Nicaragua is located in the middle of the Central American region, with a population of approximately 6.5 million people, and a territory with a dimension equivalent to the Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu. It is a country with lots of greenery, beautiful lakes and volcanoes. I have the impression that Nicaraguans are cheerful, friendly and honest people. Also, it has an idyllic atmosphere because even in the center of the capital, Managua, there are still horse-drawn carts on the streets.
JICA began its activities in Nicaragua with the sending of the first volunteers in 1991, and celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2021. JICA Nicaragua, in the 90s, after the civil war of the 80s, has mainly supported social development in sectors such as health and education, agriculture, basic infrastructure for drinking water as cooperation for the reconstruction of the country. Since 2000, in line with the growth and development of Nicaragua as a country, JICA Nicaragua began to support economic development, in addition to aid for social development, by supporting road and energy infrastructure, local development, urbanization planning of the capital city, Managua, as well as risk reduction for development by strengthening capacities to respond to natural disasters.
Nicaragua was growing steadily, however, recently it is going through a very difficult situation. The division between the government and opponents that occurred in April 2018 caused a temporary deterioration in security and a downturn in the economy. Then, there were signs that the situation was gradually improving, however, entering 2020, COVID-19 hit the world, and Nicaragua. Additionally, Nicaragua was affected by a series of major hurricanes in November 2020.
The situation in Nicaragua continues to be difficult, but it is precisely at times like this when there are things we should and can do.
JICA Nicaragua, in addition to cooperation to address the situation due to COVID-19 and natural disasters, based on the results of cooperation and experiences accumulated to date, will be promoting cooperation in urban development, revitalization of the local economy, improvement of social services that are necessary for people's lives such as health and education, and in disaster prevention and environmental conservation so that people can live with peace of mind.
Now, I would like to share a joyful event. Although the Tokyo 2020+1 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been greatly affected by COVID-19, this sporting event became an opportunity for a Host Town to be created for Nicaragua in Japan. The Host Town for the Nicaraguan athletes is the city of Kanra, Gunma Prefecture. On behalf of JICA Nicaragua, we want to take care and support this bond of friendship and trust both before and after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
JICA Nicaragua will continue to make the best efforts to provide cooperation that the people of Nicaragua really need, cooperation that takes advantage of the best and strengths of Nicaragua, and contributes to the healthy development of both Japan and the international community. We want to implement cooperation that will bring the desire of the Japanese people to the heart of the Nicaraguan people, to further strengthen the bond of trust that has been created to date.