Eight years of cooperation with NGOs
by Peter Baz
It is now eight years since GATE concluded its first agreements with non-governmental organizations concerning cooperation in the AT sector. The first cooperation agreements were made with four Latin American groups in 1980. On the one hand, it was the counterpart organizations' job to establish contacts with target groups in their countries and, on the other, to organize decentralized question-and-answer services, AT documentation centres and the dissemination of AT publications.
Above all, the first agreements were aimed at an exchange of information and at supporting the establishment or expansion of documentation centres. Following this preliminary phase, the financing of fairly small projects in the technology sector was begun. Implementing agreements concerning small-scale projects and seminars were concluded with GATE's partners.
Since that time, GATE has not only promoted the information sector (software) but also a local research and development component (hardware) within the counterpart organizations. During the course of this cooperation, special promotion sectors have developed, such as the energy sector (biogas, wood-saving stoves, use of hydropower and wind power), but also including medicinal plant cultivation, traditional agriculture, the breeding of small animals, foodstuffs processing, village development in general and the promotion of craft trades.
Certain specific problems have been picked out by GATE and expanded to form independent R & D projects. These are the production of shea-butter, power gear technology and ghatta technology (Nepalese water-mill).
Nineteen counterpart organizations
The first counterpart organizations were the Latin American groups CEMAT (Guatemala) and ClTA (Ecuador). These were followed by ENDA, the West African organization (Senegal) in 1982. In 1983, a contract was then made with APICA in Cameroon.
In Asia and anglophone Africa in the following year (1984), cooperation agreements were concluded with YAPESMA (Philippines), CORT (India), SIBAT (Philippines), SPATF (Papua New Guinea) and RIP (Botwana). In 1985, these were joined by two further Latin American groups (CCTA, SEMTA) and an East African organization (DTC).
Between 1986 and 1988, agreements were signed with a further seven groups. These were ATA (Thailand), ESPLAR-FASE (Brazil), ANADEGES (Mexico), CETEC (Columbia), INDES (Argentina), UNDUGU-Society (Kenya) and ITTU (Ghana). Thus GATE now cooperates with 19 organizations, all of which, like GATE, are linked to SATIS, the information network. Working contacts exist with many other AT organizations in developing countries via GATE's question-and-answer service.
In September 1985, representatives of all the organizations with whom GATE was then cooperating were invited to a seminar in Berlin dealing with cooperation in the information and documentation sector (seminar reports are available from GATE).
Intermediary between GATE and target group
Over the years, the counterpart organization programme has become a central aspect of the Question-and-Answer-Service. This is the result of the following experience and facts:
• Competent counterpart organizations are the decisive tool for the practical application of AT know-how in developing countries.
• These partners are the necessary intermediaries between GATE and the respective target groups, which can neither be reached directly nor contacted by GATE itself. They are the vehicle which makes the question-and-answer measures so relevant for the target groups.
• The result is that the institutional, material and staffing infrastructure in the developing country, which is absolutely necessary for the dissemination of AT, is strengthened. Together with our partners, independent AT capabilities are built up in the developing country.
• This cooperation with its partners provides GATE with the feedback it needs concerning the specific, regional milieu of a project, as well as the actual need for AT.
When choosing a counterpart, great importance is placed not only on competence and financial independence, but also on long-term practical experience in development work and on the existence of an advisory service.
Experience in working together with counterpart organizations clearly shows that the more the counterpart's efficiency increases and the longer the period of cooperation is, the more its demands grow.
The 19 Counterpart Organizations
Help in important technological sectors
For the counterpart organizations, the important thing about working together with GATE is that they receive technical and financial aid from GTZ in important technological sectors, something which only a few donor organizations, such as ATI or ITDG, provide. In addition, GATE is one of the few organizations that also finance the establishment of an AT library and the implementation of a regional question-and-answer service.
Moreover, the counterpart organizations regard the practical discussions and intensive debate with GATE about appropriate technology and dissemination strategies as extremely helpful for their work.
Cooperation with GATE is also highly valued because its "holistic promotion" (question-and-answer service, library and technology projects) is an essential contribution towards increasing and improving the national, regional and local effectiveness of the groups' advisory services. The intensive debate about points of departure for dissemination (whether to pay more attention to the market or, instead, to advise or promote self-help) and technology sectors (whether to concentrate on fashionable subjects or to orientate towards basic needs; whether the development-political priority should be to save energy or to create income) is the result of a good working relationship and common (GATE and its partners) evaluation procedures.
All in all, it can be said that, since 1980, the support given to non-governmental organizations in the AT sector has both enriched GATE's range of experience and led to an improvement in the work of its counterpart organizations.
GATE can now look back on eight years of experience in the field of cooperation with counterpart organizations in developing countries. In Africa, Asia and Latin America, 19 counterpart organizations are being supported by the establishment of a regional question-and-answer service, a library, and the implementation of small scale projects, to name but the most important areas.
GATE dispose entretemps d 'une experience de huit années dans le domaine de la coopération avec des organisations soeurs dans les pays en vole de développement Dix-neuf partenaires répartis en Afrique, en Asie et en Amérique latine reçoivent un soutien par la mise en place d'un système régional du type question-réponse ainsi que parla réalisation de petits projets et ce, pour ne nommer que les dommaines les plus importants.
GATE puede contemplar, entretanto, los frutos de une experiencia de ocho años en el campo de la cooperación con otras organizaciones de pa/see en vies de desarrollo. Diecinueve entidades en Africa, Asia y Latinoamérica reciben ayuda en la organización de un Servicio de Consulta regional, de un centro de documentación y en la realización de paqueños proyectos, por nombrar sólo los sectores más importantes.
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