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February 12, 2015

Japanese Bicycles Help Tanzanians Commute to Work and School
Ibaraki City sent 500 bikes to the Siha District at the request of an official participating in a JICA training program

photoAbout 500 bicycles stand in a row at the handover ceremony.
photoGodlisten Kileo says he can now concentrate on his studies thanks to the bicycle he received.

A gift of 500 used bicycles arrived in the Siha District, Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania, from Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, on Oct. 9, 2014.

The bicycles were sold to fund health services for the elderly, orphans and disabled people in the Siha District. All 500 sold for 80,000 Tanzanian shillings (roughly US$45) each. A similar bicycle generally goes for 200,000 shillings (US$112).

In Tanzania, which lacks good transportation facilities, bicycles have a high utility value and are used for commuting to work and school, as well as for farm work.

A boy whose father bought one of the bicycles had previously walked four hours per day round trip to and from his junior high school 8 kilometers away. He said having the bicycle allows him to concentrate in class and on his homework after school.
“I now can do my best. I am grateful to my father and Japan,” said Godlisten Kileo.

Ibaraki City's ties to Tanzania developed when it conducted JICA-sponsored training of Tanzanian government officials from 2002 to 2013. The donation of the bicycles came about when two participants in the training, Rashid Kitambulio, executive director of the Siha District, and Aggrey Mwanri, a member of Parliament for the district, paid a courtesy visit to the mayor of Ibaraki City in 2013 and said their district would like to use the city's discarded bicycles to sell to fund the health services. The idea first arose as part of talks of a possible sister city relationship between Ibaraki City and the Siha District.

The JICA training program covered decentralization and regional development in Japan. As a method of fighting poverty, African countries had been implementing decentralization of government authority as recommended by European nations and the United States. Tanzania began decentralization in 1998, but its local governments lacked the capacity to effectively take over the responsibilities being handed to them. In light of this, Tanzania and other African countries began studying the Japanese model of national development.

JICA responded to the needs of Tanzania by conducting several programs to support its decentralization and local government capacity building efforts. The training in Ibaraki City was one of those programs.

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