Technologies for Poverty Reduction
10th and 11th October 2003, New Delhi
Papers presented to conference
Papers presented to the Technologies for Poverty Reduction conference are available to download in PDF format, and where appropriate in MS Word or Powerpoint formats. Some Powerpoint presentations are not included for reasons of size, but a PDF equivalent is provided. More information about reading PDF files.
Introduction: Is there a need for a South Asian response on technology for poverty reduction? Dr Vishaka Hidellage, ITDGPractical Action, Sri Lanka
History shows that technology has been a powerful tool for human development and poverty reduction. The dawn of the 21st century marked overall progress and revolutionary achievements in technological advancements. In almost every field, technological innovations have tantamount to explosive levels. Most observable advancements are; in medicine, information and food. At the same time, the world leaders were forced to acknowledge that behind the records of overall progress lays a more complex picture of severe unequal distribution of development. Inequality exists between and within regions, countries and communities. The Digital Divide or technology divide, reflects these familiar inequalities - although technological change alone cannot address them.
The Role of Technology in Poverty Reduction
Cowan Coventry, Chief Executive, ITDGPractical Action
We live in a divided and fragile world. The numbers of absolute poor have remained constant over last decade while global divisions deepen. Despite dramatic technological advances approximately a third of humanity are deprived of basic technologies. The poor and the vulnerable are also the principal victims of the impact of climate change on the environment and incidence of natural disasters. Yet the international community has no coherent vision of the future livelihoods of the rural poor.
Opinion is divided as to whether new technology has a major role to play. The contribution of new technologies, for example, in agriculture, should be treated with caution and in comparison with the benefits of low external input agriculture. A major challenge facing the international development community in meeting the Millenium Development Targets by 2015 will be to enable poor people to introduce incremental technological improvements. We need to offer the poor real technology choice over affordable, appropriate and accessible options. It is not hi-tech or low-tech but right tech.
The invisible hand of the market rather than the public good is shaping technological advance. To reclaim science and technology for the public good and harness technology for poverty reduction we will need to put people first in our approach to technology development, protect traditional knowledge from private expropriation, redirect our research efforts towards the poor and empower civil society to critically assess the impact of new technologies and exercise technology choice.
Sectoral trends in the water sector (technology, policy and poverty) in South Asia
Reba Paul, Programme Coordinator, Global water partnership South Asia, Bangladesh
In the Ministerial Declaration of the International Conference on Freshwater held in Bonn, it was recognised - " combating poverty is the main challenge for achieving equitable and sustainable development and water plays a vital role in relation to human health, livelihoods, economic growth as well as sustaining ecosystems". In South Asia which is the second fastest growing region in the world with an average annual growth rate of 5.3%, faces rapid urbanisation and about 40% of its population live below the International poverty line of $ 1 a day comprising about 40% of the world's poor. It is the most illiterate, most malnourished and most the least gender sensitive. The poor are vulnerable to water related problems in many ways affecting their health, productivity and physical safety. Natural disasters such as floods and droughts take lives and devastate livelihoods. Vulnerability to ill-health caused by water borne diseases or pollution is similarly a feature of life for too many poor people. Many poor communities depend on rainfed farming in areas where rainfall is variable and the green revolution including irrigation, have not reached. There are many other forms of vulnerability: erratic water supplies in low-income urban areas, declining fish stocks, limited control over waste and others. Poor access to water contributes hunger and poor food security. Women and girls have been a heavy burden in providing water for their families, and conflicts over water increases at local, regional and international levels.
Poverty reduction which is a complex issue, need specific targeted actions to ensure support to the weak and marginal communities in terms of policy, technical, institutional, environmental and financial. Many other factors also need to be taken into account for poverty reduction such as employment generation, income security, food security etc. Water is one such component of poverty reduction strategy but hitherto this has not been well articulated. There are as many aspects to water and poverty from providing infrastructure for basic services through to national and even regional policies and laws.
The modern, capital intensive technologies can not give any solution to water supply coverage to be achieved as per millennium development goals. There are many local technological solutions like hand pumps, pit latrines, compost latrines, vacutug pit latrine exhauster, small bore sewerage system, traditional rainwater harvesting and many tested and tried technologies for low cost irrigation like paals, canals, multipurpose deep tube wells, tanks, check dams, five percent pit technology, rubber dams, drip irrigation kits, rejuvenating Oaranis, integrated land and water management and low cost technologies such as three pitcher (kalshi) filter, two bucket household water treatment, shapla filter, pond sand filter for treatment of arsenic in ground water which are manageable by the local people and do not increase their vulnerability under unsustainable practices, can improve water supply for production, reduce water related hazards and protect the ecosystems and environment on which the poor often rely for their livelihoods.
It is well established that investments in water resources management and the delivery of water services are central to poverty reduction. More investments are needed to improve water security for the poor, particularly in rural areas, and such investments should be made more effective.
Sustainable water resources development and management solutions will necessarily benefit the poor but it is not the only case. Interventions in the management of water resources or delivery of water services could further entrench inequalities and reduce already lamentable access of the poor to these resources unless they have an explicit poverty objective.
This paper will show the linkage between water, poverty and millennium development goals, discuss various water-poverty issues, policy gaps, various pro poor technologies used in the South Asia for water management, water supply and sanitation and finally draw some recommendations.
Food and poverty: technologies for poverty alleviation
Professor H.P.M. Gunasena, Executive Director, Council for Agriculture Research & Policy (CARP), Sri Lanka
South Asian countries have made remarkable advances in food production accompanied by a dramatic reduction of poverty during the past two decades. This has been due to the result of trade and investment reforms, which have generated economic growth in this region. Despite these changes South Asia generates only 2% of the global income, yet supports 22% of the world’s population and 44% of the world’s poor. Over 75% of the population depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods. Therefore, agriculture will play a major role in the future and massive productivity increases and product diversification will be required. Due to escalating population and urbanization, natural resource are gradually depleting posing major challenges to reduce poverty in this region. The problems confronting these countries are complex and enormous of which the major issues are; declining agricultural land and agricultural population, marginal producers with small land holdings, decreasing per capita land availability, conflicting demands for scarce water resource, urbanization and youth evading traditional farming. This region will be required to produce food for larger and larger populations from less and lees land. The biggest challenge is how to increase output from the shrinking agricultural sector, while sustaining the productivity potential of the available natural resources.
The poverty is widespread in the region and there are over 800 million Asians living in abject poverty, nearly 20 million children are malnourished or undernourished. The levels of achievement of the Millennium Goals indicate that pervasive poverty yet haunts the South Asian countries. The most paradoxical situation is that some affluent Asians are enriching and changing diets while the many impoverished are scavenging. There is high-income disparity in these conflict engulfed countries and the purchasing power of the poor rural population is highly limited. The technologies have made a tremendous impact to improve the livelihoods of these people and even with a time lag they have benefited them. The technologies have benefited the rich than the poor, landed than the landless and men rather than women. The current globalisation is affecting all these countries and agriculture is getting commercialised. The technologies are generated based on demand and these are beyond the reach of the small farmers. They become inappropriate because of the scale, cost or managerial complexity. The agricultural production systems are also changing rapidly, trend being intensive agriculture using high- tech that provide maximum potential benefit of improved crop germplasm. Furthermore, a paradigm shift is taking place in agriculture towards the development of value added secondary products to be competitive in the international markets. In this situation, policy level government intervention will be required to safeguard the poverty ridden small producers by judicious investment in technology, infrastructure and human capital.
Despite the significant progress made in improving food production and consumption levels in many of these countries, there are numerous questions regarding technologies for reducing poverty in the future. Therefore, a participatory regional technology assessment is proposed to examine how agricultural research should be focussed to alleviate poverty among the rural communities.
Energy Technologies for the Poor - Technology for poverty alleviation: Relevance and Prospects in South Asia
Bikash Pandey, Country Representative, Nepal, Winrock International.
Appropriate policies for appropriate transport options
Ranjith de Silva, Asia Region Coordinator, International Forum for Rural Transport and Development
Download as PDF ~ 1.1Mb
Alternative solution for the paddy cultivation crisis through local traditional cutivation methods
Mr K P Hemantha Abeywardena, National Federation of Conservation for the Traditional Seeds & Agri-Resources, Sri Lanka
At present, the paddy cultivation in the island is on the decline due to the main reason of the high cost of production and the low price of the paddy, to the farmer. As a result of this situation, the future generation of the farming folks are reluctant to venture into paddy cultivation. Hence, the threat to the future food security.
The main crisis that we are facing today in this regard is the heavy usage of chemicals and the ever-increasing cost of same. In addition to that, this practice will definitely ruin the nutritious value of soil, bring damaging effects to bio diversity and pollute the environment.
These setbacks were not put into order by the modern systems used by the farmers, themselves and the parties who have advised them. Therefore, we, the National Federation of Conservation for the Traditional Seeds and Agri-Resources have already proposed an ancient and traditional method of paddy cultivation by utilizing traditional seeds along with the old farming know-how.
We have satisfactorily noted that due to our above proposal, we have managed to completely eradicate the use of chemicals and bring down the capital cost. Apart from this, the other damages have also been minimized. So, the farmer, himself has risen to a better footing.
All this efforts have enable us to get our most valuable section of the society, that is the farming folks to offer this paradise of an island a nutritious plate of rice and in the process the revenue, the farmer was getting for his tireless work, was doubled.
Sustainable poverty alleviation through afforestation project - a case from India
KK Kaushal, IFS Divisional Forest Officer, Sarojani Street, Chinnachokkikulum, Madurai Tamilnadu India, and
JC Kala, IFS Principle Chief Conservator of Forests, Government of Tamilnadu, Pannaigal Building, Saidapet, Chennai India
Poverty is more than inadequate income or human development - it is also vulnerability and lack of voice, power and representation. This multidimensional view of poverty calls for a multipronged approach for its amelioration. World Development Report 2000-01 very aptly recommends action on three complementary and synergistic fronts for poverty alleviation- promoting opportunity, facilitating empowerment and enhancing security.
This paper analyses, as to how Japan Bank for International Cooperation, funded the community forestry oriented 100 million US $, Tamil Nadu Afforestration Project, launched in 1997-98 in the Southern State of India, has evolved into a comprehensive poverty alleviation programme for villages bordering the forests, in which the majority are poor. A first hand account by the implementing officers, it brings out as to how the project includes distinctly, the above said three elements at the local level for sustainable poverty alleviation. Regeneration of forests, improvement of basic infrastructure through the integration of the line departments and promotion of alternate livelihoods provide ample economic opportunities. Establishment of Village Forest Councils and delegation of sufficient powers to these, has empowered the poorest of the poor. Tree assets, promotion of alternate income generation activities and the water harvesting structures have provided security by reducing the vulnerability to natural vagaries, particularly the drought. In this project the people development and forest regeneration go hand in hand in a synergistic way which makes it a scintillating example of "win-win" logic and worth replicating elsewhere in the world with suitable modifications.
Role of modern science and technologies in agriculture for poverty alleviation in South Asia
William D Dar, CLL Gowda and HC Sharma, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India
Around 70 percent of poor and food-insecure people reside in rural areas, although poverty and food insecurity appear to be growing in urban areas as urbanization proceeds apace in most of the developing countries. Productivity gains are essential not only for economic growth, but also for maintaining adequate food supplies for the growing world population. Therefore, accelerated public investments are needed to facilitate agricultural and rural growth through: High yielding varieties resistant to biotic and abiotic stress factors, Environment friendly production technology, Availability of reasonably priced inputs in time, Strong extension services, Dissemination of information, Improved infrastructure and markets, and Primary education, health care, and adequate nutrition.
Let the Markets Decide: A conclusion or a question mark?
Dr Mahesha Ranasoma, Shell Companies in Sri Lanka
- Can we regard markets as an efficient mechanism that will deliver technological solutions to poverty reduction ?
- Governments are the largest developmental agencies and the biggest stakeholder, but is there a balance needed between the level of government intervention and free market forces in the context of technology for poverty reduction?
- Does youth unemployment ring a bell about the future poverty ?
- How can we address the emerging new dimension of future poverty, namely, the digital divide or ICT poverty ?
Technologies for Poverty Reduction: The Political Perspective
Chamuditha Samarawickrama, Teleshan Network Limited (Sri Lanka)
Improved indigenous technology for poverty alleviation
Suvecha Pant, Reporter, The Kathmandu Post
Download as PDF ~ 590k
An Agenda for Change
Statement and Commitments from the South Asia Conference on Technologies for Poverty Reduction: Working towards a Regional Strategy
Other papers submitted to the Conference
Technology, poverty and the role of new technologies in eradication of poverty: the case of Sri Lanka
by Dr Sarath Dasanayaka, Head/Dept. of Management of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
This paper discusses various aspects of technology development and its interaction with poverty from a Sri Lankan perspective by giving more emphasis to the role of new technologies. Download PDF ~400k
Water, technology and commoditisation and poor - an Indian case study
by Prof. D. Sundaram, Honorary Professor, Center for Research in New International Economic Order (CReNIEO), Tamil Nadu
This paper highlights the increased role of water technology in transforming the water from public good to private good and thereby on an increased commoditization of the water leading to a deprivation of the water resources for the poor farmers. Download PDF ~134k