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close this bookGATE - 1989/03 - Recycling (GTZ GATE Magazine, 1989)
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Recycling in the Third World

Report on an Exhibition

by Elisabeth Braunschweig.

For a part of the lower-income population of the Third World, recycling provides a secure basis for survival. This was stressed by the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ), Hans-Peter Repnik, at a Brot fur die Welt exhibition at Frankfurt Airport. The exhibition was entitled "Recycling in the Third World - Survival by Re-thinking, Re-fashioning, Re-using".

Utilizing renewable resource sand thus reducing the amount of waste and refuse generated, continued Repnik, was one of the goals of development cooperation. Hence cooperation with non-governmental organizations was especially important as a means of helping in particular those in the informal sector in Third World countries. Brot fur die Weltalone (the charity organization of the German Evangelical Church) is supported by the BMZ to the tune of some DM 100 million a year.

In his opening address Dr. Stauber, chairman of Flughafen AG (the company that operates the airport), mentioned the unequal relationship between the industrialized nations and the countries of the Third World. As a result of their dependence on foreign exchange the latter were becoming the waste dumps of the former, he pointed out. He warned that exporting toxic waste would lead to a ,"dead end" for all concerned.

This exhibition, being held at Frankfurt Airport again for the first time in 13 years,provides a wealth of information on the general social and economic situation in Third World countries. The information is complemented by nine selected sample projects illustrating in concrete form - about a hundred everyday objects made from waste-what people understand by recycling in the Third World. For example, how gutted vehicles are transformed into agricultural implements: products from a project started five years ago in Brazil, where a group of unemployed people and priests established a workshop to train craftsmen. (Some of the young people trained there even found work at firms in the formal sector.) As a further example, the sought-after utensils made out of bombs and aircraft wrecks in Laos.

On display in showcases are exquisite recycling objects such as toy
cars, ingeniously made from milk cans by imprisoned agricultural workers in Bolivia, or dolls made of textile scraps, fashioned by waste collectors in Cairo - examples which show that recycling in the Third World does not follow the pattern of the industrialized countries.

"Eat what is in the bag, and then use the bag" is a proverb from Lesotho. But there is much more behind recycling as a strategy for survival than just sensible use of consumer durables, as a booklet accompanying the exhibition points out. The text goes on: "The refashioning, the finding of alternative uses, the recycling of the waste of others is the only way left for people who, relegated to the bottom rung of society, try to hold their own through their own efforts".

This is where the partners of Brot fur die Welt come in. They cannot compensate for state or municipal deficits in many service sectors, e. g. waste disposal, and nor do they want to. But they try to respond to calls for help from people who are forced to lead a degrading existence in filth and misery in order to survive.

Exhibition Description
Aladdin's New Lamp- Recycling in the Third World

Recycling in the Third World is not only a strategy for survival and living, with extremely positive ideas for the further development of traditional skills and developing and promoting new occupations and sources of income; it is also an example of self-help and creative initiative. The observant traveller will encounter this kind of recycling in all Third World countries, not only in Egypt, Burkina Faso, Burma, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Surinam, where the objects chosen for this exhibition originated. The objects are made of iron, tin, wire, rubber, textiles, glass etc., and are used as everyday articles such as lamps, kitchen and household utensils, toys, musical instruments etc.

The exhibition itself comprises some 130 exhibits, 43 large photos, 8 text panels and a series of slides illustrating the technology.

A book has been published to accompany the exhibition. It has the same title (Jurgen Grothues: Aladins neue Lampe- Recycling in der Dritten Welt) and is published by Trickster Verlag, Munich. The book is available from the Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen and costs DM 18.00 plus postage and packing.

Packing and transport of the exhibition are payable by the organizer (a large van is sufficient).

The fee (to cover the costs of photos, exhibit identification, the slide series and general preparation costs) is DM 1500.

Insurance value: max. DM 1 5,000.

The exhibition is available from

Institut fur Auslands
- Ausstellungsdienst -
Charlottenplatz 17
D-7000 Stuttgart 1
Federal Republic of Germany
Telephone O7 11 /2225-0
Workshop: "Teamwork in Biogas Extension"

From 19 to 21 July, twenty-five experts on extension work met at GTZ headquarters in Eschborn (FRG) to discuss experience to date with teamwork in biogas extension services. Apart from some basic conditions for fruitful teamwork, it was generally agreed that interdisciplinary teams represented a good approach in a multisectoral field like biogas technology.

As regards the latest developments in biogas extension, agricultural effects such as organic fertilization and soil protection are now becoming more important than small-scale energy production.

Waste water treatment and environmental protection are also major topics currently under discussion.

All the participants agreed on the need to continue working on promising biogas extension concepts which take these topics into consideration, and which in the promotion of executing agencies focus in particular on management and advisory services.