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Life after Graduation from JICA Pacific-LEADS : Approaching Disaster Management with Newfound Insight (February 2022)

Edward Maru, who works at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) in Solomon Islands as a Chief Meteorological Officer, speaks about his experience and learnings during his time as a student at University of the Ryukyus, in Japan.

Life after Graduation from JICA Pacific-LEADS : Approaching Disaster Management with Newfound Insight

Name: Edward Maru
Country of Origin: Solomon Islands
Faculty and University: Graduate School of Science and Engineering, University of Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan
JICA Course: Pacific-LEADS (FSY 2016)

Research Area/Theme: Weather prediction, Meteorology, Disaster risk management, Cyclone mitigation

How he got to know JICA

Before moving to Japan, Edward Maru lived in Solomon Islands, which is located in a high-risk cyclone zone. In trying to prepare for and mitigate potential disasters, he realized that understanding the characteristics and risks of tropical cyclones is essential.

He found out about the JICA scholarship while studying in Solomon Islands and was intrigued by the high-quality research on tropical cyclones conducted in University of the Ryukyus. In 2016, he went to Japan to study in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering at University of the Ryukyus, with the goal to study Meteorology, especially tropical cyclone in contributing to his country's preparedness and disaster risk reduction. His research topic was "Statistical Analysis of Tropical Cyclones in the Solomon Islands".

Why He Studied Abroad in Japan


"One of the reasons I chose to study in Japan is because it is one of the most developed countries in the world, with superior technological growth", says Edward while talking about his experiences. He was impressed by the hard-work, honesty, kindness and respect attributed to the Japanese people in their way of life and profession.

Understanding their culture and way of working enriched his knowledge and skillset to a large extent and he is especially grateful to students who helped him along the way.

In his free time, Edward enjoyed exploring the streets of Okinawa and trying out different cuisines.

Turning point -Meeting the Professor at the University of Ryukyus


"In University of the Ryukyus, I was fortunate to have worked with my supervisor – Professor Kosuke Ito who is an expert in the field of tropical cyclones. As a result, I got to attend conferences, and intern at Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) which gave me valuable insight on how they approach weather forecasting using advanced technology", says Edward while reminiscing about his experience. He adds that he also visited Tokyo on several occasions to attend programs such as the Pacific –LEADS 01st Batch Joint activity organized by JICA and Asia- SEED. He also attended workshops and conferences together with his Supervisor, all of which further enriched his experience.

Taking Back His Learnings to His Home Country


"The experiences I obtained due to my JICA scholarship have greatly benefitted me in my current role as the Chief Meteorological Officer at MECDM. After coming back to Solomon Islands, I observed an improvement in the quality of my work, from the application of skills I picked up in Japan on weather forecasting", says Edward.

Edward also accompanied his professor to Tohoku University in Japan, where they met fellow researchers working on tropical cyclones, and exchanged ideas on the topic.

"One of the most notable outcomes of my two-year-long research with Professor Ito is the development of Solomon Islands Meteorological Services Numerical Weather Prediction, which is a high-resolution weather forecasting model. It has been operational since August 2020 and produces 3-day forecast on precipitation , surface wind direction and wind speed .

Advice for Prospective JICA Scholars

Edward highly recommends studying in Japan, since it exposes students to Japanese development and industrial growth. "It is a golden opportunity which fosters young leaders to play a vital role in resolution of development challenges', says Edward.

Edward adds that one must not miss the opportunity to observe and learn from the rich Japanese culture and their ways of doing things, their approach to life and bring back this knowledge to one's home country.

"The Pacific-LEADS program now SDGs has given a huge opportunity for developing high-level human resources within each nation participants".

Edward concluded and emphasized that participants must be the bridge between Japan and their country by maintaining the relationship.

JICA is for Life

Edward continues to stay in touch with his colleagues and his professor over Email and Facebook, for the exchange of ideas and information. The networks he built in Japan play an integral part in his professional life to this day.