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
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
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
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.