A busy market scene in Freetown, Sierra Leone/
Africa was the birthplace of mankind but after decades of social, economic and political turmoil, it is the world’s poorest continent. However, a new sense of optimism is pervading many parts of the region. Reflecting both the continent’s needs and its potential, JICA in recent years has been increasing its commitment, opening new offices and participating in a wide range of projects. They include such ‘traditional’ areas as improving health and education systems, developing vital infrastructure, strengthening agriculture and training key personnel to tackling more recent problems such as climate change and its devastating effect on the environment and vulnerable populations.
After a long war of independence and a subsequent civil war Mozambique had been virtually destroyed. It is still one of the world’s poorest nations, but there is a renewed sense of optimism here it may soon become a major breadbasket for the region.
Development aid is often about glamour—new sports stadiums and airports. In Sierra Leone, however, there is an emphasis on the nuts-and-bolts of help, improving the basic skills of engineers, teachers and nurses and strengthening educational curriculums or administrative blueprints.
Africa is spectacularly beautiful. But the splendor often hides poverty. Even the addition of a simple well providing safe and regular water supplies can transform the lives of villagers. In Ethiopia, JICA is working on such projects and other programs in areas such as health and agriculture.
The people of Burkina Faso have made hardly impact on global climate change. But they are suffering some of the worst effects. One project is helping the country preserve dwindling forests while at the same time helping villagers support themselves.
A legacy of the 1990s genocide in Rwanda are thousands of former disabled combatants from both sides of the conflict. They not only have to come to terms with history but also overcome such physical disabilities as blindness. One project is helping these veterans.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. But many women among the 150 million populations are seriously disenfranchised. Some of these women are now being taught new skills which will enable them to lead more active social and economic lives and support their families.
The idea is simple. Local communities should concentrate on a particular economic activity where they enjoy an advantage—abundant natural resources or human skills. A group of Kenyan young people have started a thriving silk industry on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
Nobuhiro Kadoi was bitten by the "African Bug" and fell in love with the continent. Now he is helping to fight another bug, being deeply involved in the HIV/AIDS battle in Tanzania.
Crossing national frontiers in Africa is often a nightmare. The border bottleneck also costs billions of dollars in lost economic activity. In addition to helping build new infrastructure, JICA is helping to streamline and make more efficient interminable customs, immigration and traffic logjams.
A new water pump can help transform village life, improving health, economic and social activity. But when the water pump breaks down all of the gains can be quickly lost. How to avoid such a problem.
During years of civil war, the southern Sudan capital of Juba was virtually abandoned. Now, it is a booming frontier city, probably the fastest growing urban center in Africa. It needs new infrastructure and social services to maintain the boom times.
Children worldwide often avoid these subjects whenever possible. But science and maths are vital to economic progress and JICA and 33 African nations have joined to promote these activities by improving curriculums and teacher skills.
Millions of Africans do not have enough food to eat. JICA, in cooperation with other organizations and key growing countries, is hoping to double the continent’s production of rice by 2018 enhancing overall food security.