July 23, 2014
Valerie Amos (left), United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, and Akihiko Tanaka, JICA president, after the signing
On July 23, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to build a new partnership. The MOU renews the two organizations’ commitment to respond more effectively to humanitarian needs in this rapidly changing world where issues surrounding international humanitarian aid are becoming more complex. The signers to the MOU were Valerie Amos, United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, and Akihiko Tanaka, JICA president.
The need for humanitarian action continues to increase throughout the world, due to frequently occurring large-scale disasters as well as prolonged and recurring internal or regional conflicts. In recent months alone, we have witnessed increasing humanitarian crises in Central Africa, Iraq, Palestine, the Philippines, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine. Humanitarian and development actors must work together closely to reduce vulnerabilities and increase the resilience of people at risk to not only respond when a crisis strikes but also to anticipate, prevent, and reduce risks.
The signing of the MOU takes place at the same time as over 100 people who work on humanitarian issues are gathering together in Tokyo on July 23 and 24, 2014 for the North and South-East Asia Regional Consultation of the World Humanitarian Summit. Discussions will focus on humanitarian effectiveness, reducing vulnerability and managing risks, transformation through innovation, and serving the needs of people in conflict.
Following the signing of MOU today, OCHA and JICA will explore ways in which the two organizations can enhance their collaboration, especially in promoting preparedness for emergency response in developing countries. This includes support to disaster management authorities and other humanitarian actors, mobilizing Japanese resources and expertise for deployment for effective humanitarian response, participation in and contribution to coordination efforts, and the development of tools and services.
In relation to this, Tanaka said, “It is crucial that humanitarian and development actors join forces. There is no sequencing from humanitarian to development work. Both responses have to be planned simultaneously; the difference is that some actions need to be taken immediately and others a little later. Collaboration between OCHA and JICA will make the humanitarian and development nexus stronger and more effective.”
To commemorate the signing of the MOU, OCHA and JICA organized a joint symposium, “Humanitarian Development Nexus: A New Paradigm of Humanitarian Action and Development Cooperation.” Participants discussed the current humanitarian environment and how humanitarian and development organizations can better serve people in need.
Concerning the relations between the two organizations, Amos said, “With the new collaboration between OCHA and JICA, I believe we can more strategically promote preparedness for effective response, especially by building the disaster management capacity of governments, and help first-responders to be better prepared.”