Robust health sector partnerships in response to rising antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
Jordan, situated in West Asia, is currently grappling with a health crisis primarily attributed to the enduring Syrian civil war that commenced in 2011. As a consequence of the protracted war, refugees persistently arrive in Jordan, given its geographical proximity to Syria. To date, the number of refugees entering Jordan has reached 1.4 million. The sudden population influx has further strained Jordan's fragile healthcare infrastructure. In particular, the emergence of bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics among those injured in war has contributed to the escalating issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in infectious diseases.Accordingly, KOICA has identified the disease situation in Jordan, recognizing the threat to public health posed by antibiotic resistance. In Jordan, the mortality rate attributed to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases has surged to 76%. Additionally, over 80% of the adult population aged 25 and above is grappling with issues such as obesity or diabetes, 50% with hyperlipidemia, and 30% with high blood pressure. In particular, the prevalent infectious diseases included diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, and hepatitis. Recognizing the absence of standardization in AMR-related testing, sample collection, and equipment in Jordan, KOICA decided to collaborate on healthcare initiatives in the country.KOICA's international organizational cooperation project aimed at eradicating the disease was implemented in four countries: Jordan, Peru, Laos, and Mali, all facing challenges in addressing the AMR problem. The project commenced in 2017 and extended over seven years, concluding in 2023. KOICA analyzed the current status, issues, and beneficiaries in the four target regions, formulating improvement tasks tailored to each country. Subsequently, initiatives were undertaken to establish an AMR surveillance system and enhance the capacity to operate a sustainable national surveillance system.AMR infectious disease affect low-income countries firstJoint meeting on antibiotic resistance surveillance and antibiotic consumption monitoring held in LaosAMR, recognized as one of the 'top 10 public health threats facing humanity' by the World Health Organization (WHO), is often referred to as a 'second cancer.' This term stems from the ability of bacteria to persist without succumbing, even when subjected to drugs intended to suppress or eliminate them. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites that no longer respond to drugs pose a significant challenge as infections become increasingly difficult to treat. In severe cases, there is a heightened risk of issues such as the spread of disease and a surge in fatalities.To address the AMR problem promptly, the health system must be systematically prepared. However, in low-income countries, responding to this issue proves challenging due to the frailty of the medical environment. It has specifically delayed health responses to AMR, resulting in exponentially increasing social costs. This perpetuates a vicious cycle, pushing low-income countries further into poverty. According to the World Bank, the estimated global GDP impact due to AMR is between 1.1% and 3.8%. The resulting increase in poverty and health costs is projected to range from $300 billion to $1 trillion annually (approximately 300 trillion to 1,000 trillion won). In particular, there is a warning that livestock production in low-income countries, where agriculture and the livestock industry are primary sectors, could decline by up to 7.5% per year. This underscores the importance of the international community's attention and collaboration in supporting low-income countries to address the challenges posed by AMR.The World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced the concept of 'One Health' as a solution to tackle AMR. One Health acknowledges the interconnectedness of human health with animals, plants, and the environment, advocating for regional, national, and global cooperative strategies to sustain overall health. The WHO has declared the Global Action Plan on AMR (GAP-AMR) integral to the One Health initiative. This program involves collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). They committed to addressing the AMR problem through the declaration and acknowledged its connection to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). KOICA's international organizational cooperation project for disease eradication also aligns with GAP-AMR.Key to addressing AMR: Establishing strategy through partnershipKOICA's international disease eradication cooperation project with international organizations aimed to establish a system to enable active responses to AMR in the four countries where the project was implemented. KOICA formulated two major strategies, seven performance goals, and nine output goals in detail to achieve this.KOICA initially assisted the four countries involved in the project in joining the global AMR surveillance system. Consequently, these four countries became participants in the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance and Use System (GLASS), establishing the groundwork for systematically constructing, managing and monitoring information. To ensure the normal operation of the AMR surveillance system, KOICA established GLASS-linked National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) in each country and installed equipment that adheres to WHO certification standards.In particular, the 'GLASS-IT platform' was established to secure crucial data pivotal for responding to AMR. Additionally, KOICA ensured data integrity by selecting at least three surveillance sites in each country with capabilities in experimental, clinical, and infectious disease aspects for AMR surveillance. Simultaneously, efforts were made to enhance the reliability of the data. KOICA secured over 30% of the data from tertiary hospitals to generate AMR sample data.After the four countries where the project was implemented enrolled in GLASS, KOICA established an AMR national surveillance system linked to GLASS. Notably, considering the close relationship of the initiative with the environment, animals, and plants, a strategy was developed, taking into account the agricultural and environmental sectors. Partnerships among stakeholders were crucial due to the need for an integrated perspective from multiple fields, including food, plants, animals, and the environment. Recognizing the necessity of an inclusive approach, KOICA initially encouraged the participation of government agencies in recipient countries. Furthermore, quarterly information sharing occurred with the National Coordination Center and WHO, serving as a mechanism to review the implementation status and ensure the project's continuity without disruptions. In addition, information was shared quarterly with the National Coordination Center of each country and WHO, which reviewed the implementation status to ensure no disruptions to the project.KOICA's international disease eradication cooperation project with international organizations concluded in March 2023. The project successfully accomplished 49 out of the 55 planned performance and output indicators across each country. Each country met five out of the seven specified performance goals.KOICA's international disease eradication cooperation project with international organizations, conducted in collaboration with stakeholders across various fields, garnered significant external recognition. WHO headquarters introduced the progress of projects in the region by issuing two reports, including the 'Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) Report 2022.' In particular, WHO produced a 'Thank You KOICA' promotional video expressing gratitude for KOICA's significant assistance in preparing and distributing the report through social media channels.Finding an immediate solution to end the threat of AMR infectious diseases, which affects humanity irrespective of country, income, environment, etc., is challenging. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that a collaborative effort involving multidisciplinary stakeholders, uniting their expertise in international cooperation, could contribute to addressing the AMR issue faced by relatively more vulnerable countries. KOICA remains committed to spearheading global disease eradication through ongoing stakeholder partnerships.
Boosting income, disaster recovery: ODA through civil society partnerships
The public-private partnership projects initiated by KOICA have a significant and extensive history. Since 1995, KOICA has been implementing ODA projects with the aim of addressing poverty in developing countries through collaboration with private partners possessing expertise, including civil society organizations (CSOs), universities, research institutes, and social economy organizations. Among them, the civil society cooperation program is categorized into three types: an 'entry type,' which identifies cooperative projects with small and medium-sized partners and supports the growth of the partner's organization or business capacity; a 'growth type,' which involves private-led grassroots development cooperation projects with the active participation of local residents; and a 'strategic type,' fostering a complementary partnership between CSOs and KOICA to contribute to the achievement of SDGs in developing countries.Rapid growth of Kenyan dairy cooperatives through linkage between NGOs and startupsWomen from dairy cooperative in Rumuruti, Kenya, who participated in dairy educationAccording to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Kenya's Gender Gap Index (GGI) as of 2020 ranks 109th out of 153 countries worldwide. Many women face obstacles to economic participation while some face harmful practices such as child marriage or circumcision. Due to this social atmosphere, women often find themselves taking for granted the necessity to walk several kilometers to collect water or gather firewood, all while managing household responsibilities and caring for children.The government of Kenya is seeking to address such issues. Article 27 of the country s Constitution, amended in 2010, affirms that 'women and men have the right to equal treatment and are guaranteed equal opportunities for political, economic, cultural, and social rights. The challenge lies in the overall societal atmosphere remaining unchanged despite the amendment. To alter the longstanding entrenched social atmosphere, real change must be instigated. Since 2021, KOICA, in collaboration with the international development cooperation NGO Uniworld International, has established the 'MARU Dairy Farmers Co-operative Society Limited' in the Rumuruti province of Kenya, aiming at generating employment opportunities for women and fostering their economic freedom and independence. With 100 members, the union achieves an average annual sales volume of $79,797. Per capita income increased from $462.1 in the second year of full-scale business to $776.4 in the third year.The cooperative's primary source of revenue is milk sales. They placed a milk vending machine in downtown Rumuruti, taking advantage of its sizeable floating population and high accessibility while maximizing profits through individual customer sales. The key to stable profits lies in partnerships with startups. 'Bodit,' a dairy farming ICT startup selected for the KOICA CTS project, offered the cooperative a solution for early detection of calf diseases and precision breeding. Furthermore, a synergy effect was achieved by enhancing the capabilities of farmers through educational initiatives.Students and teachers grow togetherTraining on alternative sanitary napkin production provided for female students of childbearing age in EthiopiaThe role of NGOs that work with local residents is essential to identify on-site needs and connect them to international development cooperation projects. The Korea International Volunteer Organization, an international development cooperation NGO, has been implementing an elementary education support project since 2017, with a focus on five public schools in Bishoftu, Oromia region, Ethiopia. Following the first phase (2017-2019) of the project, the second phase (2021-2023) was seamlessly executed, resulting in a 25.2% increase in the number of students, an upper school advancement rate of 97.2%, and an 8th-grade graduation rate of 95.1%.Gender inequality is a prevalent issue in Ethiopian schools, to the extent that women's restrooms are non-existent. Consequently, the academic completion rate for female students is low, standing at 52.5%. KOICA and the Korea International Volunteer Organization enhanced school facilities and significantly increased the female student attendance rate to 96.1% as of 2021. This was achieved through meal programs for children in poverty, support for sanitary products, and awareness-raising education. In the current year, virtually all attendance was recorded at 99.1%, and female students' 8th-grade academic completion rate rose to 92.8%.Additionally, a program to enhance teachers' capabilities was implemented. This initiative aimed at boosting teachers' self-esteem and motivation as educators through comprehensive capacity-building training, including workshops on student management, teaching strategies, and school management. Teachers formed a learning community called 'BTG (BEEKUMSA Teachers Group),' where they shared educational content with their colleagues and teachers nearby.Strategic partnership for large-scale, long-term projectsAn adolescent mother receiving home visit counseling services from World VisionWorld Vision, an international relief and development NGO, has been addressing health issues among vulnerable groups through a maternal and child health project in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines since 2021. This initiative is part of a large-scale project established in collaboration with KOICA, with a duration of 5 years and a total cost exceeding 10 billion won.The essence of the project lies in its community-led approach. World Vision devised a maternal and child health home visit consultation service module, implementing a system wherein local health workers (Barangay Health Workers) conduct home visits. It is not merely a health project involving house calls; instead, it focuses on identifying practices within families, promoting family participation, and encouraging a shift in gender roles within the home all aimed at enhancing the health and growth of children. World Vision has conducted maternal and child health home visit counseling service training for 1,865 local health workers, enabling them to impart essential maternal and child health knowledge to mothers and caregivers. In particular, the organization has intensified home visits this year, covering a total of 351 households up to the present moment.In addition, World Vision has established 'Citizen Voice and Action (CVA)' and is offering capacity-building training to empower local residents to voice their opinions. The goal is to ensure that residents' perspectives are considered in the policies of the Philippine Department of Health (DoH) and local government units (LGUs). In each of the 16 counties targeted by the project, a resident-led advocacy group consisting of local residents was formed, and a scorecard system was established to allow local residents to evaluate government policies directly. Consequently, residents are actively engaging in identifying and addressing gaps between confirmed problems, government policies, and the actual delivery of services.Public-private joint project for temporary settlement of earthquake victims in T rkiyePanoramic view of the temporary residential district Korea-T rkiye Friendship Village The project aimed at recovery from the earthquake that struck T rkiye in March 2023 can also be regarded as a noteworthy example of joint public-private emergency relief activities. In October, the opening ceremony for the 'Korea-T rkiye Friendship Village,' a temporary settlement aimed at aiding earthquake victims in their recovery, took place in the Antakya region of T rkiye's Hatay Province. This temporary residential village project is a public-private joint project jointly carried out by KOICA and civil society organizations including Save the Children Korea, Good Neighbors International, and Korea Food for the Hungry International. Full-fledged discussions commenced when the Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT), dispatched to T rkiye last March for early recovery from the earthquake, signed a record of discussion (R/D) with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) of T rkiye for the temporary settlement project.The Korea-T rkiye Friendship Village is a temporary settlement spanning approximately 40,000㎡, capable of accommodating 500 households. In addition to the container houses, this location is equipped with various public spaces and essential facilities, including a kindergarten, school, child and women-friendly space, communal laundry room, and community center, so victims may stay without major inconvenience until their homes are restored. Various programs will also be implemented there to aid in the mental and psychological recovery of the victims.Concerning this, Jung Yoo-ah, General Director of KOICA's Multilateral Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance Dept., stated, To enhance the resilience of the victims in T rkiye, KOICA is providing support through close collaboration with project partner NGOs and relevant government ministries, such as AFAD.
VERYWORDS leads e-mobility ecosystem construction in Cambodia
Scooter and batteries from VERYWORDS Co., Ltd.'Carbon neutrality' means reducing the net amount of greenhouse gases emitted by humans to zero. Achieving this requires a significant change in the way business is conducted. VERYWORDS, a climate change consulting company founded in 2017, participated in KOICA's Inclusive Business Solution Program (hereinafter referred to as the IBS Program) to promote carbon neutrality through a new business ecosystem and culture.Supporting carbon neutrality in developing countriesIn December 2015, the 'Paris Agreement on Climate Change' (Paris Agreement) was signed during the 21st Session of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). After the unanimous agreement of 195 countries, the Cambodian government established and announced a 'long-term strategy for carbon neutrality' to reduce greenhouse gases by up to 42% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In Cambodia, where the economy is growing rapidly, greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector are increasing swiftly due to the rising number of individuals owning personal vehicles. The prevalence of motorcycle users is particularly significant. Even if developing countries declare carbon neutrality at the government level, they often lack the financial resources to implement it, necessitating assistance from developed countries. Even with the assistance of developed countries in implementing greenhouse gas reduction projects, these initiatives frequently lack sustainability because the lives or perceptions of people in developing countries do not undergo significant changes. These words are attributed to Kim Sung-woo, the CEO of VERYWORDS Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as VERYWORDS). Established in 2017, VERYWORDS is a climate change consulting company encompassing the e-mobility value chain, including e-mobility production, related services, and recycling. Kim emphasizes the 'distribution of electric motorcycles to developing countries' as a pressing task acknowledged by international organizations, including the United Nations. This urgency arises due to conventional motorcycles' significant greenhouse gas emissions. Motorcycles are an integral part of everyday life for Cambodians. Suppose Cambodians were to replace their conventional motorcycles with electric ones, receiving points equivalent to the reduced greenhouse gases and enjoying discounts on charging fees. Wouldn't it naturally encourage them to incorporate greenhouse gas reduction into their daily routines? This shift in perception is poised to impact the promotion of other greenhouse gas reduction projects positively. IBS Program, initial step in establishing e-mobility ecosystem View of VERYWORDS Pople StationThe primary objective that VERYWORDS set upon entering Cambodia was 'building an e-mobility ecosystem.' It was based on the belief that when culture changes, the ecosystem changes and the world can change with the transformation of the ecosystem. However, cultural change projects are time-consuming and challenging to pursue in companies that prioritize economic logic. To attain carbon neutrality by 2050, Cambodia must achieve a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. In order to accomplish this, the launch of a new business that fosters a novel culture should be initiated as soon as possible. However, many investors and companies tend to focus solely on specific technologies. Additionally, the Cambodian government lacks sufficient financial resources to invest in cultivating a culture or ecosystem that contradicts the immediate economic feasibility logic.KOICA's IBS Program paved the way for a new direction in this situation. IBS is a program designed to enhance the economic growth of targeted countries and elevate the quality of life for local residents. It achieves this by collaboratively mobilizing financial resources between KOICA and private companies to execute projects in developing countries, leveraging the expertise of private companies. During the promotion of an e-mobility pilot project in Cambodia in 2019 and the development of an eco-industrial complex in 2021, the concept of an 'e-mobility ecosystem' emerged. However, managing this project alone posed a significant challenge for the startup VERYWORDS. Given Cambodia's status as a developing country, the business proposal faced reluctance from potential stakeholders. However, KODAC, a consulting agency specializing in international development cooperation, introduced KOICA's IBS Program. The concept of establishing an e-mobility ecosystem in developing countries aligned with the objectives of the IBS Program and presented a fitting business model.Successful mass production and sales of e-mobility with both competitive performance and pricingVERYWORDS promoted the 'Building a Sustainable e-Mobility Ecosystem for Carbon Reduction in Cambodia' project through KOICA's IBS Program. VERYWORDS assumed overall responsibility for organizing this project, initiated the e-mobility mass production stage in Cambodia, and innovated the SHS (Solar Home ESS System), enabling the repurposing of batteries after use. Currently, VERYWORDS is in the process of constructing a factory to recycle waste batteries. The KOICA Cambodia Office remains dedicated to monitoring and supporting this project, exerting continuous efforts to provide assistance at every stage as required. An integral aspect of constructing an e-mobility ecosystem involves establishing systems. Thanks to KOICA's proactive support in persuading the Cambodian government and identifying aid projects, VERYWORDS successfully obtained approval from the Cambodian government. Through this project, VERYWORDS accomplished the local production of 100 e-scooters. As of August 2023, 86 units have been sold, with an enthusiastic response from local users opting for e-scooters over traditional motorcycles. Our company's e-scooters are high-quality products that separate the battery and e-mobility body for sale. However, the pricing remains competitive and comparable to competitors' products. Furthermore, it has achieved performance levels comparable to existing gasoline motorcycles. Even users who previously rode gasoline motorcycles can now use it without inconvenience. Dreaming of sustainable development in Cambodia Kim Sung-woo, Representative of VERYWORDS Co., Ltd.In the meantime, VERYWORDS collaborated with banks and gas stations to install charging stations in convenient locations for users, improving the accessibility of battery replacement. The remaining tasks include establishing a recycling center and implementing a waste battery collection system. During the establishment of the e-mobility ecosystem, the question 'Can a startup truly accomplish this?' frequently arose. Despite the challenges encountered along the way, with KOICA's support, the resounding answer emerged that it is indeed 'entirely feasible.' As I advance through the IBS program, I find gratification in the external validation of the significance of building a carbon-neutral culture. This stands as the most significant achievement. Ultimately, to finalize the e-mobility ecosystem, it is imperative to broaden the local distribution of e-mobility. Achieving this necessitates the establishment of an adequate charging infrastructure. To achieve this goal, VERYWORDS is in the process of developing a new project tied to Korea's international greenhouse gas reduction initiative. This illustrates that the completion of Cambodia's e-mobility eco-platform is contingent upon the practical utilization of greenhouse gas reductions.As of 2020, Cambodia's registered number of motorcycles stands at approximately 5.2 million. Given this figure, the scale of the local motorcycle market is estimated to be roughly twice that of Korea. If local motorcycles are replaced by e-mobility, the potential impact is likely to be significantly greater. The ultimate goal of VERYWORDS, having taken a meaningful first step in cultivating a carbon-neutral culture by establishing an e-mobility ecosystem via the IBS program, is the 'sustainable development of Cambodia.' In pursuit of this goal, KOICA envisions the integration of electric motorcycles into the daily lives of more Cambodian people.
'Resolving global crises, strengthening ODA capabilities, realizing universal values'
Current global crises including disasters, climate issues and conflicts cannot be resolved solely through the will and efforts of individual countries. The crises of today are complex and occur simultaneously, quickly spreading to neighboring countries and causing other crises in succession. To overcome such challenges, global solidarity and cooperation must come first. KOICA, along with numerous advanced donor organizations, considers partnership as the key to development cooperation and is carrying out various related projects with development actors at home and abroad. We spoke with President CHANG, Won Sam, who assumed office in 2023 to discuss KOICA s directions for partnerships and more. President of KOICA CHANG, Won SamQ What is your view of Korea s current Official Development Assistance (ODA)? What are some ways we can achieve improvements?So far, Korea's ODA has demonstrated significant progress in both scale and system. The government raised the ODA budget by 21% in 2023 compared to 2022, and aims for a further increase by more than 40% in 2024 compared to 2023. If realized, it is anticipated that the government's goal of more than doubling the ODA budget by 2030 compared to 2019 will be accomplished ahead of schedule. Expanding ODA despite an austerity fiscal policy symbolizes our government's strong determination to increase its contribution to the international community as a Pivotal Global State.It is also encouraging that we are experimenting with diverse policies to overcome the issue of fragmentation in Korea s ODA, such as strengthening the integrated role of the Committee for International Development Cooperation, and developing government-wide strategies regarding Green ODA and development cooperation in Africa. Inefficiency in the field arising from the excessive fragmentation of grants is an important issue that needs resolving as Korea takes on the role of an advanced donor country.For the sustainable development of Korea s ODA, it is essential to not only pursue quantitative expansion but also cultivate skilled individuals capable of efficiently implementing the increased ODA. To achieve this goal, KOICA is making various efforts to nurture talent in the development cooperation field, including establishing a system for dispatching interns, volunteer groups, and experts to international organizations, aimed at young individuals aspiring to enter the development cooperation field.Q What specific initiatives do you plan to prioritize during your term?At the United Nations General Assembly in September 2023, President Yoon Suk Yeol declared our government's commitment to actively contribute to overcoming the three divides caused by the global complex crisis: the development gap, the climate gap, and the digital gap. In this regard, KOICA will actively promote tailored development cooperation that leverages our strengths, focusing on green ODA for the mitigation and adaptation of the climate crisis in vulnerable countries; digital ODA that supports digital transformation in countries with insufficient digital distribution and utilization; and educational training and health infrastructure support for developing countries self-reliance.Moreover, we seek to actively implement the Ukraine Peace and Solidarity Initiative to participate in the international community's commitment to solidarity in protecting universal values. In addition to providing humanitarian support, considering the current conflict situation, KOICA is planning to prepare and promote various reconstruction projects in areas such as health, education, and infrastructure.Last but not least, KOICA will strengthen global partnerships with traditional and emerging donor countries and international organizations. We aim to continue strengthening cooperation with advanced donor organizations that share universal values, and create excellent examples of cooperation that enhance synergy effects. We are also determined to build mutually beneficial partnerships through cooperation with emerging donor countries. I believe that the development history of our country, which has evolved from one of the least developed countries to an emerging donor country and now to one of the world's top 10 economies, can play a crucial role in establishing a new global development cooperation partnership.Q Please share with us the importance of partnerships in the field of development cooperation.Although we are entering the concluding phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the international community still faces uncertainty. Unprecedented global crises, including the war between Russia and Ukraine, the subsequent surge in raw materials and energy prices, the outbreak of large-scale natural disasters due to climate change, and the increase in refugees and migrants due to conflicts and disasters, are casting a shadow over prospects for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).We are thus living in an era of complex global crises, of intertwined and multilayered crises. Complex crises are characterized by their occurrence in both developed and developing countries, and thus unable to be resolved through the efforts of one country alone. Therefore, solidarity and cooperation to solve our common problems are becoming increasingly important.To respond to the global crisis and contribute to achieving the SDGs, KOICA is pursuing development cooperation projects in partnership with various actors, including advanced and emerging donor agencies, international organizations, companies, and civil society. This cooperation mobilizes additional financial resources for international development cooperation, including foreign and private resources and domestic ODA resources. It also contributes to improving project quality.For example, KOICA is implementing a project for universal health coverage and global health security in Ghana through a partnership among the donor agencies of Korea, the United States, and Japan. KOICA supports the project with approximately $22 million (KRW 16.4 billion); through cooperation, the total project scale has expanded to $160 million (approximately KRW 200.6 billion), benefiting more than 5.81 million people across Ghana. As seen in this example, partnership is the key to development cooperation, enabling the resolution of problems that couldn't be addressed alone.Q Due to large-scale natural disasters and conflicts, cooperation in emergency relief and humanitarian support is also growing increasingly important. What partnerships is KOICA pursuing in this regard?KOICA has contributed through Korea's disaster response capabilities in various disaster sites by dispatching the Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) to help victims of the T rkiye earthquake in February and the Canadian forest fire in July. In the future, as natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes due to the climate crisis occur more frequently, requests for KDRT dispatch from the international community are expected to increase.Dispatching an emergency relief team requires urgent mobilization from various divisions, including medical staff, rescue teams, and transportation. To this end, collaboration based on partnerships with various ministries such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Welfare, National Fire Agency, and Ministry of National Defense is essential. As the KDRT Secretariat, KOICA strives to support logistics and administration related to dispatching relief teams, strengthen disaster response capabilities, and maintain ongoing partnerships with advanced relief teams through participation in international conferences and education and training. In particular, KOICA is seeking ways to cooperate with the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) Japan Disaster Relief (JDR).KOICA is also carrying out humanitarian aid public-private cooperation projects in collaboration with civil society organizations within the larger iframework of humanitarian assistance. Depending on the type of disaster, KOICA promotes various projects divided into areas such as sexual violence in conflict, disaster risk reduction, water and sanitation, protection, and nutrition for refugees/internally displaced persons (IDPs). Recently, we have successfully carried out a project to support the establishment of temporary settlements for victims in cooperation with three NGOs after the earthquake in T rkiye.Q How is KOICA's partnership with civil society progressing?KOICA is enhancing the effectiveness of development cooperation projects by leveraging the expert capabilities and experience of partner organizations including non-profit civil society organizations, universities, and social economy organizations. Partnership with civil society is facilitated by KOICA and civil society jointly sharing financial resources through a matching fund, which is established via bidding in six sectors: higher education, education, health, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, multi-sector, and social and solidarity economy. As of 2023, the number of projects by sector is 37 in health, 27 in multi-sector, 23 in education, 17 in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, 8 in higher education, and 7 in social and solidarity economy.Bidding is divided into three partnership categories based on the size of partner organizations, institutional expertise, and project implementation capabilities: ▲ Entry Type (for new institutions and projects), ▲ Growth Type (which support local vulnerable groups and people's livelihoods), and ▲ Strategic Type (large-scale projects, contribution to government policy). Such categorization aims to enhance project effectiveness by promoting cooperative projects that align with the development stages and demands of each NGO. KOICA plans to continue seeking project improvements in the future to enhance project outcomes while contributing to fostering a healthy NGO ecosystem in Korea.Q It seems that KOICA is also cooperating actively with corporations.Collaboration with private companies is of utmost importance. This is because companies are actors that mobilize development resources for investment in developing countries. Simultaneously, they possess the ability to address various development challenges through their expertise and innovative technologies. In particular, as the demand for development increases rapidly amid the complex global crisis, and as development tasks become more intricate, the importance of collaboration with private companies is growing day by day.KOICA collaborates with various corporate partners to address development challenges in developing countries and establish sustainable project models through three programs: Creative Technology Solution (CTS), which supports the innovative technologies of startups and social ventures; Inclusive Business Solution (IBS), which supports companies' inclusive business activities in developing countries; and Innovative Partnership Solution (IPS), which seeks to strategically cooperate with overseas private partners.KOICA has recently introduced the 'KOICA Platform ESG Initiative' as a sub-project model for its IBS program. This initiative explores the correlation between corporate ESG management and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries, responding to the escalating interest in environment, society, and governance (ESG). KOICA has signed MOUs with six companies to identify and promote projects collaboratively.Q What are the implications of partnerships with other donor agencies?As Korea s representative development cooperation agency, and now to leap forward as a leading global development cooperation organization, it is pivotal to form partnerships with overseas donor agencies that have accumulated lengthy development cooperation experiences, thereby strengthening our capacities and establishing networks.Especially, in light of the recently evolving international environment, partnerships with advanced donor countries are essential. Global development challenges, including climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise in conflicts and refugees, have become more complex and intensified than in the past, demanding an integrated response. According to the 'Human Development Report 2021-2022' published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the crises we face have accelerated and intensified, leading to complex polarization in multiple fields, including politics, the economy, society, and the environment. As these development problems cannot be resolved through the efforts of any one single country, it is crucial to foster strong global solidarity and cooperation among development stakeholders in the international community, including developed countries, emerging donor countries, developing nations, international organizations, civil society, and corporations.Since joining the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a group of advanced donor countries, in 2010, Korea has been expanding its internal and external influence. As founding members, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany possess more than 60 years of experience and know-how in promoting development cooperation, and these advanced donors strategically implement ODA based on their accumulated experience, leading global and regional issues. This partnership is crucial as it allows us to learn from the experience of advanced donor countries and apply it to our unique circumstances. In addition, by expanding partnerships with countries that share universal values, Korea can contribute to the promotion of principles such as freedom, peace, prosperity, and the rule of law.Q How can KOICA contribute in its partnerships with other donor agencies? What are KOICA s unique strengths?According to partner countries that are transitioning from developing to developed countries, Korea is a unique model of reference. Korea thus serves as a model for developing countries, having achieved political development and economic growth in recent decades.While the path of modernization and industrialization may differ from country to country, developing countries can, at the very least, analyze their reality and choose to apply relevant aspects of Korea's development experience. In particular, Korea being a global leader in the digital sector, the foundation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we can collaborate with major members of the international community to formulate creative and appropriate approaches for the development of developing countries.Unlike in the past, today's global problems do not only affect specific countries. Given the divergent interests of each country in responding to the global crisis, the prospects for achieving the SDGs through ODA, the traditional means of support, are bleak. Many stakeholders in development cooperation recognize that addressing this situation requires the international community to collaborate in responding to global problems. Meanwhile, Korea, an advanced country with exemplary economic development and dynamism, is widely recognized by many countries as a trustworthy development cooperation partner.As Korea's representative ODA agency, KOICA can play a unique bridging role by sharing experiences with developing countries and contributing to narrowing the differences between developed and developing countries. There is substantial demand for KOICA s best practices, knowledge, and ODA project information on occasions of international conferences. International organizations also expect KOICA to play an important role in triangular cooperation, a novel approach to addressing global problems.Q What are some goals that you seek to achieve during your term as President of KOICA?As outlined in KOICA's mid to long-term management goals, I aim to establish the foundation for KOICA to emerge as a leading global development cooperation organization. While contributing to Korea s foreign policy goal of Global Pivotal State, KOICA will actively join the discourse for a new development cooperation system established jointly by traditional and emerging donors.To this end, I have outlined the tasks we need to accomplish. First, KOICA is improving its response capabilities to deal with constant crises facing humanity, transcending borders and regions. As boundaries between existing donors and recipients become blurry, it is also crucial to diversify cooperation with partners across various fields. KOICA also seeks to expand jobs in development cooperation to create an environment where skilled professionals can join the development cooperation ecosystem, while aiming to enhance efficiency and productivity within the agency through management innovation.Q Could you please share any memorable episodes related to KOICA during your tenure as ambassador?As the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka, KOICA was the most popular Korean organization among locals. It was truly impressive to witness KOICA providing practical assistance to the local community in diverse fields such as forensic investigation, waste disposal, and vocational training. The activities of the KOICA Country Office staff, and other various experts and volunteer groups dispatched from Korea left a positive impression on the local people, and I received greetings of gratitude and welcome on behalf of Korea wherever I visited. It was a period during which I could genuinely feel firsthand the significant contribution of KOICA to developing countries and to elevating Korea s stature.
A pivotal moment for partnership
Michele SumilasAtA Michele Sumilas of USAIDThe world today faces a cascade of challenges that is testing all countries and communities like never before. In the last few years, we have been battered by the economic, social, and health consequences of the pandemic and shattered by rising poverty and deepening inequalities. We have been devastated by food insecurity, high energy prices, and climate shocks. And they are confronting us at a time amid an erosion of international rules and norms amid questions on whether democratic institutions can address the most pressing issues of our generation and deliver for communities around the world.Partnership between USAID and KOICAThe United States remains committed to working with our partners to confront today s shared challenges and advance achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. For the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), this means our collaboration with partner countries like the Republic of Korea is more critical than ever. In September 2022, I joined Director General Won Doyeon in Seoul to sign a three-year development cooperation memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Republic of Korea s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Through this MOU, the United States and the Republic of Korea strive to identify the best ways to capitalize on each other s strengths, solidifying our global development and humanitarian assistance partnership to address the world s most challenging problems. This broad agreement was complemented by a multi-year work plan for USAID and KOICA, which includes more than 20 proposed activities for collaboration.But of course, this partnership is not new. Our countries have a long history of friendship. In 1980, after 30 years of development assistance from the United States and others, the Republic of Korea showed the world what it means to invest in people, establish a functioning democratic system, and create exponential economic growth. Today, Korea stands on the global stage as a major donor partner that invests billions of dollars a year in humanitarian and development work globally. This history makes the Republic of Korea an especially strong partner because it leverages both its insights as a former aid recipient as well as its current global standing as a leading democracy and top ten economy.The evolution of USAID's relationship with the Republic of Korea serves as a testament to the power of international collaboration in the pursuit of development goals. Today, our nations work together on a wide range of issues combating climate change in the Pacific Islands, enhancing cybersecurity in Southeast Asia, improving water management across the Mekong River Basin, and strengthening access to energy through Power Africa. And all over the world, we partner to promote the rights of women and girls, elevate the voices of local leaders in the countries where we work, collaborate on humanitarian assistance, and more.In one of our most critical partnerships, the Republic of Korea was the first country to join USAID to support Ukrainian farmers and their role in maintaining global food security through USAID s Agriculture Resilience Initiative-Ukraine (AGRI-Ukraine). Our nations share a commitment not only to fight food insecurity, but also to help Ukraine emerge from Russia s war as a strong, sovereign, democratic, and prosperous society that is free to choose its own future.Historic trilateral cooperationAt the end of October 2023, I met again with Director General Won, this time alongside Director General Kazuya Endo of Japan s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Honolulu, Hawai i, for the first U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea Trilateral Development and Humanitarian Assistance Policy Dialogue. Not only has the strength of our partnership with the Republic of Korea driven our shared efforts to new heights, it has also galvanized broader cooperation with Japan.Signaling a new chapter in our development partnership, this trilateral dialogue, announced at President Biden s Trilateral Leaders Summit in August 2023, advanced concrete discussions to coordinate assistance to countries around the world.One example of this budding trilateral cooperation is reflected through the historic trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation we signed in July to support efforts to increase access to primary health care in Ghana. Through this partnership, USAID, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and the Ghanaian Ministry of Health are better positioned to leverage competencies, expertise, and resources to strengthen Ghana s primary health care system.At the signing event, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Virginia Palmer said: The pandemic showed us the power of strategic partnership with our allies to build a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous world. We are proud to join Japan and the Republic of Korea in this partnership to achieve Universal [Health] Coverage in Ghana. Through partnerships like these, we can take on the challenges of the moment and help communities build the prosperity and resilience to meet, head on, the global challenges we will face in the future. We find ourselves at a pivotal moment to build on the momentum of the Trilateral Development Dialogue to drive better development outcomes for all communities in the world. I am reminded that in the lobby of KOICA headquarters in Seoul, there is a decades-old bag of flour on display one that bears the words From the American People. What a powerful reminder of the difference that development assistance and collaboration can make as countries chart new courses for themselves.
Sustainable agricultural production in three Central American countries achieved through triangular cooperation
A resident in a dry corridor area harvesting lettuceThe 'Dry Corridor (Corredor Seco),' stretching approximately 1,000 km along the Pacific coast of Central America, is a highly arid region with an average annual rainfall of less than 500 mm. As per the 2021 announcement from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 7.5% of the Dry Corridor consists of areas severely affected by drought, with drought-high risk areas encompassing 50.5% of the total.The issue lies in the fact that this region, prone to frequent droughts, is especially susceptible to the impacts of climate change. The Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, located in the dry corridor zone, heavily depend on agriculture. They are grappling with food shortages and poverty as crops deteriorate due to extreme and abnormal climates. To make matters worse, El Ni o, which causes water temperatures to rise near the equator, occurred this year, deepening the worries of local residents.In response, KOICA is collaborating with Costa Rica to implement a capacity-building project to address climate change and enhance agricultural productivity in three Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.Farmers abandon homes due to climate changeApproximately 10 million people inhabit the dry corridor zone, with the majority engaged in agriculture. Family farms in Central America primarily cultivate food crops like corn, red beans, and fruits and vegetables, intending to achieve self-sufficiency. However, due to the ecological characteristics of the region, horticultural crops like fruits and vegetables are primarily cultivated in the highlands. Consequently, the lowlands along the dry corridor yield poor crops.In particular, droughts in the lowlands of the dry corridor in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras sometimes extend for more than four months. Governments in each country are distributing quality seeds resistant to dry climates to enhance the agricultural productivity of horticultural crops. However, technological development is deficient, specifically for horticultural crops. As a result, family farms have encountered economic hardships in recent years due to the escalating impacts of climate change. Statistics reveal that 80% of local small-scale farmers are grappling with poverty.Nutrition deficiency is also a significant problem. According to the 2019 report on the state of the world's children by UNICEF, the rate of chronically malnourished children under five years of age was 51% in Guatemala. This represents the highest rate among the 18 Latin American countries in the survey. Honduras ranked 3rd with a rate of 28%, while El Salvador 9th with 21%. The proportion of chronically malnourished children in all three countries surpassed the regional average of 17%. Chronic nutritional deficiencies stem from a lack of essential micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Due to tight budgets, accessing quality food is challenging for local residents. Consequently, farmers in these Central American countries are forced to leave their homes, grappling with both livelihood difficulties and nutritional deficiencies.Establishing sustainable agricultural environment through partnerships Training completion ceremony hosted by Costa Rica for three Central American countriesIt is essential to develop and distribute fundamental facility horticultural technology to cultivate horticultural crops capable of thriving in abnormal climates. In response, KOICA initiated plans to develop and demonstrate facility horticulture technology suitable for low-lying areas along the dry corridor, intending to subsequently distribute this technology to local farmers. KOICA forged a partnership with the Costa Rican government to facilitate this endeavor.Costa Rica joined the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in May 2021 and has efficiently resolved regional problems through triangular cooperation with other Central American countries. Costa Rica, classified as an emerging donor country in Latin America, shares a similar natural environment and socioeconomic structure with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Notably, Costa Rica has previously succeeded in institutional horticulture within the dry corridor area.Costa Rica's National Institute of Innovation and Transfer in Agricultural Technology (INTA) and the Foundation for the Promotion of Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer (FITTACORI) are the organizations that will carry out this project. Under Costa Rica's Ministry of Agriculture, INTA is an organization that focuses on agricultural research and education for farmers and has technical, human, and financial capabilities. FITTACORI, which is in charge of project cost execution, has experience in project cost management and accounting reporting because it manages the Costa Rica government's international cooperation resources. KOICA assumes the responsibility for ▲ Costa Rica invitation training and local workshops for the three Central American countries ▲ construction of pilot farms and pilot farming lands ▲ dispatch of facility horticulture technology advisory groups, etc.Support for crop cultivation education, demonstration technology distribution, and electricity provisionThrough this project, KOICA and Costa Rica will provide three Central American countries with a capacity-building program that combines theory and practice in growing vegetables, a non-traditional agricultural crop. The program includes education on the production and consumption of six types of vegetables, including leafy greens with folic acid and iron and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A and C. The goal is to increase income and improve nutrition by diversifying the production of family farms in the dry corridor areas. In addition, facility horticulture that can produce all year round will be introduced. This is to continue farming even in the dry corridor lowlands where the dry season is prolonged.There are 2,100 beneficiaries of this project. Beneficiaries are divided into direct beneficiaries who receive capacity building and technology transfer support from INTA in Costa Rica, and indirect beneficiaries who receive training provided through direct beneficiaries. There are 450 direct beneficiaries, of whom 30% are women. Direct beneficiaries can participate in ▲invitational training for union leaders, ▲installation and operation of pilot farmlands at the union level, and ▲operation of local workshops. KOICA plans to actively provide support so the beneficiary associations created through this project can freely form networking and participate in the business plan development process.1,650 indirect beneficiaries gain knowledge and experience in facility horticulture in the dry corridor zone through the educated direct beneficiaries. They also collaboratively operate and manage pilot facilities.Aiming for both efficiency and effectivenessFirst of all, this project will help Central and South American countries accelerate their achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As of 2021, the average SDGs index in Latin America was 68.6 points. However, the scores of three countries, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, were 59.9 points, 67.9 points, and 62.8 points, respectively, below the average. As a result, the project is expected to contribute to the second index of SDGs, "ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, as well as strengthening sustainable agriculture," and the 13th index, "implementing urgent actions to prevent climate change and its effects."This project is even more meaningful because it is a project that combines supply and demand from the main axis and recipient countries in response to the need to strengthen facility horticultural technology capabilities in the dry corridor area. It is anticipated that there will be smooth communication between agricultural officials and researchers dispatched from INTA, FITTACORI, etc., and farmer organizations in the beneficiary countries.Given the characteristics of the project's target area, which is hot and dry, the project is predicted to achieve both efficiency and effectiveness by emphasizing facilities that enhance insect prevention and shading efficiency and by making good use of materials readily available in the region.
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