August 3, 2018
Ruhi Esirgen, left, who was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun at the spring conferment ceremony, with JICA Turkey Office Chief Representative Takehiro Yasui.
JICA Alumni Associations are networks through which people who have participated in JICA's Knowledge Co-Creation Programs in Japan keep passing on what they learned to their home countries.
These alumni associations exist in various countries. Ruhi Esirgen, who established the JICA Alumni Association of Turkey and led it for a long time, was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, by Japanese Government at the 2018 Spring Conferment of Decoration on Foreign Nationals. This article introduces the work of ex-participants of JICA Knowledge Co-Creation Programs (KCCPs), who truly serve as bridges between Japan and the countries of the world.
Every year JICA accepts many people from around the world for the KCCPs in Japan for learning about the country's technology and systems. The number of participants in KCCPs in Japan was 11,931 in 2017, and about 360,000 have been accepted since 1954. People who have participated and returned to their countries are called ex-participants.
In 1968, Mr. Esirgen participated in a KCCP on educational TV as a member of the staff of the Turkey Ministry of National Education's Film, Radio and TV Center. After he returned to Turkey, he succeeded in producing and broadcasting Turkey's first educational television program as a national broadcast. In 1988, he contributed to establishing Turkey's JICA Alumni Association with other ex-participants, and he became the chairman, a job he held until 2008. In cooperation with JICA, the association actively held lectures related to Japan and cultural exchange events.
The participants on the disaster risk reduction training that has been implemented as an action plan and won first place in this year's Action Plan Contest
One of the major initiatives of Turkey's JICA Alumni Association is an "Action Plan Contest." The association has been providing the opportunity for ex-participants to share good practices that have been implemented through their efforts after their return from Japan. This initiative has been going on since 2015. For the contest, their plans and outcomes are evaluated for awards. For this year’s contest, "The Disaster Risk Reduction Training to Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly," which has been implemeted by JICA training ex-participants from the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD), was chosen for the first prize. The chairman of the Turkey-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Caucus, who also is a KCCP ex-participant, attended the contest awards ceremony and congulaturated the winners.
Reflecting on his JICA Alumni Association work, Mr. Esirgen said, "I never dreamed that our meager work would be recognized and that I would receive an underserved honor like [the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays]. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you. Even more than being conferred this honor, it is my lifelong honor to being able to dedicate myself for work related to Japan, thanks to JICA KCCP.
An international conference for ministers from various West African countries and international agencies to discuss human resource policy in the field of health was held in Ivory Coast in May 2018. At the conference, Ndella Diouf, director of the Human Resource Bureau of Ministry of Health and Social Action of Senegal, held a news conference with his counterparts from Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Benin and Ivory Coast. They said developing and employing human resources in the health sector is an investment for social development.
Ndella Diouf, chief of Reseau Vision Tokyo 2010 bureau and the director of the Human Resource Bureau of the Ministry of Health and Social Action of Senegal, speaks in front of ministers from West African countries.
Mr. Diouf and his counterparts are members of Reseau Vision Tokyo 2010 (RVT), a network organized by ex-participants of the JICA KCCP "Human Resource Management in Health Sector for French Speaking West African Countries." Their countries have some similar issues such as vulnerable health services, infection and disease, and they have been working on such problems. This time, their activities were appreciated and they were invited to this conference.
In 2013, West African countries faced the threat of the Ebola virus. Ivory Coast, which borders the epidemic countries, also was urged to take emergency countermeasures. Through the network of RVT, multiple specialists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo hurried to Ivory Coast. DRC has experienced Ebola outbreaks seven times, and therefore they dealt with this difficulty using their practical know-how on such matters as surveillance, risk management, and coordination with communities.
"Thanks to the good human network of RVT, we were able to respond quickly like this," said the director of the Human Resource Bureau of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene of Ivory Coast.
A workshop to raise awareness of environmental problems by the JICA Alumni Association of Palestine
In Palestine, which is in conflict with Israel, there are many constraints, especially in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has de facto control. The JICA Alumni Association of Palestine, established in Gaza in 2004, has continued to do work for people in Gaza with Japan and JICA.
In August 2014, when the situation worsened in Gaza, the association delivered medical supplies, bandages and gauze to hospitals, in cooperation with the JICA Palestine Office.
The electricity supply is limited and unstable in Gaza, which has sometimes caused discharge of untreated waste water from treatment plants into the ocean. Against this backdrop, the ex-participants of JICA KCCPs held several workshops in 2017 to discuss measures for environmental problems. They also held workshops on such topics as human rights, constitutions and international law, and did work relating to medical waste management.
The activities mentioned so far represent just a fraction of the initiatives undertaken by ex-participants of JICA KCCPs. All over the world, more than 60 ex-participants were in Cabinet minister or higher level positions as of December 2017, and many are also serving as high government officials and parliament members.
"As you can see in the cases of Turkey, West Africa and Palestine, the effects of KCCP in Japan are enlarged by the activities of ex-participants. Several of the ex-participants in JICA Alumni Associations who interacted with the people and culture of Japan during their KCCP have become Cabinet ministers or other kinds of leaders, and they are an important and reliable group who are deepening their countries' relationships and trust levels with Japan," said Yoshinobu Ikura, director general of JICA's Domestic Strategy and Partnership Department.