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close this bookGATE - 2/87 - IYSH International Year of Shelter for the Homeless - 1987 (GTZ GATE, 1987, 44 p.)
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News from GATE

Question-and-Answer Service Biogas Seminar in Arusha

More Than 3,000 Enquiries in 1986

by Helma Zeh-Gasser

Many of the letters sent to the GATE Question-and-Answer Service begin something like this: "We are a non-governmental self-help group and have been working in the field of appropriate technology for many years now..."

The writer may have heard about the service on the radio, read about it in a magazine, or simply have been told about it by friends or acquaintances. Every year GATE receives a large number of enquiries from people wanting advice, information or details of publications on appropriate technology. GATE has been offering the Question-and-Answer Service - an information service for the dissemination of appropriate technologies - since the end of 1977. It gives enquirers from institutions and organizations, private individuals and companies, in particular from developing countries, a means of obtaining information on developments in appropriate technology. Due to the acute shortage of information in developing countries the people or groups that need information can often only obtain it by turning to an organization they know, in the hope that their letter will be passed on, or that the organization will suggest a suitable address to write to.


Painstaking research

To satisfy information needs, GATE gathers and passes on information connected with the development and adaptation of situationally appropriate technologies; the aim is to select and compile information which is suitable for the enquirer.

All letters received are collected and coordinated at a central office, to ensure that they are dealt with quickly and by properly qualified specialists. Depending on what is needed to answer the enquiry, internal or external GTZ experts are consulted, a report or a study is commissioned, research is carried out using a data base, or the enquiry is passed on to a competent department.

Thanks to GATE's international links, other organizations working in a given field can also be consulted to help answer the question. When questions on the same subject are received from the same region, GATE puts the enquirers in touch with one another, because it is often easier to coordinate activities from a central point.

Many enquirers have meanwhile become "regular customers" and make intensive use of the information and services we provide.

The total number of letters received has remained practically constant over the last four years. The majority of them continue to come from the Federal Republic of Germany or other industrialized countries. One conclusion to be drawn from this is that German development aid organizations, universities and private individuals have a great need for information; it also proves that the Question-and Answer Service is unique. Globally, over 50 per cent of the enquirers are organizations with a special interest in AT or which are actively engaged in development cooperation.

GATE publications were specifically requested in about 40 per cent of the letters.

Energy and building top the league

An analysis of enquiries related to particular fields revealed that over the last few years there has been a slight shift in emphasis from energy to building. However, the most strongly felt need is clearly still for solutions to energy problems. GATE has increased the amount of information it can provide in this sector to cope with this need.

Many letters contain more than one question, hence the higher total number of enquiries.

The subject areas for which enquiries are most frequently received are:

1. Energy: biogas, solar energy, wind energy

2. Water supply: well-building, pumps, latrines

3. Agriculture, forestry, fish farming: agricultural implements, breeding small animals

4. Food: oil production, grain processing

5. Building: mud brick presses, simple building methods, roof constructions.

Looking to the future, GATE will carry on trying to improve its Question and-Answer Service and thus encourage information exchange among developing countries, as well as between the industrialized countries and those which are no] so highly developed. However, even in the future it will not be possible to propose a single, optimal solution for every region and every field. The final selection of the information provided, i.e. the decision as to which solution is suitable for the application in question, will still be in the hands of the enquirer. Specific questions, with information about e location, the social and cultural environment and the quantities and qualities needed enable GATE to formulate a more precise answer; it does without saying that general questions can only be answered in a generalized way.

First Regional Biogas Seminar in Arusha, Tanzania
by Martin Homola

The first regional biogas seminar in East Africa was held from 27 April to 1 May 1987. It was the first workshop of this kind not to be held in the FRG, but instead in a region where GTZ projects with biogas components are being implemented (in several countries).

The purpose of this further training event was an intensive exchange of experience by means of lectures and discussions on the following topics

System engineering and gas burning appliances acceptance and attitudes of users dissemination strategies and training methods possibilities of financing biogas plants and appliances methods and techniques of utilizing sludge.

The seminar was attended by counterparts and GTZ staff working n the SEPs (Special Energy Programme) in Tanzania and Kenya, the togas project in Burundi, a participant from the Rural Growth Centre Project in Malawi, and guest speakers.

In the course of the seminar it became clear that a direct exchange of experience between engineers and decision-makers is essential for stimulating valuable ideas, though also for direct further training. It is likely that this biogas workshop will not only lead to direct contacts being established between the organizations implementing the projects in these neighbouring countries, but over and above this that it will have provided a fresh stimulus for further biogas activities in East Africa.

In view of the success of this seminar, the idea of holding another, similar one in the Caribbean-Latin American region next year is being seriously considered. Cali (Colombian SEP) or Cochabama (Bolivian Biogas Project) would be possible venues.

A resume of the results of the Arusha workshop will be obtainable from GATE as of August 1987
generalized way.