Fifteen (15) time zones separate Japan from El Salvador, they are literally on opposite sides of the world. Yet despite the distance they share some things in common, the hard working spirit of its people, competitive human resources, vulnerability to natural disasters, and scarce natural resources are some of them.
The friendly relationship between El Salvador and Japan has more than 80 years, and since the arrival of the first Japanese volunteers in 1968, the people and the Government of Japan have worked together to find the best alternatives for the sustainable development of Salvadorans. Many Japanese citizens have left a trace on the path to progress of this small but thriving Central American country; likewise many Salvadorans have been able to learn firsthand about the expertise and techniques developed in Japan.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, is the bridge linking Japan with developing countries, and it has offered its cooperation to El Salvador on priority issues making Salvadorans leaders of their own development with the aim of building a more peaceful and prosperous world. Among the areas in which JICA's cooperation has focused its efforts are the Development of the Eastern Region (San Miguel, Usulután, La Union and Morazán), disaster prevention, environmental conservation, energy efficiency, strengthening of local industry, education, rural development, gender equity, among many others.
In El Salvador JICA´s assistance is provided through Technical Cooperation Projects, Official Development Assistance Loans, Training Program in Japan, dispatch of Japanese Volunteers, among others to enhance cooperation in the areas mentioned above.
I would like to highlight some of the projects implemented in the recent years: Dispatch of JICA's Expert Advisor to the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency (STPP) to strengthen the development of the Eastern Region; Gensai project, which supports the Department of Climate Change Adaptation and Strategic Risk Management (DACGER) of the Ministry of Public Works, through which Salvadoran technicians have strengthened their capacities for the construction of stronger public infrastructure and for the efficient management of natural disasters; In the field of disaster prevention, we are providing strong support through a stand-by loan, with approved funds for up to 5 billion yen for reconstruction works in the event of a natural disaster, this is the first loan of its kind in Central America provided by JICA; Additionally, the Project for support in Mathematics Education (ESMATE), which improves the teaching methodology of this subject and will develop teaching materials for middle school and high school.
I also want to highlight the contribution of the Japanese Volunteers program, through which Japanese citizens have been able to share their knowledge and experience in various fields, and have strengthened friendship and cooperation bonds between the countries.
All this has been achieved by bearing in mind JICA's Institutional Vision: "Inclusive and Dynamic Development," which essentially encourages all people to recognize the development issues they themselves face, participate in addressing them, and enjoy the fruits of such endeavors. Furthermore, JICA joins the international community's action by directing its cooperation towards the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) incorporating the concept of human security, one of Japan's most important contributions to development.
The General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SG-SICA) is located in San Salvador. A dialogue between SG-SICA and JICA in October 2015 recognized the importance of working with cross-border issues such as logistics and mobility, improvement of infrastructure against climate changes, conservation of biodiversity and wetlands, and gender equity among others. JICA is currently working on the formulation of projects to address these cross-border issues in close coordination with SG-SICA and its commissions through JICA´s Expert Advisor.
Finally I want to express my commitment to work with the Salvadoran people and government, as well as with SICA and its commissions to build an inclusive and dynamic development for all.
JICA El Salvador