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Opinion

March 1, 2013

South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation Spreading from Brazil

PhotoSatoshi Murosawa,
chief representative of the JICA Brazil Office

By Satoshi Murosawa
Chief Representative of the JICA Brazil Office

In recent years, the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other emerging markets, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and others have joined developed nations in becoming greatly involved in development assistance. As this process has moved forward, the importance of South-South cooperation in which developing countries cooperate together to provide assistance, and of triangular cooperation in which developed nations and others provide assistance for South-South cooperation has been pointed out. Among aid agencies, JICA has been involved in South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation from the earliest stages. As the largest partner driving JICA triangular cooperation, Brazil is a core presence in South-South cooperation in Latin America. As Japan considers international cooperation going forward, it is useful to focus on those efforts.


The Largest Partner Driving JICA Triangular Cooperation

PhotoLucy Sayuri Ito (third from right) is an ethnic Japanese-Brazilian JICA expert who is active in health projects in Mozambique

Since its start in 1985, triangular cooperation with Brazil has expanded each year, until in 2011, there were 17 third-country training programs in which participants were received from other developing countries, 26 people dispatched in third-country experts programs to other developing countries, and 10 collaborative projects. Favorable economic conditions have made it possible to support such initiatives and for Brazil to increase its influence in the international community as a member of the BRICs and G20, becoming an emerging donor proactively engaged in development assistance. The independent budget of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) has increased markedly in recent years, reaching approximately 53 million reals (approximately 2.1 billion yen) in the 2011 fiscal year budget, about three times that of 2008. Concurrent with those budget increases, triangular cooperation with JICA has expanded.

Characteristics of triangular cooperation with JICA and Brazil are the fact that cooperation to those African nations with Portuguese as a common language started at an early stage, in 1989, as well as the expanding scale of cooperation. Another notable characteristic is the large number of ethnic Japanese engineers and researchers that are active as experts, drawn from Brazil's ethnic Japanese community that is said to have approximately 1.5 million people.

The Koban System Spreads around Brazil and to Other Latin American Countries

PhotoJapanese experts (left, middle) provide guidance to a Brazilian police officer in a project to spread community policing based on the koban system

With large-scale events imminent in Brazil—the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics—security issues in Brazil are drawing the attention of the world. Implementation of the Japanese koban system (community police boxes) has been very successful, and is now being extended to other Latin American countries.

The rate of murder, robbery and physical crimes is high, particularly in the urban areas, and is a source of social unease in Brazil. Over the past two decades, safety has worsened markedly particularly in São Paulo State, where São Paulo, the largest commercial city in Latin America, is located. To improve safety, the São Paulo State Military Police introduced the concept of community policing, and began implementation of an independent koban system in 1997, looking to the Japanese model with the aim of becoming "a police force coexisting with citizens for citizens." JICA has provided assistance for this initiative over the 11 years spanning from 2000 to 2011, dispatching experts and providing training in Japan. The koban system that resulted was adapted to meet the needs of São Paulo State, and the model is steadily taking root in other areas of the state with plans for expansion throughout Brazil.

The koban initiative is also spreading to other Latin American countries that, like Brazil, struggle with crime problems. JICA has conducted training in Brazil since 2008 for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, and provides triangular cooperation for community policing activities based on the koban system. A large number of requests from different countries have come in for full-fledged cooperation with Brazil, leading to the launch of a triangular cooperation project in 2009 with Honduras, in which Brazilian experts were dispatched, as well as the conclusion of a triangular cooperation agreement in march 2012 between JICA, ABC and the São Paulo State Military Police with the objective of further promoting and strengthening cooperation for Latin American countries. Triangular cooperation projects are expected to also be launched in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala.

A problem that Latin American countries share is how to clean up the bad image that residents have of the police, such as crime and corruption involving police officers and connections to drug organizations. The process of introducing and spreading the Brazilian model of the koban system, created through Japanese cooperation, is a favorable model for countries with backgrounds and problems similar to Brazil.

Collaborative Promotion of an Agricultural Development Project in Mozambique, Africa, with an Eye toward Global Food Security

In 2012, a massive drought struck North America, a major production area for wheat and other crops. Although concerns over soaring wheat prices resulted, there was no despair over an impending global food crisis as in the past. Behind this change was the emergence of Brazil as a major agricultural exporter on par with the U.S., brought about by a transformation of the Cerrado from infertility to the largest producing region in Brazil through an agricultural development project that received cooperation from Japan. This evened out the reliance on crop production areas, stabilizing crop supplies and prices, of help in particular to poor countries and the lower class.

If a new agricultural production region could be created, following the U.S. and Brazil, the food supply could be improved even further, improving the lives of poor people. Based on this idea, a large project aiming at another agricultural revolution is moving forward in Mozambique in southern Africa. The driving force behind this challenge is triangular cooperation with Japan and Brazil.

With Mozambique as the principal actor, this project is known as Triangular Cooperation for Agricultural Development of the African Tropical Savannah in Mozambique It began in 2009, targeting the area surrounding the Nacala Development Corridor from the Port of Nacala, the gateway to northern Mozambique, to Malawi and Zambia. This program is singularly focused on improving the lives of local residents in the target region through inclusive local economic development with attention to the environment. What's more, the area around the Nacala Development Corridor is said to have a vast amount of land suited to agriculture, and large-scale agricultural development and an infrastructure project with assistance from Japan and others are expected to contribute to the socioeconomic development of local residents and to meet the food demand in surrounding countries and the world.

For raising plant varieties suitable for the location, Brazil's agricultural technology will be useful as it was developed in the Cerrado for tropical crops and is the best in the world.

Brazil as a Newly Emerging Market and Japan with Assistance Expertise

PhotoA member of the São Paulo State Military Police gives a talk to participants who have gathered from nearby countries.

Brazil continues its remarkable rate of economic growth, and while it desires to be strong on the front of international cooperation, the country has not yet accumulated much experience in international cooperation. Given these circumstances, the knowledge and network in international cooperation that JICA has are extremely valuable.

For Japan, in a long period of low growth and severe ODA budget restrictions, using its accumulated knowledge and providing cooperation with partner countries are key to building networks in every country and maintaining and strengthening its presence in the international community.

In Latin America with its continued growth, there will be a rising number of countries that no longer receive ODA, and triangular cooperation is expected to become the core of the cooperation relationships with Japan. Germany, the U.K., the U.S. and other developed country donors are strengthening their approach to emerging country donors in Latin America, and competition has already risen among donors to acquire partners for triangular cooperation. To further promote triangular cooperation, issues identified in cooperation thus far will need to be resolved, good case examples such as the koban system built up, and an appeal made to the international community. These will have a powerful effect not only in Latin America but for cooperation in other regions as well.

About the Author
Satoshi Murosawa
Born in Kyoto in 1957, Satoshi Murosawa joined the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1981. Areas he has worked in include the Emigration Service, the Training Affairs and the Social Development Study. He has also worked in the JICA Paraguay Office, the Secretariat of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, the Latin America and the Caribbean Department and the JICA Mexico Office. In 2011, he took his current post as chief representative of the JICA Brazil Office.

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