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In the background

Reader's write - Letters

I would like to add a little more context to the comments attributed to me in the article following my recent appearance before the science and technology select committee (NCE 17 June).

DFID is finalising a new central research strategy and last year the ADP co-hosted one of the consultation workshops designed to help collate 'big ideas' for the strategy. The final draft identifies four commendable key researchable problems - agricultural productivity in Africa, killer diseases, states that work in the interests of the poor and climate change.

These issues will receive two-thirds of the central research funding. DFID has delayed making a decision on the level of engineering research it will fund in the future, pending an evaluation of its existing programme of work in this area.

While an evaluation of the on-going programme of engineering work is to be welcomed, we must not forget that infrastructure is not a stand-alone component.

The outcome of the four areas of research identified will need adequate water, sanitation, access, communication, energy, buildings etc if they are to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

I was heartened to read that 67% of the NCE500 believe that the UK government should give a higher priority to improving infrastructure in developing countries; equally I am most grateful to Chris Ruffley for his letter of support (NCE 24 June).

Peter Cameron, chairman, appropriate development panel, ICE 1 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA

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