Chapter 2

Section 2

6. Latin America and the Caribbean Region

Japan’s bilateral ODA to the Latin America and the Caribbean region in 2002 was approximately $590 million, accounting for 8.8% of total bilateral ODA.

Japan has been carrying out assistance in the Latin America and the Caribbean region placing importance on the following points, as stated in the medium-term policy.

(1) Japan will provide active support for the efforts on democratization and economic reform.
(2) Japan will provide support for environmental conservation to protect the natural environment and to cope with the increased environmental burden resulting from economic growth.
(3) Japan will provide support for the alleviation of poverty by assisting basic education programs, health and medical care, agriculture and rural development, and the development of a basic infrastructure for the reduction of regional disparities.
(4) In relatively low-income countries, Japan will provide support for the development of the social and economic infrastructure, etc. in order to revitalize the private sector and promote foreign investment.
(5) Japan will promote regional cooperation, including human resources development and technology transfer, etc. which targets two or more countries.

Furthermore, Japan intends to give consideration to rehabilitation and reconstruction support for countries afflicted by natural disasters and to comprehensive support for the island countries of the Caribbean region.

In the Latin America and the Caribbean region there are some countries that are still suffering from the effects of the “Argentina Economic Crisis” of December 2001. However, the region as a whole is generally showing political and economic stability following the democratization and economic reforms of the 1990s. There has also been progress toward regional economic integration such as MERCOSUR (the Common Market of the South) and CARICOM (the Caribbean Community), and as a part of this, negotiations are underway for the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in 2005, which would encompass all of North and South America. On the other hand, the rapid pace of economic reforms has created economic disparities within the region and within individual countries. In some countries, this has led to the worsening of social problems, such as poverty and the deterioration of public security. In order to reduce disparities, alleviate poverty, and encourage stable development of the regional economy, efforts in the BHN sectors that provide the foundations of development, such as the education and health and medical care sectors, have become issues. The Latin America and the Caribbean region is also faced with a variety of serious environmental issues and social issues including the decline of the tropical rain forests, the environmental degradation in big cities, and the expansion of slums resulting from the concentration of population in cities.

Regarding Japan’s economic cooperation for the Latin America and the Caribbean region, traditionally Japan has provided assistance that contributes to resolving the above issues while giving consideration to the fact that there is a large number of migrants from Japan and ethnic Japanese living in the region who are serving as a special connection to Japan, and that the region has achieved high economic growth in recent years leading to stronger economic ties with Japan.

As for environmental conservation, Japan is actively carrying out cooperation through both technical cooperation and financial cooperation. For example, Japan is providing support through technical cooperation for the formulation of plans for improving water quality, etc. and providing yen loans for environmental projects to countries with a relatively high level of income. And Japan is providing grant aid to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and other countries to improve the housing of low-income population and develop the basic living environment such as the development of the water supply and sewerage systems. As for technical cooperation, Japan has implemented technical cooperation projects such as the “Environmental Research and Training Center” in Mexico and the “National Center for the Environment” in Chile.

Stamps showing eight bridges in Honduras that were damaged or washed away by hurricanes. The stamps were issued to commemorate the reconstruction of the bridges with grant aid from Japan.

In addition to the MERCOSUR countries, effective assistance with consideration given to regional integration is also required for the Central American countries where efforts toward integration are being advanced and for the Caribbean countries that form CARICOM. Japan has been making efforts to provide comprehensive support for the Central American countries and the Caribbean countries and working to strengthen relations by utilizing the “Japan-Central America Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation” which is held regularly every year and in accordance with “A New Framework for Japan-CARICOM Cooperation For the Twenty-First Century”25 adopted at the First Japan-CARICOM Ministerial-Level Meeting held in November 2000.

Japan is actively supporting comprehensive environmental projects, projects that benefit the entire region, post-disaster reconstruction projects and others. For example, Japan’s environmental measures include the implementation of the “Project for Strengthening Institutional Capacity of Mining Environmental Management” (technical cooperation project)” to transfer the technology necessary for mine information management and measures to close mines in Chile, which faces the issue of mine pollution from abandoned mines. Projects that produce benefits within the region include the “Central America Industrial Technology Center Construction Project (technical cooperation project)” for Costa Rica and the “Caribbean Disaster Management Project (technical cooperation project),” which provides cooperation in the disaster management sector including the creation of hazard maps for floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes with the objective of raising disaster prevention capacity in CARCOM member countries such as Barbados, Saint Vincent, and others. In addition, Japan is working to promote comprehensive cooperation including South-South cooperation by more developed countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

Japan’s support for migrants from Japan and ethnic Japanese includes acceptance of migrants or their children as trainees through emigration programs, and cooperation for the development of socio-economic infrastructure in specified areas including migrant areas. Examples of this type of cooperation include the “Construction of Bridges in Northern Department of Santa Cruz” in Bolivia and the “Constanza Valley Irrigation Project” in the Dominican Republic.

Beginning with an economic recession in 1998, Argentina fell into the “Argentina Economic Crisis” in December 2001 and suffered a major blow economically, socially and politically. As an emergency response package for Argentina, JICA produced a policy to support economic and social development of the country. Based on this package, in the economic sphere Japan conducted basic surveys for the stimulation of small and medium-sized enterprises and the expansion of exports, in the social sphere Japan implemented pilot projects to support the socially vulnerable in collaboration with NGOs. Japan also conducted surveys on the decentralization of public services. Japan intends to provide support for Argentina to overcome the crisis based on reports from these surveys in the future.

Column 7 Primary School Feeding Project (School Milk Project)

In primary schools in Nicaragua, there are still many students aged between seven and 12—the primary school attendance age—who do not attend school in order to work. Many of their parents have a traditional and cultural tendency to put their children to work as a source of income rather than give them educational opportunities. The children who attend school while working have poor nutrition, and it is third and fourth year students that are the most likely not to attend school. That is the current situation of primary education in Nicaragua.

Japan has implemented primary school reconstruction in over 150 schools in Nicaragua and has been strongly supporting the “hard” aspects of education. However, this alone will not get the children to go to school. To do that, Japan implemented the “Primary School Feeding Project” to improve nutrition, in cooperation with the World Food Program (WFP), the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Development, Ministry of Livestock and Agriculture, and private sector milk producers and dairy farmers. The project supplied 250 milliliters of domestically produced milk to 200,000 children at 1,200 schools every day.

This project aimed to give children an incentive to go to school by providing school meals and to improve school attendance rates. Japan provided support amounting to $4 million in 2002 and 2003.

Supplementing the nutrition of children at primary schools produced big results with the school attendance rates of primary school students increasing by 10% and the rate of participation of parents in school events rising by 20% during the implementation period of the project. And drinking milk at school every day over the long term improved the nutrition of children of poor families and got the children into the habit of consuming milk, which can be supplied domestically. Furthermore, milk production and sale in Nicaragua had previously been monopolized by foreign companies, but as a result of this project, domestic companies also began to produce milk, benefiting consumers from the price competition.

In 2003 milk producers agreed to pay 6% of the income they derived from this project back to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and currently the Government of Nicaragua itself is considering ways to continue the project. In this way, this assistance project is having an impact on the promotion of the ownership by the Government of Nicaragua. The know-how from programs implemented previously by the WFP in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports was utilized in the implementation of this program and the administrative activities and monitoring were carried out efficiently. Therefore, the project produced good results from the perspective of aid coordination as well.

So in this way Japan is implementing more finely-tuned assistance for schools in Nicaragua by implementing a combination of “soft” and “hard” support.

Children drinking milk supplied with school meals

25. This framework includes cooperation in a wide range of sectors including employment creation and the diversification of industry, vocational training, health and sanitation and AIDS countermeasures, environmental conservation, strengthening capacity to respond to natural disasters, tourism, promotion of IT, and promotion of the fishing industries. For details refer to the MOFA homepage at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/area/latinamerica/kikan/caricom/kaigi2000.html (in Japanese).

Previous Page | Next Page

Back to Japan's ODA White Paper 2003 | Back to Official Development Assistance (ODA)