The text below is based on the priorities stipulated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic concerning bilateral international development cooperation (see here for additional information)). The strategy of international development cooperation of the Czech Republic 2018-2030 stipulates six priority countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Georgia, Cambodia, Moldova, Zambia) for the current period of 2018-2023; the identification of the countries is based on the following criteria: need for development cooperation, interest in cooperation with the Czech Republic, results of the past development cooperation, and division of labour among the donors. Cooperation with the individual priority countries is elaborated in separate documents.
In respect of the above, our objective is to compare the current status of bilateral development cooperation with the offer of Czech nanotechnology business entities – and to identify opportunities that could help accomplish the goals of the cooperation and introduce Czech products and technologies to the respective markets. This would ultimately reinforce the reputation of the Czech Republic as well as the bilateral relationships, with potential positive secondary effects without limitation to business relations.
On the general level, nanotechnologies fit very well into the concept of international development cooperation – not only can they provide a solution to specific environmental, health, or technical problems on a local level, but each of the countries needs support in the area of implementation of new technologies to promote the local business sector. And it is exactly here that the Czech Republic, a rather small country with an excellent international reputation in several areas of nanotechnology, can be an interesting source of inspiration.
The point of intersection of the said specific problems can be found, above all, in the area of water management, which is illustrated by the existing cooperation programs below, together with other examples. We strongly believe that Czech nanotechnologies have something to offer for all of the examples included herein and that they would help improve the current adverse situation and reinforce the reputation of the Czech Republic as an important business and political partner.
As indicated above, in the case of Moldova the significance of water for the development of the local economy is visible immediately:
Moldova is qualified as a country suffering from a “water stress“The quality of water is insufficient due to inadequate sanitation and excessive use of fertilisers. The technically obsolete infrastructure in decay causes outages in water supply and considerable losses. Up to 60% of the population have insufficient access to water sources. A large quantity of obsolete pesticides from the Soviet era is still used in Moldova. Waste management is ineffective and lacks systematic stimulation, waste recycling is very limited.
The Czech Republic has already been active in this area and nanotechnologies could represent a welcome addition. Use of filtration technologies makes sense in the sector of wine production where nanotechnology business entities successfully implemented several projects:
The sector of water and sanitation saw completion of projects of refurbishment of water purification stations, disposal and liquidation of 450 tons of pesticides, and installation of pumping stations for extraction of petroleum products from ground water. A survey of drinking water sources took place in the south of Moldova. In agriculture, a project of high significance is underway to create a wine register in order to improve access of Moldovan producers to the European market.
We see a logical link between the first described objective of the development cooperation and the nanotechnology offer of the Czech Republic that would facilitate the accomplishment thereof:
Sustainable management of natural resources: Improvement of protection, use, and development of water sources and quality; restoration of water sources; elimination of contamination; improved access to high-quality drinking water; wastewater management, including systematic measures.
A study of the Georgian development plans reveals the interesting reference to “green technologies”:
In June 2014, the Georgian government approved the strategic document Socio-Economic Development Strategy of Georgia – Georgia 2020“defining six priority sectors: economic growth (improvement of the business environment, tax reform and taxation system reform, further development of agriculture, development of transport infrastructure); development of human capital (enhancement of the education system); legally consistent state and justice (independent judiciary system and suppression of corruption); appropriate governance (development of democratic processes, decentralisation of public administration); sustainable use of natural resources (green technologies); social care and healthcare (definition and enhancement of standards)
The Czech Republic has already helped with sustainable use of natural resources; and again, opportunities in the area of water management can be seen here and the same applies to use (and storage in particular) of electricity:
In agriculture, the extraordinary assistance of the Czech Republic was concentrated in the western part of Georgia in order to support cooperative farming and to enhance the capacities of small-scale farms. Another project was aimed at providing drinking water for eight villages in the buffer zone along the administrative border between Georgia and South Ossetia. Solar panels were installed in the remote area of Tusheti to provide for power generation and water heating.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Water, its (in)sufficiency and contamination represent one of the leading topics of the program for Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Although the water supply and sewerage systems are being developed gradually, a high proportion of the population still do not have their homes connected to the water supply system (33% according to MDG UR) and the sewerage system (60% according to MDG UR). This means that one of the most important areas of need for Bosnia and Herzegovina is the development of sustainable public infrastructure for water supply, waste management and sewerage in line with the principles of responsible use of natural resources and environment protection, also in the context of the potential future accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU and the related requirement for compliance with the relevant Union standards. At the same time, the quality of water needs to be improved by means of reducing contamination and minimising discharge of harmful chemical substances.
Power generation is an area of similar significance – and again, with relevant links to Czech nanotechnologies:
The energy production process relies mostly on fossil fuels. However, the country has significant potential to exploit renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal and solar power generation; these sources, unlike hydrogeneration, do not have a large negative environmental impact. Fully in line with the commitments undertaken by Bosnia and Herzegovina within the Energy Community, it is apparent that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to increase the share of energy produced by renewable natural resources and to participate in the development of the related infrastructure in order to make such energy available to the public.
The basics to be developed further can be found in waste management in particular:
The long-term projects implemented in the sector of water and sanitation are focused mostly on refurbishment of water purification stations and development of sewerage systems, provision for access to drinking water, and development of waste management.
Zambia is a country with a broad range of issues to be tackled; however, the general focus on management of natural resources and environment in general is also dominant here:
The development of the rural areas will be based on all three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental). The objective will be reached through intensification and diversification of agricultural production, introduction of integrated approach to farming with interlinked crop and animal production, with maximum use of the farm resources while taking into consideration the available natural resources and social aspects of the development of the rural areas.
Access to drinking water and its sanitation represent one of the most essential problems of Cambodia:
The principal emphasis is on reduction of poverty and social exclusion and also on sustainable management of natural resources with focus on water and sanitation (WASH), including expansion of water management infrastructure and education. (…)
Despite the accomplishment of the development objective in the area of access of the population to drinking water and sanitation thereof, there are still a lot of remote villages without sanitation and access to drinking water. Rural and remote areas lack permanently accessible sources of drinking water in particular, while the essential problem of urban areas lies in wastewater management.
Linked to the above are the measures and objectives to be pursued by the Czech development cooperation:
Universal and equal access to safe and affordable drinking water, to appropriate sanitary equipment for everyone in selected locations within the focus area.
It is not surprising that emphasis on management of water and other natural resources is present also in the case of Ethiopia:
In order to satisfy the priorities of the development cooperation, the Czech Republic will focus particularly on support of the development of rural areas and agriculture, and on provision for sufficient food supplies while protecting the land and ensuring sustainable land and forest management. Additional focus will be on sustainable management of natural resources, particularly water.
Rectification of the current situation would bring a considerable improvement of living conditions and thus also the economic situation in the country – therefore, the objective of the development cooperation is the following:
Provision for universal, equal access to safe and affordable drinking water and provision for appropriate sanitary equipment for everyone, with special focus on needs of women, girls, and young children by deployment of sustainable drinking water supply systems. This objective will be accomplished through activities related to development of water management and technical infrastructure.
This article is a part of the project Nanotechnology for Smart Cities as a Tool for Sustainable Development supported within international development cooperation of the Czech Republic.