• Japan is working with almost all the 47 counties in different projects
• Small projects of about Sh10 million are having a huge impact on communities
Japan, one of the largest developed economy, was a donor aid recipient country in the 1940s and 50s.
For instance, Amb Ryoichi Horie says the highway and railway between Tokyo and Osaka were built through a loan from the World Bank. Having joined the Bretton Woods institution in August 1952, a number of other projects were implemented with World Bank loans for the development of the nation’s economic foundation.
These ranged from electric power generation, basic industries development, transportation, water and infrastructure. It is through an $80 million World Bank loan that the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train) Line started operation in 1964.
Japan now donates to developing countries, among them Kenya.
“We want to see Kenya and developing countries live on their own resources and become a donor to other needy countries,” Ryoichi told the Star in an interview last Thursday in Nairobi.
“In this cooperation, we go for partnership and ensure ownership of these projects by Kenyans.”
He says his mission is working with almost all the 47 counties in different projects and his target is to ensure he visits all of them. So far, he has been to Migori, Elgeyo Marakwet, Narok and Kiambu, and is scheduled to visit Kakamega.
“From my visits, I realise there is a need to support elementary schools in Kenya,” the envoy says.
He notes some nursery schools are in bad shape, some without toilets, and “it is wrong for children to be staying in such a manner, especially girls”.
In this regard, he notes while cooperation in huge infrastructural projects is important, small projects at the range of about Sh10 million have a huge impact in communities in transforming their lives.
"The projects bring so much happiness to children and you see that they appreciate," he says.
To support agriculture, which is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, the Japan International Cooperation Agency is running an initiative called Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion in rural areas.
The 10-year-old programme aims to meet consumer demand through market-oriented farming. It also involves shifts to more in-demand crops and adoption of new agricultural practices. It further encourages cooperation among groups of farmers and promotes gender equity in farming households.
“Participants, organised into groups of around 25 farmers, are trained to conduct market surveys and given opportunities to meet and exchange information with market actors, such as intermediary traders,” Jica says.
"Working with the government’s agricultural extension officers, each group develops an 'action plan', and is taught practices meant to improve crop production based on their action plan."
Ryoichi said the initiative is in 18 counties and there are efforts to have it across the 47 counties. He further noted that improving farmers’ income will make agriculture lucrative.
On the locust invasion that threatens food security, the envoy said Japan is helping to handle the crisis. “We have helped procure the necessary material for pesticides through a company called Sumitomo Chemicals, and Kenya has received enough materials,” he said.
He added that they are extending the support to the Horn of Africa to deal with the imminent food shortage, following the locust invasion.
Igad (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) states called for help from international and development partners in handling the locust invasion during the 34th Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the chairmanship of Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.