[DAR ES SALAAM] The Tanzanian government plans to double its funding for scientific research projects to US$600,000 in the next financial year, and to step up is efforts to ensure that the results of such projects are put into practice.
Yadon Kohi, director-general for the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology says that the move reflects the fact that scientific research is moving up the country's political priorities. It follows the government's decision last year to boost the total budget for science and technology to US$86 million (see Tanzania boosts funding for science), most of which is used for technology development programmes
"It is encouraging that the government has now started to allocate a convincing amount [to research] in its budget," he said. "In 1995 the budget for research was less than US$20,000. It was increased to US$30,000 in 1996, then US$150,000 in 2000 and last year it was increased to US$300,000, but next financial year it will be doubled," he said.
The new funds will be managed by the National Fund for the Advancement of Science and Technology, which was established in 1976, but has been largely dormant since 1980 due to a lack of support from the government.
Kohi said that Tanzanian scientists have carried out a substantial amount of agricultural research, but the results often remained unused, and have not been harnessed in the country's development. He argues that this it is due to a lack of coordination and monitoring of research in the country.
In order to address this problem, the fund will use some of its budget to communicate the findings of its researchers in simple, non-technical language, helping policymakers to use the findings to influence government decisions.
The rest of the money will be used to fund both the conduct of research and the publication of research findings, as well as monitoring whether such research findings are put into practice.