Overseas Aid with a Touch of Taiwanese Bamboo Craftsmanship
Employing Taiwan’s strengths in bamboo industry development, the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) is providing technical assistance to countries in Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Project teams in Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador have achieved initial success, demonstrating how Taiwanese official development assistance (ODA) has been changing and innovating with time. This is also a solid example of how the Taiwanese government is working with partner countries to overcome the challenges delineated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).In the past, TaiwanICDF bamboo projects focused on bamboo cultivation, bamboo furniture making and bamboo shelters for post-disaster reconstruction. In recent years, in response to evolving approaches to international cooperation and the diversifying needs of partner countries, the project theme has shifted to the consolidation of the bamboo industry’s value chain, including the nurturing and extension of healthy seedlings, the introduction of crafts techniques, design and marketing concepts, and the industrialization of manufacturing processes. Based on Taiwan’s experience, capacity building has been carried out for government officials, business owners, designers, and farmers to boost the overall development of the bamboo industry. Taking the projects in Nicaragua and Guatemala as examples, the TaiwanICDF has laid a solid foundation for the cultivation of talent and sustainable development of the bamboo industry according to the two countries’ respective needs, by providing bamboo crafts training sessions, consultancy services and assistance in institutional and policy frameworks. The project team in Guatemala has so far mentored around 30 enterprises, providing guidance on how to breakthrough bottlenecks in product quality, distribution and marketing. Moreover, the project team has assisted the provincial government of Santa Elena in Ecuador to establish the first modern bamboo factory, which aims to enhance the added value of bamboo products through state-of-the-art equipment and high-quality bamboo veneer. Meanwhile in the Dominican Republic, the emphasis is on consolidating all components of the industry to meet the current stage of its market for bamboo products. To date, the project team has conducted national surveys on bamboo resources, and invited Taiwanese consultants to train talents for universities with architecture and design disciplines.For our bamboo producing partner countries, developing the bamboo industry can have tremendous implications for their transition to a green economy, and six of the 17 SDGs are closely related to this vision In addition to growing rapidly, the bamboo plant helps to conserve water and soil, making it a popular substitute for wood in recent years. In the face of important global issues such as poverty reduction, transition to renewable energy, sustainable production and consumption, and climate change, the TaiwanICDF continues to collaborate with partner countries to devise roadmaps for technical cooperation. With Taiwan’s experience and expertise as foundations, these ODA projects are conveying, one after another, inspiring stories, and are the best manifestation of the Taiwanese government’s steadfast diplomacy.