JICA has been extending its cooperation to the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) since 1991. In the beginning, JICA's cooperation was delivered mainly through the volunteer activities by Japan overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) that focused on the development agenda of the country such as education, health, economic activities and environment. In 2021, we were supposed to celebrate the 30 years anniversary of JOCV cooperation in RMI, however, the main casts were forced to return to Japan in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and no volunteer has been in action in RMI since then.
The government of RMI has been maintaining very strict border control policy, and thanks to that, RMI is one of few Covid free countries in the world. Having been through the three weeks quarantine, I finally arrived Majuro on February 1st, 2022. Last one month, I actively visited various government departments and agencies, and I met quite a few officials who told me the memories with JOCVs. Some volunteers taught them either Math or Japanese language in the schools, and those officials told me the stories with the volunteers nostalgically as well as proudly. Volunteers actually touched the hearts of people in this country. The more I know the impacts of volunteers' activities, the more I wish to bring them back to this country again. I do hope that the pandemic will come to an end soon, and peaceful days are back to restart volunteers' activities.
RMI is a small country consisting of many atolls in the Pacific, which is known these days as one of the most affected countries by the climate change posed by global warming. As RMI is located away from the route of typhoons, severe natural disasters are not likely to hit this country, however, during high tides in the spring tide, sometimes the waves overcome sea banks and flood the roads. People in this country call the phenomenon as "King tide", and the government announces precautions in advance. We are witnessing that sea levels are rising year by year.
Possible actions for mitigation against the climate change are limited in this country, because the sources of global warming are mainly created in other areas of the world rather than in the Pacific region. JICA as well as the Japanese government are, therefore, implementing projects for adaptation, such as a grant aid project for "the improvement of water reservoir at Majuro Atoll" or a technical cooperation project for "Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries Phase 2 (J-PRISM II)". JICA will further continue projects that support the wellness of the people in RMI in harmony with the environment surrounded by the beautiful ocean, and also paying attention to strike a balance between traditional life and globalization.
Since my arrival, I have met a lot of pro-Japanese people in this country. They are speaking to me in a very friendly manner when they know that I am from Japan. I feel happy as well as proud that I am able to take part in the state building process with the people in RMI, under the solid relationship of trust, and deep friendship that have been created over the years by the various JICA related persons through the international cooperation.
JICA Marshall Islands Office