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News from Bonn

Scientific and Technological Cooperation Development Policy

New Technology for the Third World

In the opinion of Dr. Heinz Riesenhuber, the Federal Minister for Research, the use of modern science and technology is absolutely essential to the developing countries in their struggle against - famine and poverty. The best way of making the new technologies accessible to the countries of the Third World was close cooperation and partnership in research and technology.

Cooperation in joint projects by scientists, technicians and entrepreneurs resulted in the training of qualified staff and in their acquiring the knowledge and skills that were required to master new technologies and processes. This was stated by the Federal Minister for Research when recently he explained his conception of the promotion of research and technology for the Third World to representatives of the press.

Aims of the cooperation

For several years the scientific and technological cooperation with developing and in particular with threshold countries has been on the increase. In the last few years the expenditure of the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology for this form of cooperation was more than DM 100 million in each case. This aid is to be further increased and extended in the context of the new overall conception.

The aim of scientific and technological cooperation with the countries of the Third World is to work out solutions together for solving the problems of the Third World; at the same time to transfer scientific and technical experience and abilities as a means of increasing the development capacities of our partner countries; and thus of creating opportunities for working together with German institutes and firms.
The fields of cooperation range from basic research by way of application-related research and development to field testing in conditions that are close to those found in practice.

Above all, they are characterized by:

· the development of new technologies for use in developing countries. For example, it is a question of methods of production that are environmentally acceptable and that save raw materials.

· the adaptation of existing technologies to the conditions in developing countries. Thus, for instance, solar-operated pumping and refrigerating units are adapted to the operating and maintenance conditions of the Third World.

· the demonstration and trying out of new technologies.

· the exchange of experience and scientists, and training programmes in the context of the project cooperation.

· participation in multilateral activieties, in the North-South dialogue and in the international exchange of experience, for example, by means of international projects, seminars and conferences.

The focal points of the cooperation are:

Environmental research

In the field of environmental research and technology the main emphasis is on the development and adaptation of low-emission technologies for use in the Third World. In cooperation with Egypt an environmentally benign and energy-saving method of manufacturing paper and cellulose from rice straw is being developed which is said to be more economical than the environmentally harmful methods currently in use. In a further project a low-waste galvanizing process developed with BMFT (Federal Ministry for Research and Technology) aid for medium-sized firms is being adapted to the climatic and production-technology conditions in developing countries and tested in a demonstration plant.

In ecological research the emphasis will be on the conservation of ecological systems (e. 9. tropical rain forest, savanna) and of sand usage systems, the investigation of demands on soil and erosion as well as research into suitable big-indicators for the Third World.

Energy research

Energy research and technology range from the fossile and renewable sources of energy to nuclear energy. So far, the emphasis has been on the decentralized supply of energy to rural areas. Examples of cooperation here are the supply of drinking water by means of photovoltaically operated pumps, the irrigation of rice-fields with the help of a wood-consuming gasifier in Indonesia, the supply of solar energy for operating theatre lamps, the refrigeration of medicines and the sterilization of medical equipment in a district hospital in Guinea and the solar drying of raisins in Greece.

In the field of fossile sources of energy the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology is working together with India in the development of pressure-operated fluidized bed firing in order to make use of the coal deposits there. In a German-Chinese project it is a question of the further development and optimization of a mining techniques developed in the Federal Republic (e.g. the freezing shaft technique).

Cooperation in the field of nuclear technology is above all a matter of transferring know-how and training staff. The emphasis here is on safety techniques and quality assurance systems, small reactors and concepts for planning and supplying energy.

Biotechnology

The aim of biotechnological cooperation is to help improve the living conditions in the developing countries in important sectors such as energy, nutrition, agriculture, health and environmental protection. The focal points of the cooperation are: research into and combating tropical diseases (parasitology), obtaining substances for medicines and pesticides from tropical plants, microbial treatment of sewage and waste from raw materials and agricultural processes, cultivating plants and regenerating raw materials, biochemical methods of manufacturing foodstuffs and non-essential foods, the use of biomass to produce energy and process raw materials.

Marine research

In the field of marine research the prerequisites for making use of the resources of the sea are being investigated and in particular the problems of the marine environment are being recorded in collaboration with the coastal countries of the Third World in the context of long-term cooperation. This cooperation concentrates on geo-scientific basic research as a prerequisite for a better understanding of the deposits and climatic development, on marine ecology and environmental protection, on the biology of fishing for carrying out research into and developing new catching techniques and on the investigation of underwater deposits of minerals. In the context of marine technological cooperation a modern freight sailing ship is being developed together with Indonesia for traffic between the islands.

Space research

In space research and technology the emphasis of cooperation is on access to long-range data collection results by means of suitable reception facilities and methods of evaluation as well as on extending and improving communications systems. Fields of application for long-range data collection and satellite communication are charting, estimating crops, forecasting damage and disasters, weather forecasting, observing the environment, prospecting for raw materials as well as the extension and improvement of communications systems for developing rural areas and for the educational television service. At the moment, scientific and technological cooperation is concentrating on the training of experts from partner countries at the German Aerospace Research Establishment, the training of experts and the holding of advanced training seminars together with the German Foundation for International Development and with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as on the evaluation of data provided by satellites.

The business and scientific interest of the German partners is an important propelling force in this cooperation. The development of convincing solutions to problems at one and the same time serves to demonstrate the efficiency of German research and development and improves the conditions for subsequent industrial and financial cooperation.

According to Riesenhuber, the success of the cooperation depends, apart from the quality of the technology, above all on the requirements, ideas and possibilities of the partner countries being taken into consideration carefully in every individual case. This is guaranteed by working together closely with the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and the agencies active in development policy. These latter have a great deal of experience as the result of many years of cooperation with the partner countries.

By the way, in "gate" we have frequently presented projects that are being carried out in the above context. For example, the solar drying of raisins In Greece (cf. "gate" 4/83), supplying drinking water by means of photovoltaically operated pumps (cf. "gate 2/85) and the supply of solar energy for operating theatre lamps, on which we once again have a report in this issue (see page 52).

Memorandum on German Development Policy

On the occasion of presenting this year's memorandum on German development policy, which is addressed to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) In Paris, Volkmar Köhler, the Parliamentary Secretary of State for the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation, stated that in the dialogue with the developing countries the Federal Government had urged a further improvement of the basic conditions which play a prominent part in development and the effective employment of aid. The Government had therefore increased its endeavours to improve coordination with the recipient countries and with other donors.

The acute state of distress and the economic stagnation in numerous developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, but also the successful efforts made in some of these countries and the adaptive policies implemented by them had been a special challenge for German development aid in 1984. The immediate programmes launched in 1984 to combat the current famine in African countries, with a total volume of DM 140 million, had according to Köhler to a large extent been combined with measures for ensuring that the people were able to provide their own food supplies. Short-term measures had been supplemented with structural aid for improving the basis of nutrition.

However, in the long term it would only be possible to increase the production of food by means of improved development of the rural areas and of the infrastructure. Therefore, the Federal Government had raised the percentage of bilateral government promises for promoting rural development from 21 per cent in 1982 to 29 per cent in 1985.

The German development policy was also taking into account the increasing significance of the conservation and protection of the basic natural requirements of life. In all the current projects for development cooperation the impact on the environment was being investigated and steps were being taken to control and eliminate the environmental problems that occurred, Köhler explained. In the meantime, checking environmental compatibility had become a matter of course for new projects.

In the view of the Secretary of State, the absolute poverty in the developing countries could only be combatted lastingly if the people affected had the opportunity to develop their will to help themselves. The Federal Government had therefore encouraged further endeavours to support organizations which promote self-help.

In order to broaden the basis for the development cooperation with the partner countries, the Federal Government had made increased efforts to mobilize medium-sized firms as well as the trades and crafts. The objective of this was to incorporate the private sector of the economy into this cooperation with the Third World in a way that was complementary to public development aid.

According to Köhler, the budget expenditure of the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation increased in 1984 by 2.5%. This increase in expenditure was linked with trends which were beyond the influence of the Federal Government. Nevertheless, it was just possible to maintain the net amount of the total public development cooperation in 1984 with DM 7,917 billion compared with DM 8,116 billion in the previous year. Public development cooperation consisted of 0.45 per cent of the gross national product. The Federal Republic of Germany was therefore once again well above the average for all the DAC countries, which is 0.36%.

The next issue of "gate" will be appearing on 17th March 1986. Our "Focus" articles will be looking at environmental problems in Third-World countries.