September 29, 2016
Yamada Weir was built to mitigate a strong current and deliver water to an irrigation channel.
Medical doctor Tetsu Nakamura, left, and Mr.Fahimullah Ziaee, right, a Vice Minister from the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water, eagerly exchange opinions.
Participants visit agricultural land and an irrigation channel that use water from Yamada Weir.
JICA provided training in traditional Japanese flood control and irrigation techniques June 25-26 in Fukuoka prefecture to a group including 14 Afghan graduate students studying at Japanese universities.
The training, on which the World Bank collaborated, was the brainchild of famed Japanese medical doctor Tetsu Nakamura, who is known for his humanitarian work in Afghanistan in sectors including medical care, agriculture and water supply.
While working in Afghanistan, Dr. Nakamura observed that the alternating droughts and flooding that characterize Afghanistan's weather make it difficult for rural residents to procure a stable supply of water.
Among the achievements of Dr. Nakamura and the international NGO he leads — Peace Japan Medical Service (PMS) — is an irrigation project in eastern Afghanistan, where a PMS clinic is located, that was based in part on the Japanese nationally designated historical sight Yamada Weir and Triple Waterwheel in Asakura city, Fukuoka prefecture. Dr. Nakamura's wish to teach Afghans studying in Japan what he learned from his experience with that project led to this training.
The training consisted of a study tour of Asakura led by Dr. Nakamura, as well as lectures by him. The 48 participants saw Yamada Weir and Triple Waterwheel and learned about Dr. Nakamura and PMS' implementation in Afghanistan of the same technology, which requires no electricity or heavy equipment and has little effect on the ecosystem.
Yamada Weir and its associated irrigation facilities pull water into rice fields from the ChikugoRiver, one of the three rivers in Japan most likely to overflow their banks. The stone weir, built in 1790, is inclined at a 20 degree angle to the current to alleviate the high water pressure and control flooding. This technology is found nowhere else in Japan. The weir continues to carry water to some 484 hectares of rice fields. A rare triple waterwheel built at the same time as the weir based on several innovations by local residents helps carry that water to 35 hectares of rice fields.
In addition to the Afghan students, participants in the study tour included their professors, a deputy minister from the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water and personnel from the World Bank. JICA offered Afghan students opportunities that they can share their studying progress and get more realistic feedback communicated with a deputy minister, Dr. Nakamura and other relatives stale holders.
The 14 Afghan students are among 269 engaged in research in Japan to acquire their master's or doctorate degrees under JICA's Project for the Promotion and Enhancement of the Afghan Capacity for Effective Development(PEACE).
PMS and JICA are currently engaged in another irrigation system improvement project in the suburbs of Jalalabad, Nangarhar province. The project, which is scheduled for completion in September 2016, is expected to make it possible for some 40,000 people to farm on irrigated land.
Nakamura, with his abundant experience providing assistance on the ground, is serving as the leader of the PMS project. The PEACE project aims to train human resources who will be responsible for building up the country of Afghanistan in the future. The HYMEP project is trying to gather and utilize hydrological and meteorological information nationwide for contributing more effective water resource management in Afghanistan.
As with this training, JICA will make maximum effective use of opportunities to deepen mutual understanding through each project and work through all of them to support the comprehensive development of Afghanistan.