Partnership with Japan provides new tools to help most vulnerable

Publié: 13 décembre 2012 9:39 CET

By Francis Markus

From providing emergency relief for victims of disasters, to cooperating globally on response and adaptation to climate change, a new agreement between the Red Cross Red Crescent and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) could deliver a massive boost to efforts on behalf of the most vulnerable.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed earlier this month by Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and JICA President Akihiko Tanaka.

Among the areas for potential cooperation are disaster management and local capacity building for disaster risk reduction, climate change, food insecurity and health and community care. There will also be an emphasis on peace-building and youth- and gender-related activities.

Mr Geleta and IFRC President Tadateru Konoe, who met with Dr Tanaka in Tokyo to discuss the MoU’s implementation, have described it as a significant advance and have called for it to be acted upon.

“We strongly encourage our IFRC field offices and Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies to work closely together with the JICA offices.” said Mr Geleta.

IFRC President Konoe, who also heads the Japanese Red Cross Society, said: “The Agreement not only will allow both organizations to provide faster aid to people and communities who are in need, but also to improve preparedness for future disasters.”

JICA has also supported the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in organizing the Development and Climate Days at the annual United Nations Climate talks early December in Doha, Qatar, linking global policy to local practice.

Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Centre, said “JICA’s support enabled us to connect policy makers, scientists and practitioners, for intense dialogues about risk management in a changing climate, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable people.”

In his monthly information update, Mr Geleta said: “Together with our member National Societies, we are just at the beginning of this new journey with JICA and I encourage you all to ensure the progress of this partnership.”

Japan’s Overseas Development Aid, chiefly provided by JICA, ranks fifth worldwide and Dr Tanaka  has used the outpouring of international support Japan received after the earthquake and tsunami last year to argue that the country’s foreign aid spending should be maintained in spite of the huge reconstruction costs facing Japan.

JICA has offices in nearly 100 countries, while the IFRC represents 187 national societies worldwide.

“If our National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies work to make proper use of this new partnership, it will make an important contribution in achieving the right mix of investment in hardware and software in our disaster response, preparedness and development work,” said Bjorn Eder, IFRC Representative in Japan.

Press release