the Basic Sciences
Uppsala University , Sweden, 15-16 June 1995
lnternational Conference on Donor support
1.Capacity-building in the basic sciences
2. Support for research and higher education in the
3. Increased coordination and cooperation
4. Improved access to information
5. Better statistical information regarding support for
Rehabilitation of African universities
The basic sciences - biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics - provide a fundamental
under-standing of natural phenomena and the processes by which natural resources are
In the Third World, development-oriented research and
higher education in the basic sciences have received but a negligible share of total
available resources from domestic and foreign sources. One unforeseen consequence of this
situation has been that the indigenous base for education and technology has remained
precariously weak. Another has been that the scientific communities of the recipient
nations have had a limited influence on the kind of research being carried out within
their own countries.
It was concluded at the International Conference on Donor Support to Development-Oriented
Research in the Basic Sciences--held at Uppsala University, Sweden, 15-16 June 1995--that
a foundation in the basic sciences is essential for all
research in the applied sciences and for long-term development;
adequate funding for the basic sciences from domestic
support and external aid programmes is necessary to ensure that such a foundation exists
for appropriate technology and specific fields of applied research and that quality is
maintained at all levels of education;
support to development-oriented research in the Third
World should include emphasis on the basic sciences;
a strategy for support to the basic sciences should be
articulated by each developing country and its national institutions and should be geared
to solving specific development problems in that country; and
research questions within the basic sciences must be
chosen judiciously with the future development needs of the specific country in mind.
This last point may imply directing resources toward a
limited number of research topics within the basic sciences. Such topics are likely to be
of a multidisciplinary character.
There was broad consensus among the Conference participants that the following measures
need urgent attention for the promotion of the basic sciences within the framework of
research cooperation with developing countries and/or development assistance to those
the basic sciences
National development requires a research and educational capacity in the basic sciences.
Various strategies exist for building a cadre of researchers in these disciplines.
In cases where no cadre of this sort yet exists, such as in the least developed
countries, national governments must make a long-term commitment, with the help of donors,
to giving direct support to research and higher education in the basic sciences. In
situations where such a cadre already exists, continued support for
capacity-building can appropriately be channelled through problem-driven research.
Support for research
and higher education in the basic sciences
Donor support to applied projects should include grants to research and higher education
in the basic sciences, whenever this is appropriate and requested by recipient
institutions and countries. For example, support for capacity-building in molecular
biology could be included in funding for a health-related project and support for
capacity-building in chemistry and physics could be included in funding for an
Whenever possible, donors are encouraged to support the development of home-based research
and education capacity in the basic sciences in Third World countries. Strategies for the
transfer of project ownership to these countries are essential to this process. One
example of a successful effort to build domestic research capacity is the M.Sc. programme
at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.
In some countries, qualified researchers are not engaging in research because of
inadequate salaries, poor employment conditions and lack of incentives for active
research. National authorities and external donors should jointly investigate alternative
solutions to this problem with the goal of reconciling different approaches.
Donors are also encouraged to increase their support through existing and well-functioning
science programmes oriented toward developing countries, such as the International Centre
for Theoretical Physics, the International Foundation for Science, the International
Science Programs and the Third World Academy of Sciences.
coordination and cooperation
At a time of shrinking aid budgets throughout the world, it cannot be expected that
research assistance budgets will remain unaffected. Donors are therefore urged to improve
coordination among themselves and specifically to seek synergies between the various
projects they support.
One way to encourage better coordination among donor agencies is through the establishment
of national and institutional research strategies in the recipient countries. The efforts
of Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique to facilitate donor coordination provide an
example in this regard.
Donors interested in supporting basic sciences are encouraged to make active use of
on-line communication, for example through the facility called Bellanet. The Conference
calls upon UNESCO, through the Third World Academy of Sciences, to take the lead in
promoting such communication.
Cooperation among developing countries regarding the basic sciences should also be
increased, for example through mechanisms such as the establishment and support of
regionally organized post-graduate training programmes and South-South training and
The Conference also urges close attention to the importance of realizing synergies between
programmes providing long-term institutional support in the basic sciences with those
providing short-term grants to individual scientists.
Improved access to
Access to information is essential to the development of research and higher education in
the basic sciences in the Third World, but resources available for the development of
libraries are limited. Modern technologies that complement printed literature resources
and increase information access, such as CD-ROM systems and e-mail connections, should be
high on donors' agendas of support to universities and other research institutions in
In planning their support for library facilities and information technologies to support
research, donors are encouraged to communicate and cooperate with programmes and
organizations experienced in these areas.
information regarding support for basic sciences
Detailed and reliable information is urgently needed regarding support to research and
higher education in developing countries, including in the basic sciences. Current donor
assistance statistics are generally insufficient and seldom broken down to specify support
to the basic sciences. The Conference calls upon the Development Assistance Committee of
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UNESCO to initiate
measures for solving this problem.
A major rehabilitation of research and teaching infrastructure is critically needed in
most of the African universities as a prerequisite to the development of capacity in
science and technology. Support for particular research and education activities is not
sufficient for this purpose; capital assistance is also required to finance the rebuilding
of facilities and major equipment purchases. Both donors and national authorities are
urged to engage in serious dialogue to secure the necessary support for the required