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November 26, 2017

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and the Maldives
- History of Cooperation between the Maldives and JICA -

On November 26th 2017, the commemoration ceremony was held in Male, the capital of the Maldives, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Maldives. The Chief of the guests were H. E. Dr. Mohamed Asim, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives and Mr. Iwao Horii, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. The photos to introduce JICA's cooperation including the activities of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) boosted the mood of the reception.

PhotoIn the Maldives, many people are pious Muslim living in small islands and engaging in fishery.

Maldives consists of some 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean. Although the country enjoys the reputation for the world's first-class resorts with white sands and blue seas, it is in fact only 110 islands that have such resorts. Many people are pious Muslim living in small islands and engaging in fishery. The island country confronts development challenges because of its geographical condition and fragility. JICA has been assisting Maldives in addressing those challenges.

Cooperation for fishery, Maldives' traditional local industry

JICA's cooperation for the Maldives started in the 1960's. In 1965, fishing hooks for bonito were provided as a part of the very first technical cooperation. In the following year, the first two trainees were received in Japan. They, too, were from fishing sector. JICA continued its cooperation toward Maldives' fishery industry, a traditional local industry. In the 1990's, JICA extended cooperation for installation of freezing storage, contributing to improvement of value-added of fishery products by preserving their freshness. Today, Maldives's bonito catches ranks 10th in the world, part of which appears on Japanese dinner tables as dried bonito flakes (or "Katsuobushi").

JICA is currently extending technical cooperation "Project for the Formulation of Master Plan for Sustainable Fisheries (MASPLAN)" since 2014, where experts support diversifying fishing resources other than tuna and bonito. As a result of the activities, diamondback squid was discovered from the bottom of the deep sea in November 2016, which was broadcast widely by local media. It is expected that outcome of the project will be utilized and contribute to sustainable development of fishery industry in the Maldives.

Deliver information to protect people's lives

PhotoJapanese experts giving training on the fishing boat

Receiving timely information such as weather forecast or storm warning is very important for people living in small islands and engaging in fishery. In the 1970's, JICA started dispatching experts in a communication sector. JICA has been contributing to the development of information communication network in the Maldives by providing assistance for telecommunication network in the 80's and television network in the 90's. In May 2017, JICA signed a grant agreement for "the Project for the Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting Network Development", supporting introduction of Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) television network in the Maldives.

ISDB-T has a feature called Early Warning Broadcasting System (EWBS) that can disseminate information immediately in case of natural disaster. In 2004, the sea walls constructed under Japan's grant aids in the 90's "The Project for the Seawall Construction in Male Island (Phase I - IV)" protected lives of people in the capital city Male from the Indian Ocean tsunami. It is expected in the future that quick information delivery through EWBS will enable people's prompt evacuation at the time of natural disaster such as cyclone, high tide, or tsunami.

Partnership toward future

PhotoJOCV conducting arts and crafts class

JICA has received more than 1,000 trainees from the Maldives, contributing to capacity development in the sectors such as fishery, energy, governance, environment, and human resources. It is worth noting that some of the ex-trainees have been promoted to cabinet members. In 1982, JICA started dispatching JOCVs to the Maldives. Since then, 340 volunteers have been actively engaging in the fields of education, agriculture, and tourism. Many volunteers stay active even after their return to Japan, forming an alumni organization and contributing to enhancing the partnership between the two countries at the grass-root level.

JICA will continue to address various development challenges together with the people of the Maldives.


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