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close this bookGATE - 3/87 - Promotion of Woman (GTZ GATE, 1987, 48 p.)
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Reflection ...

Self-Help and Appropriate Technologies Challenges for Development Policy

The promotion of self-help is not a stopgap substitute for government cooperation, but a development aid tool in its own right. This was one of the main points in a speech made by Secretary of State Dr. Volkmar Kohler, of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) at a ceremony to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) at the beginning of November this year.

Dr. Kohler said that self-help was not basically a question of transferring resources, but of supporting the target group in removing obstacles preventing the development of its own potential. He pointed out that principles such as accepting responsibility, self-administration, a minimum of outside intervention, flexibility in the use of instruments of assistance and decentralization had to be respected.

According to Dr. Kohler, the development and dissemination of appropriate technologies are closely linked to the promotion of self-help. Such technologies must be based on locally available resources and know-how and must make a noticeable contribution to improving the living conditions of those using them. It must be possible to apply these technologies over a fairly large area, and - they must be environmentally compatible. As examples Dr. Kohler mentioned hand pumps for raising drinking water, mud-brick houses and simple methods of animal traction.

All these technologies were based on the users' needs and could be completely mastered by the users. Dr. Kohler pointed out that this precondition was especially important with regard to technologies intended for local production by small and medium-sized industries or informal-sector businesses.

However, the term appropriate technology was applicable not only to a result, but also to a process. Because appropriate technologies have to be developed in close cooperation with users. One important prerequisite for this, come what may, was close cooperation with the self-help groups and self-help organizations in which those affected organized themselves and via which they made their views known. And ideally future users would formulate their needs themselves.

In order to provide answers to the questions arising in this connection, said Dr. Kohler, there was GATE a government development aid organization, a section of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit, and GATE offered a technology-related question-and-answer service. To quote Dr. Kohler, "GATE also cultivates longer-term partnerships with nongovernmental organizations in various developing countries. It supports and promotes projects such as

· developing new technologies for producing butter from the nuts of the shea-butter tree in West African villages;

· improving and disseminating animal-powered systems . . .

Other areas in which GATE is active include the improvement and reactivation of the traditional Himalayan water mills, ghattas, the use of biogas and the dissemination of fuel-saving stoves."

In the development and dissemination of appropriate technologies, the Federal Government also worked with churches, political foundations and other non-governmental organizations such as BORDA. The State Secretary pointed out that BORDA focussed in particular on technological cooperation between developing countries and tried to arrange the necessary know-how or the necessary financing for this. A typical feature of its work was that the political, economic, social and ecological prerequisites and effects of a technology were explicitly included in the overall appraisal. In this way BORDA had, for example, made a major contribution to the development of biogas technology.

However, at the same time Dr. Kohler advised caution. For one thing, appropriate technologies had their limits. For another, a technology could only be described as appropriate if it bore comparison with competitive conventional technologies.