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Internation Forum Engineering and Technology for Poverty

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					                   SAICE logo                                                 Draft V2 02/04/06



REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
INTERNATIONAL FORUM: ENGINEERING AND
TECHNOLOGY FOR POVERTY ERADICATION
Date:             22-24 February, 2006
Location:         SAICE, Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Hosted by:        South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE)
Organised by:     UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation)
                  South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE)
                  Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)
                  Ordem dos Enginheiros de Mozambique


The “International Forum: Engineering and Technology for Poverty Reduction”, took place on
22-24 February, 2006, at the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), Midrand,
Johannesburg, South Africa. The Forum was hosted by SAICE and organised by UNESCO,
SAICE, the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and Ordem dos Enginheiros de
Mozambique.

The main conclusions, recommendations and call for action focused on the need for the
production, dissemination and sharing of information, learning and teaching materials on
engineering and technology for poverty reduction, in conjunction with the development of an
on-line database, virtual library or portal, and network promoting engineering and technology
applications for poverty reduction. There was also particular concern regarding the decline of
young people going into engineering, brain drain of engineers, and the urgent need for a study
of capacity and capacity building in engineering and technology. It was suggested that these
activities be conducted with the African Engineers’ Forum.

This Report presents an overview of the Forum, the Forum conclusions, recommendations
calls for action and plan of action. Further information regarding the Forum is included as
annexes at the back of the report (Forum programme and participants). Papers presented and a
more detailed record of the Forum and Papers are available on the UNESCO and SAICE
websites.

Background and Goals of the Forum

Poverty relates primarily to the limited access of people living in poverty to the knowledge and
resources with which to address their basic human needs and livelihood development. Such
areas of need include water supply, sanitation, food production and processing, housing,
energy, transportation, communication, income generation and employment creation.

Addressing basic needs in these areas consists essentially of the application of technology, as
knowledge, tools and skills, appropriate to the context of poor people – in terms of the social,
economic, educational and knowledge situations of the poor. Technology empowers the poor
and access to knowledge and technology is therefore a central component of a rights-based
approach to poverty eradication.
Engineering and technology are of vital importance in addressing basic needs, poverty
reduction, emergency and post-conflict relief and reconstruction, and relate particularly to the
UN Millennium Development Goals – especially the eradication of poverty, primary
education, gender equality and empowerment of women, health issues – particularly improved
infant and maternal health, sustainable development and global partnership. Activities in
engineering, technology and poverty reduction include human and institutional capacity
building, applied research, information and advocacy, technology choice, transfer, adaptation,
development, innovation and dissemination.

This Forum had the immediate goal of discussing, developing, promoting and initiating a
programme of action promoting the role, contribution and awareness of the importance of
engineering and technology to poverty eradication. The overall challenge is to improve the
access of people living in poverty to the technology that will help change their lives and
livelihoods. The Forum followed a preparatory “Focus on Engineering and Technology for
Poverty Eradication”, held in Washington in March 2004.

The Forum

The opening of the Forum was attended by 70 people, with an average of 50 participants and
core group of 30 participants, from 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (including many
members of the African Engineers’ Forum). These included policy makers and planners,
commentators and specialists in engineering and technology, economic and social
development and specific areas such as gender dimensions of poverty and poverty eradication.
These were invited from government and the public sector, intergovernmental organisations,
NGOs, academia, the private sector and potential sponsors from around the world. The Forum
featured sessions on infrastructure, policy and planning, information and communication,
capacity building and perspectives on technology for poverty reduction.

The Forum began with welcoming comments and the showing of the video: “Small is
Working: Technology for Poverty Reduction” (see attached programme). Three keynote
addresses examined the theme of poverty reduction and the role of engineering and technology
– rural and urban, needs, barriers and challenges, gender issues, advocacy, information,
communication, policy, planning and advocacy. This was followed by two workshop sessions
on infrastructure - water supply, sanitation, housing, energy, transport, communication, and
enterprise development, micro-finance and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), income
generation and manufacturing.

The second day began with a panel discussion on policy and planning, information and
communication, with particular reference to engineering, technology and the Poverty
Reduction Strategy papers (PRSPs). This was followed by a workshop session on human and
institutional capacity building in engineering and technology for poverty reduction. In the
afternoon there was a workshop field trip to the “Sci-Bono” science and technology discovery
centre, with a presentation on the innovative “Gauteng Blue IQ” project.

The third and final day began with a panel discussion on perspectives on technology for
poverty reduction from government, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs, and needs
and challenges for engineering and technology, networking of universities and related
institutions and promotion of activities in engineering and technology for poverty reduction.
This was followed by a workshop session discussing the conclusions, recommendations and
plan of action.



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Forum Conclusions, Recommendations and Call for Action

The Forum recognized and emphasised the fact that poverty relates primarily to the limited
access of poor people to the knowledge and resources with which to address their basic needs,
promote sustainable livelihoods and development. Basic needs relate particularly to water
supply, sanitation, food security, housing, energy, transportation, communication, income
generation, employment and wealth creation, emergencies and disasters.

The Forum also recognized and emphasised that addressing these areas of need, and other UN
Millennium Development Goals, consists particularly of the application of knowledge, skills
and tools in engineering and technology infrastructure, enterprise and capacity development
for people living in poverty. Technology transfer and applications that recognise the social,
economic and knowledge context of poor people empowers the poor and helps the poor help
themselves, and are a central component of a rights-based approach to poverty eradication.
Failure to address such needs contributes to the marginalisation, exclusion and alienation of
poor people, and associated issues of security and governance.

The Forum recalled the recommendations of other international fora and the challenge for
regarding the effective application of engineering to reduce poverty, address the Millennium
Development Goals and promote social and economic development around the world,
especially in the developing and least developed countries, and of the need for sufficient
capacity and capacity building in engineering and technology to facilitate this. This challenge
regarding the need for adequate capacity in engineering and technology for development, and
the problems of brain drain from poor to rich countries, has received increasing recent
emphasis in reports from the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology and
Innovation, the Africa Commission, the InterAcademy Council, the World Bank, G8 and
similar bodies. Such calls were also made at the World Conference on Science in 1999 and the
World Engineers’ Conventions in 2000 and 2004.

The challenge for capacity and capacity building is underlined by the fact that many countries
around the world are reporting a decline of interest and enrolment of young people in
engineering and technology at tertiary level, and in science and mathematics at secondary and
tertiary levels. If these challenges are not acknowledged and addressed, the prospects for
development around the world, especially in developing and least developed countries, will be
severely constrained. UNESCO has a unique mandate among UN agencies in the sciences,
which include engineering, and this challenge for engineering and technology in poverty
reduction and development relates particularly to UNESCO.

Recognizing these emphases, and the importance of technology and engineering in poverty
eradication, the overall recommendation of the Forum was that there be a renewed
international effort and initiative to promote and apply technology and engineering for poverty
eradication. To achieve this, the Forum called for the development of a programme of action to
promote the role, contribution, awareness and application of engineering and technology for
poverty eradication, with the overall challenge of putting poor people more closely in touch
with technology to address their basic needs. This programme should focus on international
cooperation and partnership between people and institutions in developing and developed
countries, and requires enhanced international action on the part of governmental,
intergovernmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations.

In conclusion, the Forum specifically emphasised:




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     the need to develop awareness and advocacy regarding the role of engineering,
     technology and innovation for poverty reduction to governmental, intergovernmental and
     non-governmental agencies, organizations, the private sector and industry;

     the need for effective engineering applications and more efficient technology transfer to
     development and poverty eradication, to address basic needs, income generation and
     employment creation at the local level;

     the need for a more holistic approach to poverty eradication, including greater
     recognition of the gender dimension of poverty and role of women in the provision of
     basic needs, greater recognition of gender issues in engineering and need to include
     women in engineering and technology for poverty eradication;

     the need for technology applications to be appropriate to context in terms of being locally
     chosen, affordable, operable, maintainable and locally researched;

     the need for human and institutional capacity building in engineering and technology,
     including reform of engineering curricula and research capacity, to address the challenge
     of the declining numbers of young people going into engineering around the world;

     the need to involve engineers in all stages of project activity relating to poverty
     reduction, and to include this activity in engineering curricula and research priorities to
     help promote capacity building as an integral part of such activity.

To address these issues, the Forum recommended and called for:

     the development of awareness, public understanding, advocacy, guidelines, codes of
     practice, policy instruments and advice regarding the role of engineering and technology
     for poverty reduction, in partnership with relevant groups and other sectoral interests;

     the enhanced application of engineering and technology to addressing basic needs and
     poverty reduction, building upon local knowledge systems to effectively transfer
     technology, share good practice and associated entrepreneurial skills;

     a more holistic approach to poverty reduction, including better inclusion of the role,
     concerns and needs of women, and the inclusion of women in engineering and
     technology for poverty reduction, and associated information and advocacy;

     the effective application of engineering and technology that is appropriate according to
     local social, economic and cultural conditions, building upon local knowledge and
     research, with enhanced micro-financial support to promote technology for small
     business application, production, marketing and distribution;

     the development of capacity building, engineering education and research, and associated
     curricula reform and research priorities, with a more interdisciplinary approach and
     reference to poverty reduction and development, making engineering more attractive to
     women and young people;

     the greater involvement of engineers in poverty reduction and related project and
     development activities, and the sharing, dissemination and inclusion of such innovative
     approaches into engineering curricula and research priorities to promote advocacy and
     capacity building.

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The Forum made these recommendations and calls with reference to international and national
engineering, science and technology policy, development policy and related policy initiatives,
and in the context of the PRSP frameworks, UN MDGs, NEPAD and related documents and
initiatives. The Forum made these calls to international agencies and organizations, including
UNESCO, to governments and government ministries and agencies in developed and
developing countries, and to NGOs, especially those active in engineering, technology and
development.

Plan of Action

To facilitate these calls, the Forum recommended a Plan of Action to focus on the following
the following specific activities:

     the production, dissemination and sharing of information for awareness raising and
     advocacy promoting the understanding of engineering and technology for poverty
     reduction to the public and young people;

     the production, dissemination and sharing of learning and teaching materials, with
     specific reference engineering and appropriate technological applications for poverty
     reduction, to promote curricula development and capacity building in engineering;

     the organisation of a study in sub-Saharan Africa of capacity and capacity building in
     engineering and technology to examine issues of enrolment and brain-drain in
     engineering, as the first phase of a wider international study;

     the development of an on-line database, virtual library and portal to promote the sharing
     of information, experience, appropriate applications and applied research on engineering
     and technology for poverty reduction;

     the development and support of a “network of excellence” of universities and related
     institutions in engineering and technology to promote the sharing of information,
     experience and applied research for poverty reduction;

     the enhanced inclusion of gender and women’s concerns, needs, knowledge and role in
     engineering and technology information, applications, research and advocacy for poverty
     eradication;

     the development, promotion and support of project activities in engineering and
     technology for poverty eradication, and inclusion of project activity into engineering
     curricula, with relevant partners, including the African Engineers’ Forum.

Following the Forum, discussions are taking place regarding the organisation of a study of
capacity and capacity building in engineering and technology in sub-Saharan Africa.
Continued partnership with Forum participants and other relevant institutions, agencies and
organisations is required in the development and implementation of this activity and the other
recommendations and plan of action of the Forum.


For further information, please contact:
Tony Marjoram, Basic and Engineering Sciences, Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO
tel: +331 456 84178; fax:+331 456 85821/85820, email: t.marjoram@unesco.org


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Dawie Botha, Executive Director, South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE)
Tel: + 27 (0) 11 805 5947; fax: + 27 (0) 11 805 5971; email: dbotha@saice.org.za




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Annexes

Programme

Participants




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