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Last Update : Friday, Sep 16, 2016

International Cooperation

JapanGov Weekly

Japan International Cooperation Agency [Monday, Sep 12, 2016]

Japan Disaster Relief Infectious Diseases Response Team Dispatched for 1st Time, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

JICA dispatched its Infectious Diseases Response Team for the first time, from July 20 to Aug. 7, 2016 to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to help combat a yellow fever outbreak.

The Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Infectious Diseases Response Team was formed in October 2015. It is made up of staff members from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JICA, as well as infectious disease experts, and it works to minimize the spread of infectious diseases.

The team carried out three main types of work in the DRC:
1) Advising the Ministry of Health
2) Supporting diagnosis of yellow fever
3) Providing technical assistance for preparations of vaccination campaigns

A yellow fever outbreak occurred in Angola in December 2015, it affected to the DRC, a neighboring country, in April 2016 . More than 1,900 suspected and confirmed cases have been identified in five provinces including the city-province of Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC. Out of those suspected cases, 95 people died as of July 20, 2016.

Yellow fever is transmitted via Aedes (Stegomyia) aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, and the main symptoms are fever, headache and nausea. There are no effective treatment medications, but it can be prevented with a vaccine.

Delivering seamless assistance — which connects emergency assistance with various projects in times of natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks — is a strength of JICA.

Since mid-June, the national laboratory of the DRC has been unable to make definite diagnoses due to a shortage of reagents. There is a need for the high level of knowledge required for examination and diagnosis, which is a Japanese specialty.

JICA has carried out multiple projects in the health field in the DRC, and it is currently supporting the training of health care workers. By dispatching the Infectious Diseases Response Team, JICA assisted with emergency response to an infectious disease outbreak, and JICA personnel now are thinking about carrying out a project to clarify measures for stopping the next outbreak after this outbreak has ended.

The Infectious Diseases Response Team's contributions are not only the on-site activities but also training for domestic personnel for overseas activities. As more personnel specializing in infectious diseases are trained, it is expected that the team will be able to provide a broader spectrum of assistance. Noriko Suzuki, head of the JDR Secretariat, has made clear her intention for JDR to engage in emergency disaster and infectious disease responses with such various trained experts to meet whatever the needs are.

Japan International Cooperation Agency [Monday, Sep 12, 2016]

JICA Expands Financing by Investing in Microfinance Fund for Women’s Empowerment through JICA’s Private Sector Investment Finance

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement for equity participation in the “Japan ASEAN Women Empowerment Fund” (JAWEF), which is managed by *BlueOrchard . JICA will invest up to thirty million dollars in the fund. Sumitomo Life Insurance Company (Sumitomo Life), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and other investors from Japan will also invest in the fund along with JICA.

In developing countries, due to the gender inequalities found in poverty and educational opportunities, as well as forced child marriage and high maternal mortality rates, the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN sets the goal of “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.” ASEAN countries share the issue of achieving gender equality as a regional challenge. The “Roadmap for an ASEAN Community 2009-2015” issued in 2009 stresses the importance of gender mainstreaming throughout the region and emphasizes investment in vocational training for women and assistance for female entrepreneurs.

The Japan ASEAN Women Empowerment Fund aims to contribute to the empowerment of women, and especially to the improvement of financial access for low-income women in the region through expanding financing to microfinance institutions focusing on the empowerment of women in Asia, particularly in ASEAN countries. This fund was outlined in a speech made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in November 2015 when he announced an initiative to form a new fund for microfinance focusing the empowerment of women.

JICA will encourage the mobilization of funds from Japanese institutional investors by reducing the risk held by private investors. JICA’s investment is expected to also promote the understanding of the functioning of “impact investment” among Japanese private investors, resulting in further investment from the private sector.

JICA continues to meet the challenges of poverty reduction and gender equality by organizing investment from the private sector to make improvements in those areas, and JICA’s equity financing in the form of JICA’s Private Sector Investment Finance will create momentum toward such improvements.

* A Swiss based Fund Manager specialized in management of Microfinance Fund.

Japan International Cooperation Agency [Tuesday, Sep 13, 2016]

Signing of Grant Agreement with Uganda: The Project for Improvement of Gulu Municipal Council Roads in Northern Uganda

On September 13, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement (G/A) with the Government of the Republic of Uganda to provide grant aid of up to 2.136 billion yen for the Project for Improvement of Gulu Municipal Council Roads in Northern Uganda.

This project will improve Gulu city roads by repairing pavement and road shoulder destruction caused during two decades of civil war in the northern region of Uganda, eliminate traffic obstructions caused by flooding in the rainy season and resolve other related problems.

Located in Northern Region, Uganda, Gulu has a population of 154,000 people (2011), and has been a base of economic activity recovery since the conclusion of the civil war, which started in the 1980s. As an entrepot for the so-called Northern Corridor that connects Kenya and Uganda, Gulu has become a hub for the regional economy and transportation and has contributed to the peace-building process in South Sudan in recent years. The city roads, which support the regional economy and the flow of goods, have become dilapidated due to inadequate maintenance and management during the civil war. Repairing the Gulu city roads is important from the perspective of restoring the transportation function of the city, which is a base of recovery for the region, and building a living and economic infrastructure for people. As Gulu is a key connecting point on the international corridor to South Sudan, the road repairs are also important from the perspective of achieving smooth flow of goods.

This project will ensure smooth, safe travel and improve the living environment for residents along the roads by repairing main roads in Gulu and building water drainage and other facilities for the roads. JICA will continue to contribute to the stimulation of economic activity and the establishment of peace in Northern Uganda by supporting projects including this project under the JICA Reconstruction Assistance Program in Northern Uganda.