Following scientific advances in some parts of the developing world, TWAS is moving to intensify some key initiatives to focus on 66 countries where science and technology are significantly lagging.
The immediate effect of new policy will be to reserve many TWAS research grants for scientists from those 66 countries. Similarly, all PhD fellowships offered by the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) will be reserved for scientists in these countries.
"Over the past three decades, TWAS has worked with many partners and allies to advance scientific progress in the developing world," said TWAS interim Executive Director Mohamed Hassan. "Though progress has been great, it has also been uneven. It is important now that we focus on scientists in those countries where the needs are greatest and most urgent."
The new TWAS list includes the 47 Least Developed Countries identified by the United Nations, plus countries selected because of their low income levels and specific needs for support in building research capacity.
The new list will help assure that TWAS resources are offered where the needs are greatest. Of 66 total countries on the TWAS list, 39 are in sub-Saharan Africa; 15 are in the Asia and Pacific region; seven are in the Latin America-Caribbean region; and five are in the Arab region.
Beginning in 2007, key TWAS programmes targeted 81 countries listed as S&T-lagging. The new, shorter list reflects the patterns of scientific development in the South. Some countries have achieved signficant progress in the past decade, but others – many of them profoundly poor – are struggling to keep pace.
Experts in science and development have noted the widening science gap between emerging countries and those that remain locked in poverty. TWAS leaders have commited to initiatives that will help to close the gap.
The new list will affect two programmes in particular:
- TWAS Research Grants funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). However, TWAS research grants funded by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) will not change.
- The OWSD Postgraduate Fellowships. The Sida-funded programme typically offers more than 30 fellowships per year for PhD studies at a centre of excellence in the South.
In all, 20 countries moved off of the old TWAS S&T-lagging list. Five countries were added onto the new list: Bolivia, the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, Sri Lanka, Swaziland and Syria.
Edward W. Lempinen