Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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13.3 Magnitude of Current and Future Technology Transfer

Currently, technology transfer activities in the waste sector focus primarily on the development of basic urban infrastructure. In many regions, particularly in developing countries, urban populations lack basic solid waste disposal and wastewater treatment services. As a result, these populations suffer from a host of public health and environmental problems, including increased disease and mortality. The need for expanded services is well recognised, and substantial investments have been made in the past 10-20 years to develop infrastructure. In spite of large investments, however, the task of providing adequate waste services to the world's population is far from complete. Substantial additional investments are needed in many countries to keep pace with rapid urbanisation, economic development and population growth.

There is limited information of a comprehensive nature on current and future capital flows in this sector. A recent study (Bartone, 1997) reported that between 1988 and 1997, the World Bank lent over US$1 billion to 70 municipal solid waste projects. Most of these projects addressed solid waste management as part of larger municipal improvement initiatives; only three were dedicated to the solid waste management sector. In addition, this report noted that solid waste management consumes between 10 and 40 per cent of many municipal operating budgets. Providing water services (including both supply and wastewater treatment) is similarly expensive, reaching millions of dollars at the municipal level and billions at the national level (Gentry, 1997).

Between 1960 and the 1980s, public investment in water and sanitation in developing countries was roughly 0.4 per cent of gross domestic product (Serageldin, 1994). More recently, interest in private investment has grown. According to the United Nations, for example, about 250 infrastructure projects were being considered as of 1996 for private finance. Only 5 percent of financing for water projects currently comes from the private sector, however (Gentry and Fernander, 1997).

An examination of the remaining needs for wastewater and solid waste management services indicates that substantial investments will be required in the future. Thus, identifying funding sources and encouraging private sector investments will be increasingly important.

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