Konrad Vielhauer:
Linking Research and Development in Southwestern Burkina Faso


University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Germany

One of the great challenges of our times is to effectively link tropical research in the fields of social, economic and natural sciences with the actual development work that is under way at grass root level. The big institutions, both from the research and the development side are largely fixed into long-term agendas, such as clearly defined programs and projects, that allow only little mutual influence or impact, certainly not at short notice. But if development is supposed to be researched for and to be researched at efficiently, research results have to be applied quicker and for that, knowledge has to be transferred faster. This is especially difficult with PhD and MSc theses. These works are not transformed into development action immediately, but only after long periods of data analyses and writing up, followed by the relevant publications that make the information accessible to the greater public, which might then decide to pick it up. Ideally, good research results should be transformed into broader scale testing much earlier. To achieve this, the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn has signed an agreement with the Dreyer Foundation in Munich. The goal of the Dreyer Foundation is professionally based development work in the southwest of Burkina Faso that includes agricultural and environmental development, training of academics and non academics as well as support of children in need (orphans, better schooling). In view of that the Dreyer Foundation is constructing a research and training centre near the town of Dano in Burkina Faso to be utilised by interdisciplinary activities connected with the rural development of the region and beyond. The common administration of both development and research activities, i.e. by sharing technical staff and other resources as well as more flexible funds will provide the grounds for quick transformation of promising research results into practice. On the other hand the development activities of the Dreyer Foundation will greatly help to identify the most urging research questions. Currently three projects of ZEF or with ZEF participation are accommodated at Dano: GLOWA-Volta, BIOTA West Africa, Virtual Institute.

Keywords: Culture, hydrology, irrigation, research and development, small dams, socio-economy, sustainability, West Africa


Contact Address: Konrad Vielhauer, University of Bonn, Center for Development ResearchWalter-Flex-Straße 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: kvielhau@uni-bonn.de
Andreas Deininger, September 2004