of the AT Forum NGO-GTZ (see «gate" 3/94, p.57). The seminar was attended by Latin American partners of these organizations from projects in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The Latin Americans expressed the wish that, in the light of Latin America's positive experiences m further processing agricultural produce, German development organizations should intensify their promotion, dissemination and networking of such activities. The seminar participants analysed the weakpoints m ongoing projects and drew up guidelines and recommendations as an orientation for new projects. The need to clearly address the living conditions of the target groups was repeated time and again:

· The project idea should generate from the grassroots, so that the participating community continues to identify with the project.

· Sustainability and resource conservation are to be the principles guiding the processing of agricultural produce (e.g. diversification in production, organic farming, use of indigenous knowledge and resources).

· The technology must ensure rational use of energy, provide appropriate working conditions for the population, promote their creativity and be geared to achieving profit in a foreseeable time-frame.


· The produce should chiefly target the local and regional markets.

· Simple processing steps should be distributed over several small service companies in order to simplify administration, create local employment opportunities and supply the local population with foodstuffs.

· Marketing cycles should be shortened so that the products remain in the hand of the campesinos right through to the final user. This direct relationship between producers and end-users will ensure that supply can rapidly adapt to demand.

· The organization processes started up in the population should not be limited to processing harvest products but also to other economic, social and political areas so that these promote local and regional development.

" Well prepared, varied programme, interesting resource persons ...» were the words used to praise the seminar on Post Harvest Methods in Colombia during the recent meeting of the AT Forum NGO-GTZ at the beginning of November in Rheine. The Forum's Arbeitsgemeinschaft " Fachberatungsdienstein Entwicklungslandern", who initiated the seminar resolved to continue and extend its activities.

The meetings should be an exchange of experience focusing on post harvest handling of selected products, e.g. processing of soya, cassava, rice and fruit, flour milling, waste avoidance and waste treatment. The proposals put forward at the meeting encouraged intensified contacts to competent partner organizations by means of visits, attachments and holding onsite seminars. A documentation is planned on the present state of the art and on the seminars held, monitoring their results and impacts.

All organizations in the AT Forum are called upon to join in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft's activities. To date, Bread for the World, the Protestant Association for Cooperation and Development, EZE, GTZ/

GATE, the German Development Service DED and the German Bishops' Organisation for Development Cooperation, Misereor have signalled their interest.

Note: The detailed seminar report and results (in Spanish) can be obtained from Podion Calle 54 No. 10 - 81 Piso 6 A. A. 58973 Santafe de BogotColombia Tel. 235 55 96/235 2632/ 235 42 49/235 41 43/2489197 Fax: 235 38 93


INDIX - Sharing information for development

Ottawa - The International Network for Development Information Exchange (INDIX) is dedicated to furthering the exchange of information within the development assistance community. INDIX is a coalition of development assistance organizations including bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental or ganizations. Its activities are managed by the Coordinating Unit for INDIX , housed at the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. A Steering Committee, composed of representatives from several development assistance orgamzations oversees its activities, which include:

· developing tools for information sharing such as the DAI (Development Assistance Information) CDROM and the Common Exchange Format for Development Activities;

· funding and coordinating studies which address problems facing the exchange of development information;

· furthering awareness of development information that is available for exchange; and

· encouraging the participation of development assistance organizations (including NGOs) in both the North and the South in sharing development information.

For more information contact:
Coordinating Unit for INDIX
c/o International Development Research Centre
P. O. Box 8500
Ottawa, ON
K1 G 3H9
Fax. +1- 613 - 563 - 38 58
e-mail: indix@ idrc. ca

Austria: Development Cooperation in crisis

Vienna -Working relations in a spirit of partnership and a secure financial budget are the demands made by the Austrian Working Association for Development Cooperation AGEZ in a memorandum it sent to Federal Chancellor Vranitzky, to politicians of all parliamentary parties and the officials at the Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs.

The 24-member organisation AGEZ stated that "Cooperation between the government and non- governmental organizations has reached a degree of uncertainty in 1995 which could no longer be accepted, neither by our partners in the South nor in the orgamsations in Austria. The unbearable crises had been caused primarily by bud get cuts and the "tedious processes of government administration", is how the Working Association's memorandum put it.

As Austria does not have a government - owned organisation to implement bilateral development cooperation, 60% of the project funds flow via NGOs and 40% via private companies and international organizations. After Austria joined the European Union in 1994, the Government cut the budget from one billion Austrian Shillings (ATS) to 680 million, stating that the bilateral assistance was reduced because 800 million ATS were now to go to Brussels. The NGOs were nevertheless promised an additional 300 ATS for 1995, but they did not receive this until autumn.

Because of the lacking funds, on going project shad to be halted or run at low flame. It was not possible to set up any new projects "although partners in the South had already provided their inputs upstream and the NGOs had pre-financed the planning phase". The NGOs were obliged to take out loans valuing millions and had been driven to the edge of ruin. Many organizations do not now have any funds to plan new projects and were therefore only able to apply for less funds. In this way a mechanism had been put into gear which reduced the proj ectvolumes (and consequently the majority of bilateral technical development aid) by about one third per year.

Herbert Berger, General Secretary of the AGEZ stated that budget negotiations for the coming year had failed and that at best the 1995 budget would be repeated. He fears that the NGOs would slowly be forced out of development cooperation - in favour of private companies and "on-site-structures", i.e. NGOs from the South who would be the government's direct partners in cooperation. In selecting the partner organizations and designing projects, the danger arose that development policy issues - i.e. being the "advocate of the poor" - would be overshadowed by the interests of foreign economic policy.