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October 15, 2008

New JICA New Challenges
Toward Inclusive and Dynamic Development

President Robert Zoellick,
Dear Colleagues and Friends
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you very much, President Zoellick, and all those distinguished members on the panel, and all of you here today. I would first of all like to thank very much that you have taken interest in the new JICA and agreed to be here at the joint hosting of the JICA, World Bank joint event. We are starting own collaboration with concrete areas of action, as the President has just mentioned, through a trust fund in the agriculture sector in Africa.

We are meeting today as the world is undergoing a series of tectonic changes rarely seen throughout history.

For months, tremors have been running through the world’s financial system threatening its very foundations.

In just a few short decades, the nature of conflict has changed and today we have seemingly unending ethnic, tribal or national conflicts or disturbances.

The word ‘globalization’ itself encompasses a whole series of problems and challenges…climate change, food and energy crises and the spread of infectious diseases which cross borders and continents as fast as the speed of the latest jetliners.

No one, not even the rich nations, are immune from the impact of these problems. But the gap between the ‘haves’ and the have-nots’ is increasing and inevitably it is the world’s most vulnerable people who suffer the most, particularly women, children and the aged, the so-called ‘bottom billion’  people who are concentrated mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Along with the rest of the world, the international donor community is also undergoing fundamental change. Traditional donors such as Japan, the United States and European countries are being joined by emerging donor countries such as China and India. Private and government funds are becoming increasingly important and today non-official actors account for more than 60 percent of financial flows to developing countries.   

Today I would like to focus on the recent establishment of New JICA. And this just took place on October 1st. My organization, JICA incorporated the overseas economic cooperation section of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, JBIC. New JICA is now the world’s largest bilateral development aid agency with a budget of approximately 10 billion dollars and operations in some 155 countries.

The main advantage of the reorganization is that for the first time a single agency will be able to offer a complete package of assistance to developing countries—some 160 billion yen (or approximately 1.6 billion dollars) in technical assistance, 100 billion yen (or approximately 1.0 billion dollars) in grant aid and a further 770 billion yen (7.7 billion dollars) in soft loan for medium to long term development. Our field operations are backed up by the presence of some 3,000 volunteers, both junior and senior volunteers, all over the world. So it’s a variety and a whole range of possible schemes that we can make use of.

During my first five years as JICA president, I emphasized a field based approach to JICA operations. Staff were moved to field positions encouraging closer grass-roots cooperation between them and local communities. Projects were planned and implemented more closely to meet the specific needs of those people we are there to help.

Underlying this field-led approach is the concept of ‘human security’ which gives the primary focus of development assistance to the wellbeing and security of people and local communities and has been incorporated into the many strategy of JICA projects.

The concept, just going back a little bit to its origin, first gained international attention with a publication in 1994 of the development report by the UNDP. It was an attempt to add a ‘human face’ to economically focused development assistance.

It gained credibility in Japan during the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis which sparked major social upheavals adversely affecting millions of people in the region. The then Prime Minister Obuchi suggested that economic progress was inextricably linked with stable social conditions and proposed the concept of ‘human security’ as a way to provide a social safety net for vulnerable people.

Japan and the United Nations took joint steps to develop this concept, and at the UN Millennium General Assembly decided to establish the Commission on Human Security to define this concept. 

After leaving the post of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the end of 2000, I was asked to co-chair the Commission with Nobel economist Amartya Sen.  The Commission subsequently submitted a report, which emphasized that security could no longer be guaranteed by state structures alone but with the empowerment of the people and local communities through education, health management and provision of various social safety measures.

In Japan, the ‘human security’ concept was incorporated into the ODA policy framework and became the cornerstone of my own agency’s policy and action. JICA has endeavored to reach those in need through human security based projects which were to be more inclusive and cross-sectoral in character.

Now that JICA’s traditional area of expertise, technical assistance, will be directly linked to grant aid and soft loan, a greater impact can be expected with our assistance programs and I would like to summarize our approach which has been put together under the so-called 3S’s of ‘scaling up’ ‘speeding up’ and ‘spreading out’ .

So, what exactly do I mean by ‘scaling up’ our operations?  It means both making more effective use of newly combined assets in such physical infrastructure development projects with overall capacity building of people and institutions. In other words tackling both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ infrastructure development as part of a joint approach.

Examples might include the construction of a municipal sewage system using yen loan, while at the same time strengthening the personnel and administrative structures of the local or national implementing agencies.

JICA will shortly launch a 30 billion yen climate change project in Indonesia which will integrate physical infrastructure development with wider capacity building in a range of sectors including energy, forestry, conservation and water.

While JICA has for many years been widely involved in training tens of thousands of persons in their individual ‘capacity development’, we will ‘scale up’ our activities in this area by becoming more involved in strengthening the power of organizations and institutions to become fully in charge of policy making and law enforcement.

A particularly relevant aspect of our efforts to ‘scale up’ development assistance is an increased emphasis on strengthening science and technology, particularly in developing information and communications technology (ICT).

Rwanda, with JICA’s help, for instance, is using ICT in a variety of ways to improve its health and education services as well as its socio-economic infrastructure. Egypt is expanding its science and technology network through establishment of the Egypt Japan University for Science and Technology project. And in Asia, ASEAN countries are involved in a five-year project to establish a network of university engineering departments in a project known as SEED-NET.

The ultimate expression of ‘soft capacity’ building is our decision to establish the JICA Research Institute. Taking a political-economy approach to development studies, I expect this Institute to attract researchers not only from Japan, but also from abroad.

A small but significant beginning has already been made in studies comparing Asian and African development patterns from an inter-disciplinary perspective. Soon, I expect the Institute to join the international intellectual community of scientific researchers and practitioners.

While scaling up our efforts, we must also speed up assistance, the second so-called ‘S.’ Particularly in post-conflict and natural disaster situations, we must be prepared to offer not only emergency help, but link it quickly and directly with medium and long-term reconstruction and development assistance.

A host of post-conflict activities were launched in Afghanistan in 2002 and it comprises the areas of education, health, but also rural and urban development. Another example of such a project can be found in southern Sudan where some of the millions of people uprooted by the war have begun to return to regions totally devastated by years of conflict. To speed up this rehabilitation process, JICA helped construct a port on the River Nile, just as the Blue Nile and the White Nile meet, in the southern capital of Juba. The port facilitates the movement of not only people, buy food and freight to one of the most inaccessible regions of Africa. Life is slowly but surely returning to this remote part of Africa. And I was very, very encouraged to visit this part, earlier this year.

To deliver the most effective assistance to developing countries, donors must also ‘spread out’ their respective activities, and this is the third S. Donors, partner countries, non governmental agencies I(NGOs) and private business need to strengthen their cooperation to provide more effective and timely help.

JICA will work closely with the World Bank both in helping to formulate common international strategies to address increasingly complex development problems, but also at the practical level in coordinating field activities.

Spreading out’ also means increasing the impact of development assistance to communities in recipient countries through their getting better jobs, more jobs, better healthcare, better education and all other social benefits.

Development assistance must embark on a dynamic process. Poverty reduction, for example, requires economic growth, entailing the development of new governing structures and systems covering the widest range of people.

Key to this process will be the successful inclusion of people who not only participate in solving problems but then can enjoy the fruits of this success. Likewise, tackling problems associated with globalization calls for a participatory process that encourages the active input by developing countries which will become both the ‘owners’ and the beneficiaries of development.

The issues facing people in developing countries are complex, diverse, and ever-changing. To meet the needs of these people, it is important to offer them creative and effective solutions. Over the mid- to long-term, a virtuous cycle of economic growth and poverty reduction should be promoted.

These ideas are the basis of JICA’s new vision of “inclusive and dynamic development.”

To realize this vision, we shall continue to act in accordance with the concept of human security and field-based management.  The “3S’s” strategy that I have just outlined will be the operational directives by which JICA will try to maximize the effects of our activities.

I hope very much that today’s event will be the first step toward mobilizing our common action, together with the World Bank and all the  related collaborators to accelerate the development process in all countries which are represented here today.

Thank you.

By Sadako Ogata
President of JICA


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