Boiling Point No. 26 - December 1991
INTERMEDIATE TECHNOLOGY Development Group
Technology &Design Transfer
A few years ago, ITDG was suspicious of the concept of technology transfer. If stoves were to be popular we argued, they must be designed locally with the full participation of the users and builders, not imported from somewhere with different customs, cooking habits, climate and fuel. The Lorena's unpopularity demonstrated this. But now we are devoting a whole issue of Boiling Point to Design & Technology Transfer. So what has happened?
Wheels for lorries in Britain and bullock carts in India have to be very different but no-one needs to continue inventing the wheel. Similarly, technology transfer can speed the process of spreading improved stoves, as long as the technology is adapted in participation with the users. Several improved stove designs have been developed and successfully disseminated and can be modifiecd to suit other situations. Too many stove projects have lost too much time by laboriously tackling the same problems.
This edition of Boiling Point reports examples of such transfers and identifies some of the obstacles and pre-conditions for success. The essential factor for successful technology transfer is its adaptation to the new situation. A complete stove design is rarely transferred. More usually, no more than a design concept - a ceramic liner in a metal cladding - remains to remind you of the ancestory of an adapted stove. It may not be the technology but the method of marketing the stove, or training the producer that is transferred from country to country. Better information about successful and unsuccessful transfers and practical guidelines need to be provided to stove workers.