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October 24, 2011

VIBRANT AFRICA- THE POWER OF PEOPLE

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The exhibition featured photographs from around Sub-Saharan Africa taken by professional photographers, JICA experts as well as volunteers. It also featured a dedicated corner to explain JICA's approach from the One Village One Product (OVOP) movement and display a sample of the work of the producers in Africa.

Date: 1-7 November 2011
Venue: the Brick Lane Gallery, ‘ANNEXE' 93-95 Sclater Street, London, E1 6HR
Special Evening Presentation: 3 November 2011
"Community Development and Supporting Livelihoods: Combating Challenges"

The JICA UK Office hosted an evening presentation, "Community Development and Supporting Livelihoods: Combating Challenges" on 3rd November. This was a part of JICA UK's photo exhibition series, "Vibrant Africa: Power of People", which focused on the positive side of African stories that often neglected in development discourse. Following a successful collaboration with the Embassy of Japan for the initial exhibition, this second exhibition was held at Brick Lane Gallery and received further success with over 120 visitors attending.

The evening seminar started with a presentation about One Village One Product (OVOP (PDF/928KB)) activities in Asia and Africa by Mr. Kimiaki Jin, Chief Representative of JICA UK. OVOP is a "movement", which the principal actors are the inhabitants of a community and they are encouraged to identify local material, natural or cultural resources and to device methods to add value to them. The second speaker was Mr Jaya Thursfield, Managing Director of Karti Market, an entrepreneur dealing with fair trade and ethically resourced products. He presented the challenges in working with local intermediates and in artisan product development. During his presentation, he pointed out the importance of support for adding values to local artisan products through design and integration into the global market. Mr Isaac Strang from Bloom Microventures, UK Charity focussed on innovative projects combining tourism and micro investment. He emphasised the difficulty of scaling up the projects. Dr Fletcher Tembo from Overseas Development Institute (ODI) acted as a main discussant in the evening and explained challenges that OVOP producers are facing in Malawi in terms of establishing a market and sustainable business environment. He also emphasised the technical difficulty of adding value to local products due to the fact, for example, that some particular materials for bottling are not locally produced and this creates a requirement to purchase from neighbour countries and leads to upwards pressure on their overheads and affects the competitiveness of OVOP products.

The exhibition also showcased OVOP products from Kenya and Malawi as well as local products from Ghana and Kenya, which are supported by Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). In addition, JICA recently collaborated with MUJI, a Japanese homeware company, for its Christmas gifts. Total of 8 products are produced through OVOP assistance by JICA.

JICA UK has now a dedicated corner to showcase a sample of the work of the producers in Africa supported by OVOP and JOCV at our office, including woven baskets, shea butter products from Ghana, soap stone ornaments and wood curved bowls, spoons from Kenya, banana wines and baobab jams and palm oil soaps from Malawi.

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