Japan's Official Development Assistance White Paper 2006

Main Text > Part II ODA DISBURSEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 2005 > Chapter 2 Details about Japan's ODA > Section 5. Formulation and Implementation of ODA Policy > 1. System for Formulation and Implementation of ODA Policy > (5) Enhancing Functions at the Field Level

(5) Enhancing Functions at the Field Level

To further improve ODA in terms of its strategy, transparency, efficiency, and accountability, it is indispensable to strengthen the role of the field level in the development of country-specific aid strategies. Based on this understanding, the ODA Charter stipulates the policy of "strengthening functions of agencies in the field" whose specific elements are spelled out in the Medium-Term Policy on ODA. Under this policy, the functions of the ODA-TFs consisting of Japanese Embassies and aid agencies at the field level must be strengthened so that they can play a leading role in the process of policy-making and implementing ODA. In addition, it is essential that ODA-TFs grasp, comprehensively and accurately, what development issues are of highest priority for each recipient country and what Japan can do to solve these issues. In particular, it is important for ODA-TFs to gain a deep understanding of the socio-economic situations of each country and to systemize it by appointing staff with extensive knowledge and experience of the country in question, as well as having close collaboration with local people familiar with the local environment.

    ODA-TFs fulfill a wide range of roles in addition to clarifying needs of each recipient country as described above. These include participating in the formulation of Country Assistance Programs which specify the direction and prioritized sectors of Japan's assistance, undertaking policy consultations with recipient countries, strengthening cooperation with other donors, and offering suggestions on possible collaboration and review of aid schemes as well as selecting candidate projects for ODA. Among these, donor coordination at the field level is particularly important since Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) are now in the process of being formulated and revised in cooperation with donors and other related organizations under the ownership of recipient countries. Japan is also actively taking part in such activities.

    Furthermore, a post of "coordinator for economic cooperation" was established in FY2006 in order to respond appropriately to such movements in aid coordination and to strengthen the structure for collecting information and implementing studies, as well as for transmitting information overseas concerning Japan's policies related to aid coordination and making relevant recommendations. In this manner, as specified in the ODA Charter and the Medium-Term ODA Policy, Japan actively utilizes promising external human resources, and is engaged in creating a structure of overseas diplomatic missions capable of implementing assistance more efficiently and effectively.

Country-based ODA Task Forces (ODA-TFs)

One of the measures to strengthen the functions of agencies in the field, is training by teleconferencing (hereafter, "teleconference seminars") which has been implemented since FY2005 with the cooperation of the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (FASID). Teleconference seminar programs are prepared in accordance with the requests and needs of ODA-TFs. The ODA-TFs in various countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America link up and hold lively discussions on specific topics. By enabling officers and researchers in the field of development assistance both in the local area and in Tokyo to share among themselves an awareness of issues, these teleconferencing seminars are useful in responding swiftly to trends in development assistance.

    In FY2005, eight teleconference seminars were held among ODA-TFs in Bolivia, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Viet Nam and Laos. In addition to discussing topics such as governance, health, and education, the seminars took up issues shared by many ODA-TFs, including aid coordination, MDGs, and "Human Security."

A scene of a teleconference seminar for Country-based ODA Task Forces (Photo: FASID)
A scene of a teleconference seminar for Country-based ODA Task Forces (Photo: FASID)

A. Research and Analysis of Development Needs

ODA-TFs attempt to strengthen their function for research and analysis of socio-economic situations of recipient countries in order to help them meet their development needs. Through exchanging opinions with external human resources and the local aid community, including major donor countries, international organizations, NGOs, and academia, ODA-TFs acknowledge the development needs of recipient countries while taking into account the development efforts by the governments themselves.

B. Formulation and Consideration of Assistance Policies

ODA-TFs are actively involved in the formulation and planning of assistance policies for recipient countries. For example, they participate in the formulation of Country Assistance Programs and policy-making for priority and sector issues, and also undertake policy consultations with the recipient governments in order to foster shared perspectives and understandings.

C. Formulation and Selection of Candidate Projects for ODA

ODA-TFs take a lead in the process of formulation and selection of aid projects. They also consult on the necessity and feasibility of collaboration, and its review, of ODA schemes such as grant aid, yen loans, and technical cooperation in order to maximize the benefits of aid.

D. Strengthening Collaboration with the Local Donor Community

The international aid community has been taking global initiatives to establish common development goals and strategies, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As a contribution to this effort, ODA-TFs participate actively in donor coordination in a manner consistent with Japan's assistance policies, while staying in close collaboration with the local aid community, principally international organizations and other donors.

E. Strengthening Collaboration with Japanese Relevant Parties in Recipient Countries

ODA-TFs engage extensively in dialogue with Japanese relevant parties that are active in recipient countries, including NGOs, academia, and economic organizations (including private enterprises operating in the recipient country). Through maintaining dialogue, ODA-TFs strengthen collaboration with these entities while making the most of Japan's high-quality technology, knowledge, human resources, and institutions.

F. Review of Japan's ODA

ODA-TFs are reviewing: (1) the goals and purposes of Japanese assistance to recipient countries; (2) the direction of assistance; (3) the prioritization of sectors and issues; and (4) the policy implementation phase.

G. Information Disclosure and Public Relations

With respect to the transparency of Japan's ODA, ODA-TFs will work actively on the publicity of their activities via websites and other means.