|dc.description||Give a man a fish, as the saying goes, and you are helping him for a very short while; teach him the art of fishing, and he can help himself all his life ... but teach him to make his own fishing tackle and you have helped him become not only self-supporting but also self-reliant and independent.'
So wrote E.F. Schumacher, who created the concept of intermediate technology (IT) in order to offer this sort of realistic and practical solution to the problem of poverty. IT makes technology work for people; it is a decentralized, small-scale approach to sustainable development, applying modern engineering to improve on traditional methods of production.
Schumacher's concept emphasized the use of tools and techniques designed to take advantage of local resources of knowledge, skills, and materials, avoiding an increasing dependence on the expensive, imported technological 'fix'. Thus intermediate technologies are usually small simple and low-cost -- affordable, manageable and controllable by ordinary people.
In 1965, Schumacher founded the IT Development Group (ITDG) to provide advice and practical assistance on the appropriate choice of technologies for the rural poor of the Third World. One of its principal functions, therefore, had to be to ensure that such ITs were disseminated widely, and information on them and the expertise available on them given out.
Dissemination means ensuring that credit is available, often to groups who traditionally find credit denied to them; training people in technical and business skills, and training the trainers; understanding economic and policy environments within countries and helping to argue for the necessary changes; and identifying entrepreneurs.
ITDG's training unit helps programme staff to identify training needs and to formulate training programmes; it explores the potential for mounting such programmes on a wider basis, it helps identify specialist resources and prepare training aids; and it helps develop the abilities of its own staff in such techniques. ITDG has therefore established training facilities at the Royal Agricultural Society's showground at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire.
ITDG has a Technical Enquiry Unit to provide information and guidance on technology choice to any individual or institution. It draws not only upon ITDG's extensive information and experience, but upon its wide range of contacts in the UK and overseas. The ITDG Information Office responds to thousands of inquiries a year from the development profession and from the general public. It produces and supplies information not only about ITDG's own activities, but also on worldwide experience of appropriate technology (AT) projects and institutions.
ITDG publishes and distributes a wide range of books on appropriate technologies through its subsidiary company, IT Publications Ltd. It aims to make information about the range and process of AT available at low prices to the development field. IT Publication's range of technical manuals are often co-produced with other organizations such as FAO, GTZ and the ILO. Overseas field workers have access to these books through the 'Books by Post' service, and through book tokens schemes supported by the ODA, Oxfam and various aid organizations. Currently IT Publications markets more than 600 titles
ITDG publishes two journals: Appropriate Technology and Waterlines. In addition, it runs a professional consultancy service to national and international agencies, governments, consultancies, and entrepreneurs through another subsidiary company, IT Consultants (ITC).
This company offers services in all aspects of project identification, planning, and evaluation for rural development. Thus ITC acts as a vehicle through which ITDG can be instrumental in the design and implementation of major development programmes.
In many cases, the technologies promoted by ITDG are disseminated through commercial channels. They may form part of commercial operations within developing countries, with producer equipment manufactured and sold locally, or there may be elements or proprietary UKbased technology involved. For example, the IT windpump under development by ITDG and its partners for nine years, is now available as a licenseable technology through Development Techniques. The licence has been taken up by companies in Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Pakistan, which are manufacturing windpumps for use in arid areas. On the other hand, the paper-pulp moulding system, used in intermediate-scale manufacture of egg-trays and other moulded products, is now being made by a UK company and is being sold to more than 34 developinq countries.
Bringing people together can obviously be a more productive means of exchanging techniques and methods, so ITDG runs exchange schemes to effect information transfer in this most practical way, for experience proves that solutions to problems in one locality can often, when adapted solve problems elsewhere
Such South-South cooperation has long been a part of Intermediate Technology's approach to dissemination. The recently-appointed Director of the Technology Consultancy Centre in Ghana was sent on a study tour arranged by ITDG of AT institutions in India. Four Nepali engineers involved in the successful establishment of hundreds of small-scale village hydroelectric schemes were sponsored by ITDG to visit similar Sri Lanka projects to invigorate the programme there. A Sri Lankan has also taken part in a joint ITDG-Agricultural Development Bank of Nepalsponsored course on microhydro development.
At the moment, ITDG provides about 60 interviews a year for the BBC World Service and also provides material for the German, French, Australian, American and Canadian overseas broadcasting services. The UK Central Office of Information distributes articles, interview tapes and films featuring IT on a regular basis, aimed at stimulating response from readers, viewers and listeners all over the world. Feature articles and publication announcements are sent to selected targets of specialist periodicals for readers living or working in developing countries.
'Advance Briefing' is a new, quarterly publication from ITDG, aimed at both British print and broadcast media, overseas correspondents in Britain, the media in developing countries, and professional periodicals. It aims to give advance notice of seminars conferences, overseas trips publications and broadcasts of relevance
For more details, contact:
Rugby CV21 3HT