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close this bookGATE - 1/84 - Wind Energy (GTZ GATE, 1984, 56 p.)
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News from GATE

Producer Gas Course
Letter to the Editor

Producer Gas Course was a success
by Eduardo Busquets

The twenty-four participants in the Producer Gas Course and Seminar from Central American and Caribbean countries had a very busy ten days. The programme was a very full one, packed with lectures and practical experiments. The subsequent seminar was open to a larger public, having the character of an experts' conference with lectures and a concluding platform discussion. Great interest was shown by those professionally involved.

The planning of the contents of the Producer Gas Course and Seminar in Central America and the Caribbean, which was held in Costa Rica from 13th-23rd November last year, was carried out by GTZ/GATE in consultation with OLADE (Latin American Energy Organisation) and CEMAT, Guatemala. The Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica (iTCR), as host, also participated in the organisation and carrying-out of the course, which was held under the auspices of the Costa Rican Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining.

The main speakers were Professor Hubert Stassen (Twente University, The Netherlands), Dr. Bjorn Kjellstrom (The Beijer Institute, Sweden), J. van der Weide (TNO, The Netherlands), Dr. Adhemar Brandini (EMBRAPA, Brazil) and Dr. Albrecht Kaupp and Dr. Ulrich Graf (GTZ/ GATE).


1. The division into a course section and a specialists' seminar proved to be a most useful feature. The overall length of the meeting was in keeping with the importance of the subject. From the educational point of view, the concentration on getting basic facts across during the very busy week of the course followed by the seminar in which participants could communicate with the other invited experts was an extremely efficient combination.

2. The language problem (English-speaking lecturers, lack of literature on the subject in Spanish) proved only a minor problem. As the lectures were given exclusively in English and most of the participants' knowledge of English was minimal, simultaneous translation was necessary. This made communication difficult, particularly during the first few days, until the participants had go used to discussing with the assistance of interpreters. But the limited opportunities for contact between English-speaking expert and Spanish-speaking participants was, nevertheless, a disadvantage.

The reader produced by GTZ GATE was translated into Spanish during the course.

3. The evaluation of the meeting from the participants' point of view produced with the assistance of an anonymous questionnaire was, on the whole, very positive They considered this kind of meeting as an efficient instrument for passing on information.

4. One important point was the realistic evaluation made by most of the participants, that severe improvements and development' are necessary in the field of biomass gasification before this technology can be propagated with any hopes of success.

5. The role played by such courses in bringing nations together is also an important one. At this course participants from several countries which are openly hostile to one another (Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador) met one another and, thanks to their common interests, spent ten days in very intensive contact with each other. The frank and friendly atmosphere by this close cooperation will certainly have made a deep impression on all concerned.


Both course and seminar satisfied an urgent need for information in this regions. The way that the course had been carried out was evaluated very positively by the participants.

There is considerable interest in continuing exchanges of information. The idea of a regional network as a distribution centre for circular letters, reports etc. (OLADE, for example) was raised.

A follow-up and, possibly, a follow-up meeting (perhaps in 1985) would certainly beta good idea from the point of view of pursuing further developments and strengthening contacts between the participants.

An easily portable gasification unit specially constructed for teaching and demonstrating purposes (e.g. a small charcoal gasifier with filters, cooler, motor and measuring devices) would simplify the integration of practical work into the programme of the course.

But the host institution and its staff should definitely be brought into the planning and execution of the course in order to give them a share of the responsibility.

GATE wishes to inform its readers that we are in the process of producing a handbook on Small scale line production for building in Developing Countries.

The following letter is a reaction to the Editorial in gate 4/83

Dear M. von Haugwitz

I am one of your "dear readers" having in hand one of December 83 issue of "gate". Even though we are only rarely in direct contact with each other, I would like to respond to your call with the following reaction.

Precisely because I feel that we share identical or similar opinions on some very important questions do I feel the need to point, but to you a problem that is possibly being perpetuated inattentiveness alone the objective problem of population growth which if turned into a cause finally leads to the wrong attempted solutions. To put it plainly in your "Dear Readers" contribution you declare the population development to be the “main problem” and, further on, state “that the population explosion has, in many regions, led to an intensification of land utilization which will, in the long run, destroy the productive capacity of the land”. As an employee of the Children’s aid organization I am, perhaps, particularly sensitive when I see effects of the world-wide problem of increasing poverty, one of which is the increasing number of children being misconstrued as the cause of the problem; or when I see the undeniable fact of the existing problem being forged into a quasi-political weapon of aggression. Formulations of this kind, after all, fall on particularly fertile ground in our society, especially as the subject seems ideally suited to the task of psychological self-exoneration. Action is superfluous if “the people down there keep giving birth, building up armaments and receiving the Russians with open arms, etc.” If only it were so simple!

“terre des hommes” has devoted an entire edition of its quarterly magazine to the subject of “The Population Explosion”. How threatening this concept sounds! It is well known that people act in an irrational way to things that frighten them, making like for those, at least, who work systematically more difficult than necessary. Even former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who obviously took - and still takes - this problem seriously, a politician who brought up the problem in Parliament all too often in a disappointingly superficial form (in our opinion), told the Overseas Club in Hamburg on 5 April 1982: “We know that the attempt to reduce the birth-rate without raising the standard of living will remain a hopeless endeavor, for poverty and population growth are interlinked . There is unfortunately truth in the saying: extreme poverty leads to too many children”.

Just a reminder: in 1970 the pro-capita income in industrialized countries averaged US$ 5,5600 rising to US$ 6,880 in 1978: the corresponding figures for developing countries (excluding oil exports) was US$ 430 in 1970 and US$ 560 in 1978, whereas the absolute difference rose from US$ 5,130 to US$ 6,320. This development is even more dramatic when we compare industrialized with the poorest developing countries. Here the ratio worsened from 1:37 to 1:40 between 1970 and the absolute difference pro-capita income soared from US$ 5,310 to US$ 6,710 by 1977.

Like you I wish to continue fighting poverty, not the poor. As I am sure we share the same aim, I am confident that you will understand my motive in writing this letter.

Gunther Hillieges - terre des hommes Deutchland e.V.

Spreading appropriate technology in rural areas of Mali - a responsible task

A project to simplify and improve a traditional process for extracting oil by the use of hydraulic hand presses is being carried out in Mali. The target group consists of village women, and simultaneous support for local craftsmen is a secondary target.

For this technological, women-oriented project we are looking for a keen expert with social-science and technical qualifications (engineering).

Primarily the task involves the introduction of the presses to further villages as well as subsequently looking after the project in the villages concerned. The successful applicant will be expected to work on solutions to technical problems I and also problems of acceptance.

In addition he or she will assist in the creation of a production infrastructure in Mali for manufacturing the presses as well as supervising the workshops involved.

It will also be necessary to create an advisory and maintenance service for the village centres. Of particular importance will be the training of local villagers and cooperation with other development-aid organisations in Mali with a view to spreading the new press in other areas.

To cope with this task we consider experience in the project-work/infrastructure-work sector in developing countries to be essential. We also assume a good knowledge of French.

This project is being run by the German Appropriate Technology Exchange "GATE" within the German Agency for Technical Cooperation.

GATE's task is to develop, test and assist the spreading of appropriate technologies in Third World countries.

We offer an interesting salary and the comprehensive financial and other incentives of a GTZ Foreign Work Contract.