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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

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Practical solutions by Practical Action

‘Practical Action’ is the working name of Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG). It functions as a non-profit INGO which works with communities aiming to develop and build the technical skills of the poor in the region enabling them to improve the quality of their lives and that of future generations.

Practical Action’s regional office in Colombo, oversees work in Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. Their vision is “A sustainable world free of poverty and injustice in which technology is used. Their focus is on building capabilities of the poor and improving access to technical options and knowledge.

Practical Action’s main aim is to uplift living conditions by introducing modern technology which increased efficiency. A workshop was held at Practical Action’s auditorium recently to promote the advantages of the projects.

They mainly focus was on two projects, Janathakshan Project (community technology) and Nano Project. Janathakshan is a project initiated by Practical Action to provide practical and effective answers to communities’ problems so that they are better equipped and empowered with technical know-how and information that has a direct bearing on their day-to-day lives and livelihoods.

The regional director of Practical Action Dr Vishaka Hidellage explained that the Janathakshan project was started in 2005 and proceeding really well today. It has a web portal from which people can connect with Practical Action in order to find out practical answers to their problems. They help rural people. Mostly their target is fishermen, farmers and people who are involve in small industries. Practical Action tries to convince them how to do sustainable development avoiding negative out comes to the environment.

The poor are not exposed to the technology based industries but they always use human resources to over come any issue. So Practical Action tries to increase their access to modern technology in a practical manner. They have resolved many problems by doing so.

Nano project deals with developing a regulatory framework for nanotechnology related activities in Sri Lanka.

Prof Ajith de Alwis, Project Team Leader Sri lanka Institute of Nanotechnology and Moratuwa University Senior Lecturer is doing a wonderful job in developing a regulatory frame work for nanotechnology. According to him, nanotechnology is considered one of the most promising technology developments currently taking place in the global arena. Sri lanka entered into nanotechnology research development and deployment when the national nanotechnology initiative was started in 2006 with the approval of the cabinet memorandum submitted by President, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The objectives were to generate a critical mass of personnel supported by the necessary facilities to innovate at a national level. To promote nanotechnology-based research and develop industries and to attract best Sri lankan expertise, both here and abroad, was an objective from the inception.

This was a landmark event as it is the first time in Sri Lankan Science and Technology that such a focused programme has been initiated. NANCO Pvt Ltd was launched as a Board of Investment Venture with the aim of establishing a science park. To demonstrate research and results to the industrial community, the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) was established. “This institutional development has received international recognition and today we are looking forward to the initiation of the program towards the first Nanoscience Park in the country,” said Prof Ajith de Alwis. It is important that the country has a stated policy in nanotechnology. Currently the national Nanotechnology policy for Sri Lanka has reached the final stages of its development.

The project is led by the National Science Foundation which comes under purview of the Technology and Research Ministry. There are six components of the overall programme, such as Regulatory framework-global understanding to local development, occupational health and safety, socio economic impacts, ethical and moral challenges, experience sharing and communications for public engagement and assessment of nanotechnology developments.

The six elements are separately handled by key public and private institutions namely National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, Sri lanka Standard Institute, Institute of Policy Studies, Practical Action and Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology. The ethical framework is developed by a group of consultants led by Prof Anoja Fernando, Chairperson of the Committee on Ethics in Science at National Science Foundation.

As Prof Alwis mentioned, it is really important to develop the country’s nanotechnology since it has many advantages. It reduces negative impacts on environment. It makes the production process easy, it needs less row materials and less labour. It has a lot of advantages and it could be used in each and every field. It is very important to use nanotechnology in the proper way to grasp its maximum advantages.

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