| GATE - 1/86 - Ecology and environmental protection |
Energy Research Donors' Meetings - A Retrospective
by Hans-Stefan Peterlowitz
From 26 to 28 May 1986 the Third Energy Research Donors' Meeting will be held at GTZ/GATE in Eschborn, near Frankfurt (FRG). Both previous meetings took place in Ottawa, Canada, in 1982 and 1984, and were organized by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Both meetings were attended by representatives of national, regional and international donor organizations dealing with or participating in energy research. In 1982, a meeting was organized in order to provide an informal exchange of information about their current and future activities in the area broadly described as energy research and to initiate discussions on the need and possible forms of mechanisms for improving the effectiveness of such aid.
The need for the meeting arose from general concern among research fund administrators that official grants towards development research relevant to the energy situation of developing countries were inadequate in a number of respects: in particular there appeared to be wasteful duplication of effort, because there was little knowledge of what each of the agencies was doing; much of the research appeared to be poor in quality and was so even ad hoc in its arrangements.
In general, discussions were held according to the following agenda:
Current policies and activities of donors
• Information exchange
• Gaps in energy research
• Poor performance over the past 10 years
• Guarding against an energy research donors' cartel
• Elements in a research funding policy
Mechanisms to improve donor support for energy research
Inadequancy of information
On the subject of information exchange, a frequently-heard complaint among the participants was the inadequancy of communication at the bureaucratic level (between donors about each other's research activities and policies), at the scientific level (between researchers about their energy research activities both in the lab and in the field) and at the policy-making level (between donors, researchers, and energy policy makers in the developing countries about their respective needs and resources and about the relevance of their research results).
One of the interesting conclusions to emerge from the exchange of information described above is that many of the agencies are mostly or exclusively involved in the areas of renewable and/or rural energy research in LDC's. There would seem to be several gaps in energy research. There is, for example, currently relatively little support available for conventional energy research (e.g. electric power, natural gas) or for energy policies analysis.
Other gaps in energy research identified by participants include the relationship between energy use and the form of socio-economic development. The narrow focus of much of the discussion at the meeting and of much earlier research led to the conclusion that too little was known about the broader issues of the links between energy and the style or path of development. Energy was too often considered only as a constraint and the only pattern of development to be considered was that of the currently rich countries. For instance, the assumption that urban growth necessitated an increase in electricity generation had not been systematically analyzed. Furthermore, the style of economic development would have major implications for the form and amount of energy to be used.
It was suggested that the poor quality of much research was due to the nature of the funding, which was often short-term and without a firm commitment of adequate resources. Research priorities had not been identified in terms of priority energy needs; indeed, there had been a particular lack of research on the ultimate consumers of energy.
There was general consensus that purely scientific or technical hurdles are not the major obstacle in the way of solving the energy crisis in the Third World; most of the basic knowledge required is already known. Much of the energy technology likely to be of value for developing countries is unsophisticated.
It was argued that the key was to set up links between developed and developing country institutions to facilitate growth in research capacity and the transfer of technology. There was a clear role for energy research donors to play in this process. However, there was less agreement on what restricts the transfer and diffusion of technology to and within developing countries. It was noted that although most developing countries suffer from similar energy problems (for example deforestation), the solutions will differ, just as geographic, social and similar problems will vary with each country. In this context one element is likely to be the >consciousness< or political will of each country, conditioning its response to the energy crisis.
Lack of common standards
It was argued that after many years of implementing pilot projects in the energy sector we are hardly any wiser about their effectiveness. The fact that technical research is neither evaluative nor broadly standardized nor, in many cases, available to fellow researchers or energy policy makers means that there is little reliable technical information which would allow legitimate comparisons to be made between different small-scale energy conversion systems designed to meet a particular ultimate use such as cooking. It also means that the social and economic factors associated with the various energy conversion systems cannot be compared.
Since there are no common standards, technical specifications or methodologies to measure various energy conversion systems, it was, for example, currently impossible to compare one woodstove test in Burkina Faso against another one in Kenya. Much energy research activity in the past ten years has been amateurish, with little attempt to design competent measures of system performance, to gather data on system performance under field conditions, or to develop a general consensus on methods for reporting and evaluating the data.
Furthermore, a number of participants expressed their concern that much of the technology being diffused in the Third World by aid agencies did not work, was improperly tested, and did not even meet performance standards as specified by the exporting manufacturer or aid agency. It was strongly recommended that technologies should at least be subjected to tests similar to those carried out by consumer groups in the developed countries before being advocated by aid programs. It was suggested that gasifiers were particularly suitable for independent testing.
During the course of the meeting, a number of issues were discussed which, when taken together; constitute the beginnings of an energy research funding policy for donor agencies. These issues are classified under five headings:
1. The need for a long-term view of energy research
2. The interdependence between technical and policy research
3. The location of research
4. Public vs. private sector energy research frontiers
5. Research methods
Participants agreed that a number of research areas appeared to had been neglected by the donor agencies and expressed interest in examining whether further attention would be useful and feasible.
It was agreed that the participants would continue to exchange information on their energy research activities. In this connection, IDRC undertook to investigate the needs and range of options that might be considered in the establishment of a system for exchanging information on donor research activity in the energy sector. Donor agencies would be consulted on their needs, on the current status of their own internal project information system, and they could be informed of the results of the investigation. The range of options considered would run from the highly quantitative computer system to a more qualitative newsletter reporting on new developments. Consideration would be given to the feasibility of exchanging information on proposed projects >in the pipeline< as well as on projects currently in progress.
It was also agreed that IDRC would organize a similar informal meeting. However, the next meeting was to allow time for smaller group discussions on particular research topics, and this second meeting took place in September 1984.
The second meeting
This second meeting specifically considered what concrete steps could be taken to coordinate donor support for research relating to rural energy. The meeting strongly endorsed the view that participation in approved activities by those agencies not represented at the meeting would be welcome.
The participants at this second meeting stressed the continued importance of supporting research relevant to the energy sector of developing countries; the apparent easing of the energy situation at a global level had done nothing to ease the extremely damaging situation continuing to face a larger number of developing countries.
General conclusions regarding research networks, specific areas of networking, information systems and the next meeting were drawn.
The meeting expressed strong support for research networks as a means to improve quality and impact of energy research. These networks would vary in size and form depending on the subjects covered.
As an overriding principle, it was concluded that such networks should be based in developing countries. But it was also agreed that the successful formation of such networks might often require initial catalytic actions by donor agencies by virtue of their resources and international position; such actions would include a prior commitment to a network in a specific area and the provision of financial and technical support.
The participants of the meeting agreed that network and co-ordination activities should be based on the following guiding principles. Networks must be based on programmes at the national level in developing countries. They should serve to strengthen national research programmes in developing countries. They should advance the state of the art and they should have the potential to exert a significant influence on national policy and programmes.
Moreover, they should build on existing structures, wherever possible. And, most importantly, participants from developing countries should be encouraged to be the most active members of the network.
The above should be considered in the context of orienting research network activities towards ultimate uses, of strengthening institutional capacity and, of continuity of funding over a period of sufficient length to allow the accomplishment of research objectives.
At a general level, it was agreed that coordination activities and networks for small-scale energy technologies should progress through five types of activity.
1. The development of common methodologies for socio-economic analysis, testing, evaluation and monitoring which would actively encourage researchers to gather, share and meaningfully compare information;
2. The establishment and execution of monitoring programmes and mechanisms for sharing the information collected;
3. Where applicable, the creation of standards for product manufacture and performance through product testing, quality control certificates, and standardization of performance standards;
4. Provision of mechanisms for the definition of programme objectives and of the funds necessary for implementation; and
5. Collaboration to produce and execute a common programme of research (prototype development, analysis, evaluation).
It was agreed that concrete steps should be taken with regard to specific areas of networks that were currently being established and defined:
• Fuelwood production
• Wind pumping
• Rural energy technology assessment
• Bioenergy network
• Other network activities e.g.
- Energy conservation
- Natural gas
- Energy planning
It was agreed that there should be no attempt to form a new computer based information system to cover the research activities of donors in the energy sector.
However, information, dissemination and exchange were recognized as being an essential component of any research programme or network. Donors should give attention to the planning and support of such information systems as part of energy research networks. IDRC's Information Sciences Division agreed to give special consideration to requests from developing countries to establish specialized information and analysis centres and regional information networks related to energy research networks.
There was general agreement that a third informal meeting should be held, and, as has already been mentioned above, this will take place in May. The provisional agenda is given below.
Third Energy Research Donors Meeting 1986
The venue of the 3rd Energy Research Donors' Meeting will be the GTZ head office at Eschborn near Frankfurt (FRG). The meeting will begin at 9 am on Monday, May 26, and will end by Wednesday noon, May 28, 1986.
The agenda of the meeting agreed upon by the sub-committee reads as follows:
1. Presentation of activities related to energy research by all participating donor institutions
2.1 Energy Research Group
2.2 Issue paper on Africa (SAREC)
2.3 General priorities
3.1 Experience of members of several networks, e.g.
Producer Gas Round Table -
Cookstove networks -
RETAIN - IDRC
Windpumping programme -
BUN - US-AID
3.2 Future directions
4. Energy conservation research
4.5 Power sector
4.6 Future directions
Formulation of conclusions by workshop sub-groups.
5. Cooperation and coordination amongst donors (priority areas and activities)
e.g. to avoid duplications in energy research
In addition to the presentations under pares. 2.1, 2.2 and 4, thematic papers will be read. These review papers are intended to help start a fruitful discussion on the following issues:
• Energy Research Group - IDRC (pare 2.1 )
a) present statue
b) final summary report
• Issue paper on Africa - SAREC (pare 2.2.)
• Energy Conservation - US-AID/CIDA (pare 4)
To date, the following institutions are expected to attend the meeting:
UNDP, New York; UN-University, Tokyo. World Bank, Washington D.C.; SAREC, Stockholm. US-AID; Washington D.C. CIDA, Quebec; AFME, Paris; BOSTID, Washington D.C.; UNDTCD, New York; Dutch Ministry for International Cooperation, The Hague; Energy Research Group/IDRC, Ottawa; BMZ, Bonn; ODA, London; EEC, Brussels; Ministry for Development Cooperation, Oslo; DANIDA, Kopenhagen; DDA, Bern; Prime Ministers Office, Brussels; GATE/GTZ, Eschborn.
GATE regards such meetings as very important for international cooperation and for further increase in the efficiency of development cooperation, and whiskies the meeting every success.
The next issue of "gate" will be appearing on 16th June 1986. Our "Focus" articles will be looking at rural crafts and trades.
Nineteen New Members
Report from the 1985 SATIS General Assembly
by Urs Heierli
SATIS (Socially Appropriate Technology International Information Services) held its second General Assembly in Delhi from 2 to 7 December 1985. The first three days were devoted to a seminar on issues of methodology of Appropriate Technology; the last three days were used for the formal business session. The 17 founding members present admitted 19 new members; the General Assembly decided to change its structure in order to avoid more and more costly worldwide meetings having to take place. It elected a new committee to draw up a proposal for new statutes and a detailed work programme. The criteria for the new structure were that it should be cheap, democratic, flexible and transparent.
On the first three days a conference on >Moving Technology< was held, and it was intended that participants should share their views and experience concerning implementation strategies for appropriate technology. One main topic of the first part was >lnstitutions in Disseminatiom<. Several case studies were presented.
A wide field of activity
NGOs as central mechanisms of dissemination; Dian Desa's (Indonesia) experience with projects that increase the income of the rural poor was described by Christina Aristanti. Income-generating projects are somewhat controversial among NGOs, but Dian Desa is convinced that money-making activities are important not only to improve the situation of the poor, but also for the financial self-sufficiency of the NGOs.
The second case study looked at the exnerianrce of CAMARTEC (Tanzania) in merging voluntary and state organizations; Issa Lembuya showed that successful cooperation between an NGO and the state sector can have a positive influence on national development strategy.
In the third case study, Jaime Vela (Peru) described the activities of CCTA, the "Comision Coordinadora de Tecnologia Andina" and its specific work in systematizing the traditional knowledge of Andean society.
In a fourth case study, Ashok Khosla of Development Alternatives (India) stressed the necessity of applying more professionalism to the work of AT organizations. With two thirds of humanity living in extreme poverty, the success of our organizations can only be measured by the extent of dissemination of our technologies. In order to achieve large scale implementation, it is necessary to learn from the methods of big organizations and to combine the power of the big with the adaptability of the small. There should also be cooperation between different types of organizations according to their respective strengths: government organizations usually reach large sectors of the population; universities have the inventiveness, NGOs have the social perspective and the private sector has the motivation (to produce).
In a fifth case study, David Annandale of APACE (Australia) explained their approach towards implementing appropriate technologies in industrialized countries; these societies are increasingly becoming confronted with similar problems of structural unemployment as the Third World, and the creation of productive jobs in small enterprises is becoming more and more important.
In a sixth case study, Genevieve de Crombrugghe of COTA (Belgium)dealt with the trend towards change in the governmental and supranational organizations of the North; increasingly these organizations are realizing that their former policy of supporting big and capital intensive projects has failed; they are thus interested in small-scale projects and in cooperating with NGOs.
These institutional questions were given further consideration in a general outline of the functioning of organizations by Christian de Laet of the Canadian Plains Research Centre. They were further discussed in a workshop.
Marketing of AT
A second topic was the marketing of appropriate technology; it was introduced by a statement made by Gaik Sim Foo of IOCU, the International Organization of Consumer Unions (Malaysia). Marketing of appropriate products is a new issue for most NGOs and more experience of it has to be gained; Pascal Sambou of ENDA (Senegal) described some problems his organization faced when trying to train blacksmiths in Senegal to produce oil presses, the blacksmiths chose not to sell the presses but to rent them out in order to increase their profits. Despite these and many other problems, Manuel Baquedano (CETAL, Chile) pointed out that NGOs from the South need to consider more commercial approaches if they wish to remain independent; the times when NGOs could rely on a permanent source of foreign funding are over.
The business session
The formal business session started with an explanatory outline of the historical development of the organization from the time of its conception in the early 1970s. Each participant then described the networking relation between his own organization and SATIS and defined its expectations. The official document "From Dakar to Delhi, from Delhi to 1990", prepared by Paul Osborn and Urs Heierli on behalf of the committee, was presented and discussed.
The review concluded that SATIS had achieved much since its foundation: some planned activities had grown even beyond expectations, while others had grown in a way contrary to initial plans. Several factors helped or hindered the growth of SATIS. On the positive side, members had (been) helped to organize, share, and disseminate information more widely; on the other hand, some >key limits< had hindered hoped-for developments:
a) inadequate >product development< several activities were not ripe for use, or were inappropriate to members" real needs;
b) insufficient resources for servicing, stimulating and enabling members to undertake activities;
c) an inappropriate organization structure: the desire for democratic participation in activities and management was frustrated by an economically unrealistic committee structure and prohibitive rules against membership growth.
A further topic of discussion was the question of a new structure for SATIS; the committee had proposed the conversion of the present association into a foundation, with partnership instead of legal membership, and with activities organized by partners in subgroups, ad-hoc committees, etc. There was a general consensus that the existing structure no longer served to provide either the necessary support or aid for the diverse work and needs. A more flexible, cheaper, but also democratic and transparent, organization structure should be sought.
Of the 22 potential candidate members, 19 applied for membership and were unanimously accepted. The accounts for 1982,1983 and 1984 were approved.
The 1986-1988 work programme was accepted by the Assembly, but detailed outlining was delegated to a committee. A new committee was elected, consisting of Christina Aristanti, Manuel Baquedano, Didier Chabrol (GRET, France), Ben Gertes (PCATT, Philippines), Urs Heierli, lssa Lembuya, Isidro Ubando (CITAINRA, Nicaragua) and Pascal Sambou.
A further task of this committee is to work out a proposal for a new structure.
The 19 New SATIS Members
AHRTAG, England (Appropriate Health Resources and Technologies Action Group)
APACE, Australia (Appropriate Technology and Community Environment - Western Australia)
APPROTECH-ASIA, Philippines (Asian Alliance of Appropriate Technology Practitioners)
BTC, Botswana (Botswana Technology Centre)
CAAP, Ecuador (Centro Andino de Accion Popular)
CET, Chile (Centro de Educacion y Technotogia)
CITA, Ecuador (Centro de Ingenieria pare Tecnologias Adecuadas)
CITA-INRA, Nicaragua (Centro de Investigacion de Tecnologia Apropiada)
CPRC, Canada (Canadian Plains Research Centre)
DA, India (Development Alternatives)
GRTA, Italy (Gruppo di Ricerca sulle Tecnologie Appropriate)
IERT, India (Institute for Engineering and Rural Technology)
ITCR, Costa Rica (Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica: Centro de Informacion Tecnologica)
ITDG-NA, USA (Intermediate Technology Development Group of North America)
MANDIRI, Indonesia (Yayasan Mandiri)
RECAST, Nepal (Research Centre for Applied Science and Technology)
SIBAT, Philippines (Sibol ng Agham at Akmang Teknolohiya)
SPATF, Papua New Guinea (South Pacific Appropriate Technology Foundation)
SOOT, England (Small World Tapes)