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Research and cooperation with developing countries
Development policy
Research policy and organisation


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European Community
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research and cooperation
with developing countries Introduction Innovation in Curope: Re&earch and Re&ultA
Developing countries
Scientific cooperation with
developing countries
cooperation policies, the European Union's
S&T cooperation policy is today based on
three pillars:
- a thematic approach open to all DCs;
- partnership based on Europe-DC dialogue;
- regional differentiation among the DCs.
As a continuously evolving concept, scientific
cooperation for development has contributed
to promoting the role of research in develop­
ment and economic cooperation policies
between Europe and the DCs.
15 years of evolution
The STD1 programme (1982-1987) was the
first programme of international dimension
to offer DCs the opportunity to conduct
research in partnership. The work financed
under this programme differed from the
conventional transfer of know-how and
Since 1983, the European Union has been offering developing countries (DCs) an technology. The STD1 joint research pro­
original scientific and technical cooperation programme based on equitable part­ grammes, selected on the basis of scientific
nership and on scientific excellence. excellence, each included one team from the
North and one from the South.
STD1 concentrated on two themes which are Cooperation among scientists
The specific role of scientific cooperation common to all DCs: agriculture and health.
between the EU and developing countries is The first programme clearly contributed to the
to mobilize European researchers to work advance of scientific knowledge specific to the
together with researchers in the DCs to iden­ developing world, with a primary concen­
tify answers to specific problems which are tration on African countries. Projects had a
common to all DCs. mono-disciplinary dimension and were im­
European scientific cooperation for develop­ plemented under the Member States' various
ment was established in 1983 as a specific bilateral cooperation schemes.
component of the Community's framework STD2 (1987-1991) maintained the two prin­
cipal orientations, agriculture and health, but programme for technological research and de­
emphasized the need for greater involvement velopment in association with the Science and
of scientists from the DCs, in order to Technology for Development programme,
better known by its successive acronyms strengthen local research potential. Above and
STD1,STD2andSTD3. beyond scientific excellence, an additional
Within action II ("international cooperation") criterion in project selection was the potential
impact of this research on local development. of the fourth framework programme, scientific
STD2 improved the European dimension and cooperation is implemented through the
inspired new North-North-South type rela­INCO-DC programme (INternational Cooper­
ation with Developing Countries). tionships. It also saw a greater involvement of
Following the evolution of development Asian and Latin-American teams.
Innovation in Europe: Research and Remits
Developing countries
Whilst maintaining these major initiatives, the searchers, both in the North and in the South.
STD3 programme (1991-1994) adopted a The programmes have encouraged scientists to
set up networks, thereby placing their research more integrated approach and favoured inter-
cooperation on a permanent basis. By wi­disciplinarity. In agriculture it afforded a more
prominent position to human, social and eco­ dening European researchers' fields of relation­
Charles-Henri Metzger, DC XII
nomic sciences, whilst in the area of health, it ships, Community technical research and
Fax : +32 2 296 60 20
opened toward public health policy reform. development has become more tight-knit, so
E-mail : charles-henri.metzger
Prominence was given to projects at the inter­ contributing a clear added value to national
face between these two themes and the sus­ efforts. As a result, European technological re­
search and development is now better known tainable and non-damaging character of the Developing countries
solutions offered became an additional selec­ in the DCs and its value better recognized. Tim Hall, DG XH
Fax : + 32 2 296 62 52 tion criterion. By strengthening the balanced Furthermore a considerable portion of the
E-mail : distribution of researchers from the different scientific results have been applied in devel­
continents, the programme also supported the opment operations or have been taken into
WEB SITES creation of vast thematic research networks account in the outlining of the DCs' develop­
• On the Europa server : ment policies. and stimulated South-South cooperation.
The present INCO-DC programme (1994- Numerous scientific publications attest to the
1998) takes explicit account of the environ­ quality of this scientific work which has been
mental dimension of development and has widely publicized throughout the DCs in spe­
• on the CORDIS server :
opened up to include information and com­ cialized magazines and also through thematic
munications technology on the basis of the workshops and scientific congresses in both home.html
concept of mutual interest. Europe and the DCs. Finally, it is to be noted
INCO-DC favours projects which address that the programmes have strengthened the
global development issues such as desertifi­ DCs' human resource capacities, in particular
cation, world food security, or the effects of through the training of young researchers
agricultural practices on the environment. from the DCs involved in the research projects.
The programme addresses projects present­ The participation of numerous institutions
ing a regional approach while encouraging from the DCs in the different programmes has
partnerships between scientists from neigh­ given them a fresh impulse. At the same time
bouring DC countries. It supports multi-disci­ the projects have enabled certain of the insti­
plinary research projects involving numerous tutions to upgrade their scientific hardware.
teams while addressing issues of concern
ranging from fundamental research to the A programme with a future
identification of the needs of potential bene­ The evolution of the EU's scientific coopera­
ficiaries. The programme complements and tion programmes with the DCs was instru­
enhances the EU's and Member States' in­ mental in defining the Community strategy
vestments in research capacity under their adopted by the Council in 1997. Thisy
cooperation for development policies. aims at involving the various existing in­
struments, both in scientific policy and in
development policy (development funds, A remarkable contribution
By addressing subjects of interest to all DCs, MEDA, LAA and EDF), in order to promote
the hundreds of European scientific cooper­ technical research and development as a
ation projects have yielded a multitude of Community development tool.
In the context of globalization, scientific positive results.
research is henceforth called upon to play an Firstly, by involving thousands of teams, the
increasingly important role as a strategic successive programmes have made possible the
establishment of all kinds of ties among re­ element for development.
© MARCH 98 PERATioN INCO - INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Agriculture and Food innovation in Europe: Research and Results
Developing countries
Vietnam's agricultural transition
under the microscope
in the Hanoi region in the North of the
country, this basin is mainly devoted to rice
When the project took on a European di­
mension, the Catholic University in Louvain
(Belgium) was entrusted with producing a
satellite map of the hydrologicai system and
certain crops in the Red River basin. The
National Centre for Agronomic Studies in
Hot Regions (France) focused on rice culti­
vation (production techniques, yields, etc.),
whilst the GRET conducted an economic
analysis of changes in family farming in this
part of northern Vietnam. The Vietnamese
partner (the Institute of Agricultural Sciences),
was systematically involved in all the different
aspects of the project.
The de-collectivisation which has Over the past half-century, Vietnam's agricul­ Historical background
taken place in Vietnam over the ture has undergone a radical transformation. One of the most original aspects of this
past 15 years has had a signifi­ Although collectivisation had a deep impact research was its historical approach. In
cant impact on the development on the country between 1960 and the order to gain a better understanding of the
of its agriculture. Europe needed eighties, the State has gradually pulled out current situation, past agricultural tech­
to understand the mechanisms of agricultural production. In 1988, to fos­ niques (tilling, water usage, etc.) and the
behind this process in order to ter the development of a real market, land associated social relationships were
help the country to implement was re-distributed to families. Didier Piilot, analysed. Simultaneously, research at the
development policies based on head of the Research and Technological various sites involved in the study, was
recent reliable data. On that Exchange group (GRET, France) explained based on processing the data from surveys,
score, a study of rice-growing in that, "This de-collectivisation was a very monitoring and experiments in the rural en­
the Red River basin has provided interesting model for the European Union vironment. Researchers showed that
some interesting results. to study because it is similar to the process a return to family-scale agriculture has
currently under way in the countries of the resulted in a new dynamism on the part
former Soviet bloc. Under these circum­ of Vietnamese producers. As might be
stances, it was important to understand the expected, however, the price of this
way in which the process developed and to improvement has been greater social
draw practical conclusions". differences. These are not based on land-
In order to conduct an in-depth analysis of ownership (since land was distributed on an
these economic and social reforms within egalitarian basis), but rather on financing
the agricultural world, the European Com­ capacity, which has resulted in differences
mission provided its support to scientists between the various producers.
wishing to study in detail an ecosystem with Researchers have also observed that the
particularly interesting economic and social pace of agricultural change has been
diversity: the basin of the Red River. Located particularly rapid. For example, a significant
Sheet N°180E INCO - INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Agriculture and Food
Innovation in Europe: Research and Results
Developing countries
Didier Piilot
Groupe de Recherche
et d'Échanges Technologiques
211-213, rue La Fayette
F­75 010 Paris­France
Tel. : + 33 1 40 05 61 61
Fax:+ 33 1 40 05 61 10
E­mail :
• GRET ­ Groupe de Recherche
et d'Echanges
Technologiques, France
number of technical innovations were Researchers have also studied water man­
• Institut National des Sciences
adopted en masse by farmers even during agement in the Red River basin. Such an ag­ Agricoles, Vietnam
the course of the research. ricultural system is based on an absolute • Université Catholique
de Louvain, Belgium guarantee of continuous, high­quality water
• Centre National d'Etudes
supplies. Paddy water needs are nevertheless Current limits on progress
Agronomiques des Régions
The study has shown that the progress of being satisfied, which is a significant change Chaudes, France
Vietnamese producers seems to have from previous years. Pumping quality has
Project reached a plateau. In the delta, the poten­ improved considerably since it has been car­
Family farming and
tial for increasing plant production appears ried out by local irrigation stations set up by
environmental resource
to be limited because rice yields are already district cooperatives on their own lands. management in the
Red River basin "Generally speaking, the economic transi­high, in both the dry and rainy seasons.
Likewise, the practice of growing a third tion is proceeding rather well, with fewer
crop every year (mainly winter vegetables), negative effects than might initially have TS3-CT92-0054
though initially conducted on the most fa­ been feared. Farming systems are evolving
Programme vourable soils, has now extended into the rapidly, spurred by general economic
Life Sciences and Technologies
marginal areas and can be extended no fur­ growth. Nevertheless, the issue of charges,
for Developing Countries
the so­called "water taxes", remains a ther. Added to this there is a trend towards (STD3)
turning low­lying rice paddies (the ones thorny and controversial one, with the re­
with the lowest yields) over to fruit produc­ cipient of such taxes still to be settled.
tion (especially litchis). Should the recipient be the State, to allow
"Under such circumstances, there are it to amortise the central equipment pur­
fears that the increase in rice production chased during the seventies, or should it be
the new local authorities, to allow them to in the delta may fail to keep pace with
renovate the small­scale equipment they demographic growth in the North, espe­
cially if this continues to be boosted by purchased starting in 1980? In the absence
positive migrant flows into Hanoi from of clear regulations, the fragile equilibrium
other regions". which has underpinned recent growth may
be jeopardised", said Didier Piilot.
MARCH 98 ΡΕίΑτιοΝ INCO - INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Agriculture and Food Innovation in Europe: Research and Resulti
Developing countries
Bananas: Back to their roots
for a better future
Equatorial Africa and South America set up
vast programmes to control this parasite,
which is now endangering banana planta­
tions in the Antilles.
In order to halt the spread of the disease,
the European Commission is supporting
research using state-of-the-art knowledge
about the genetic diversity of banana plants
and the mechanisms they deploy to resist
this disease. The goal is to develop new
varieties that are tolerant to cercosporiosis.
Ancestors to the rescue
According to Hugues Tézénas du Monteei,
head of the banana and plantain plants
programme at CI RAD (International coop­
eration centre for agronomic research for
development), "This work requires a close
As the world's fourth staple and With annual production of 85 million tons, partnership between research centres and
a vital part of the daily diet in the banana is one of the world's main universities in the North and research sta­
many countries of the southern subsistence crops. Whereas consumers in tions in the South. The research relies on
the northern hemisphere enjoy them as a the INIBAP network (V. hemisphere, the banana is cur­
dessert, bananas, along with their plantain In the battle against this disease, the first rently threatened by "Black
stripe" disease. In order to de­ variety, are the daily staple in many devel­ obstacle is the sterility of banana plants
velop disease-resistant varieties, oping countries. These plants, belonging to used for fruit production. Although "natu­
scientists went in search of the the Musa genus, are vital for the millions of ral" forms of the plant are diploid (they
original "parents" of present-day farmers producing them, who depend on have an even number of chromosomes),
them for food and sell them on the local cultivated species are mainly triploid and cultivated banana plants.
markets or for export. sterile. While this lack of fecundity makes it
possible to breed seedless fruit that is pleas­
"Black stripe" disease ant to eat, at the same time it makes it im­
After a lengthy struggle against Panama possible to cross-breed plants in order to
obtain new varieties. disease - an epidemic during the fifties -
researchers are now confronted with an­ To overcome this situation, scientists
other, far more destructive, parasite known searched for the "natural" original parents
as "Black stripe" (or black cercosporiosis). of cultivated triploid banana plants. They
This fungus, which attacks the plant's found them in South-East Asia, in the form
leaves, holds back growth and reduces the of plants which yield a non-edible fruit con­
yield of the banana tree and threatens to sisting exclusively of seeds. They selected
destroy entire harvests. varieties resistant to Black stripe from
Starting from the Fiji Islands, the disease among these species and then crossed
spread to plantations in Central America. these varieties with cultivated banana
Having been severely affected in their turn, plants in order to breed new triploid hybrids
Sheet N° 181 E INCO - INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Agriculture and Food
Innovation in Europe: Research and Results
Developing countries
Hugues Tézénas du Monteei
Centre de Coopération
producing seedless bananas that are fully Internationale en Recherche
Agronomique pour resistant to cercosporiosis.
le Développement
Some of these new varieties yield smaller
Département des productions
but far tastier fruit than that produced by fruitières et horticoles
the Grande Naine, the main banana variety BP 5035
F­34032 Montpellier Cedex 1, currently produced for export. "It was ex­
tremely useful to breed new varieties in or­
Tel. : + 33 4 67 61 58 60
der to limit the vulnerability inherent in the Fax : + 33 4 67 61 71 47
E­mail : large­scale cultivation of a single species",
added Hugues Tézénas du Monteei, saying,
"Furthermore, it is a means of catering for • Centre de Coopération
different consumer tastes". Internationale en Recherche
Agronomique pour
le Développement, France
Biotechnology as a backup
• Centre de recherches
Alongside traditional techniques, European régionales bananiers et
researchers made use of new biotechnology plantains (CRBP), Cameroon
• Centra Agronomico Tropical methods. Genetic transfer techniques have Another new partner is the Dominican Re­
de Investigación y Enseñenza
made it possible to breed highly promising public, where black cercosporiosis has re­ (CATIE), Costa Rica
genetically modified banana and plantain cently been identified. "It is sensible to test • Katholieke Universiteit
Leuven, Belgium plants. The next step will be to modify banana our resistant banana plants in a newly­
• Faculté des Sciences plants containing genes of agronomic inter­ infected area and to work with scientists
Agronomique de Gembloux,
est. In order to achieve this, genetic mapping from the region in order to control Black Belgium
of the banana tree will, in the near future, stripe disease". • CIRAD­BIOTROP, France
• Université Paris Sud, France make it possible to isolate the gene, or genes, Under the new research project, Cameroon
• Réseau international pour
that are likely to improve the species. and Costa Rica are contributing valuable input
l'amélioration de la banane
In the light of such useful results, the Com­ due to the regional scope of the scientific et de la banane plantain
mission has opened up the project to other institutions involved, which are also respon­ (INIBAP), France
partners. "We are being assisted by a Ger­ sible for providing training in techniques for
man team which will be working on proto­ controlling banana plant diseases.
Genetic improvement of
plast fusion, a subject with which it is very cultivated banana plants for
local comsumption and export familiar and which has proven to be of (V International Network for the Improve­
to improve cercosporiosis practical use in modifying sterile plants". ment of Banana and Plantain.
TS3-CT 91-0014
Life Sciences and Technologies
for Developing Countries
ΡΕίλτιοκ INCO - INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION MARCH 98 Medicine and Heal Innovation in Europe: Research and Resulti
Developing countries
A European breakthrough
in combating bilharziosis
tor of the project, noted that, "Such liver
complications result in the death of five to
ten percent of patients, sometimes many
years atter the initial infection ".
Brazil's valuable contribution
Due to the scale and severity of the disease,
many research programmes involving scien­
tists from the North and the South have
been set up. In the early eighties this led
to cooperation being initiated between
researchers from the laboratory of immu­
nology and parasitic disease genetics at the
Marseilles University medical faculty and
Brazilian physicians and biologists. The ven­
ture started in a village in north-east Brazil,
where bilharziosis is endemic. Running
As a result of prolonged collabo­ All too frequently it is forgotten that, in through the village is a river containing nu­
ration with Brazilian scientists, terms of mortality, bilharziosis ranks as merous molluscs, some of which are
European researchers have found the world's second most important parasite- infected by schistosoma. Since the river is
the main source of water for domestic use the gene responsible for resis­ born endemic disease after malaria. At pre­
and irrigation (which is indispensable in tance to bilharziosis. This dis­ sent, more than 300 million people in 79
covery is all the more important southern countries are infected and the such a dry and arid climate), practically the
since there is no vaccination nor disease is steadily spreading due to the entire population Is affected, some very seri­
effective treatment against this irrigation of vast areas. Bilharziosis is caused ously. Over several years, Professor Dessein
serious parasitic disease. by a trematode worm (schistosoma) which and his Brazilian co-workers attempted to
eradicate the gastropods (and hence the develops essentially in two hosts: human
parasite) from the water, using chemicals, beings and an aquatic gastropod. Humans
contract the disease by entering rivers where but without producing sustainable results.
the infected mollusc lives. The mollusc emits Likewise, parasite removal by treating in­
the parasite during the heat of the day. The fected subjects with chemotherapy did not
larvae then penetrate the skin and subse­ yield the desired results.
quently migrate into his or her vascular sys­ However, during the initial stages of the
work, a detailed study of the village's popu­tem where, within the space of four to five
weeks, they develop into adult worms. The lation indicated that a significant percentage
more serious clinical forms of infection are of the village's inhabitants were infected to
observed in the most severely-infected sub­ only a minor degree, if at all, whereas in
jects. These include an inflammatory reac­ others the level of parasites was very high.
tion to the parasite's eggs in the liver This pointed to the likelihood of a genetic
factor at work, and researchers began a of the subjects, resulting in serious fibrosis.
Professor Alain Dessein, director of one of study lasting several years. This work is
the research units at INSERM and coordina­ financed by the European Commission,
Sheet N° 182E INCO - INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Medicine and Health
Innovation in Europe: Research and Results
Developing countries
Alain Dessein
de Médecine
Laboratoire d'immunologie
et de génétique des maladies
27, Bd Jean Moulin
F-13385 Marseille Cedex 5
Tel. : +33 4 91 32 44 52
Fax : +33 4 91 79 60 63
E-mail :
which sees it as an opportunity to effective­ human genome maps produced by the
ly combat the scourge of bilharziosis by rely­ team from Généthon (France), this key
ing on man's natural defence mechanisms. gene was formally located in 1996. Named • Universidade de Bahia,
Hospital E. Santos, Brazil Alain Dessein explained that, "We had "Sm1" (after Schistosoma mansoni, the
• Faculdade Mediana
most widespread agent of the disease), this observed that severely-infected subjects
Triangulo Mineiro, Brazil
tended to be grouped within a few families gene is found on chromosome 5. The next • Université Paris VI,
Pitié-Salpétrière, France and not distributed at random throughout step is to understand the function of this
• INSERM U155, Université the population. Likewise, some families gene and to determine its role in the
de Paris VI, France
were comprised solely of highly-resistant immune defence system.
• Kenya Medical Research
individuals. These observations pointed to Alain Dessein concluded that, "It is highly Institute, Kenya
• Cambridge University, probable that Sm1 controls a key phase in the existence of a genetic component con­
United Kingdom
ferring strong resistance. This indicated that anti-parasitic immunity. It very likely plays
we needed to explore this avenue in depth ". an important role in other types of infection
too, such as malaria and leishmaniasis. This Genetic and immunological
factors ¡n human resistance discovery opens up a new avenue for thera­The discovery of the Sm1 gene
to Schistosoma Mansoni
py. It is now possible to imagine a future in In 1991, the results of this genetic field
which drugs will be developed that are able study (known as segregation analysis) Reference
confirmed the researchers' hypothesis: to enhance natural human defence mecha­ TS3-CT94-0296
there was indeed a co-dominant gene nisms against parasitic infections by stimu­
lating the Sm1 gene and the substance it conferring resistance to bilharziosis. All that
Life Sciences and Technologies
synthesises. An important step has been remained was to locate it. In the effort to do for the Developing Countries
taken towards providing the populations of (STD3) so, analysis of the genome of 142
developing countries with drugs that will Brazilians from a cross-section of families
enable them to use water without risk". provided useful clarification. By using the