March 28, 2012
Today, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a memorandum with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on assistance for a drought relief project on the outskirts of Jijiga in Somali Region.
The Horn of Africa, the northeastern part of Africa that includes Eastern Ethiopia, is composed of mainly arid and semi-arid land with little rainfall, making it fragile and never far from drought and famine. In addition to the scanty rainfall during the major rainy season around October 2010, inadequate rain fell during the minor rainy season around April 2011. It is being described as the worst drought in the past 60 years, and refugee camps are being set up for refugees from Somalia and within Ethiopia in Ethiopia's Somali Region.
To meet the local water needs, JICA has started a new project in the Jerer Valley and Shebele Sub-basin of Somali Region. The objectives of the project are to reinforce and repair the water supply system, to formulate a mid- to long-term water supply plan, and to strengthen the response to droughts that occur on a continuing basis in the region.
The signing of this memorandum will allow UNHCR to provide the support needed for the smooth implementation of the project, including the supply of UN vehicles for JICA personnel working on the project to use locally, the sharing of safety information, and the use of office space on the UNHCR premises. Japanese consultants will begin work on the project in Ethiopia on April 3.