Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has promised to double his country’s aid to Africa within five years. Mr Fukuda made the pledge in front of leaders from more than 50 African countries at the opening session of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in Yokohama.
Japan is competing with other countries like China and India for access to Africa’s markets and to its natural resources. But it also wants to help. Mr Fukuda pledged that by 2012 Japan would double its aid to Africa, currently $1.7bn (£850m), increasing it gradually year by year to meet the target. That sounds generous, but Japan gives less to the continent than the United States does, and also less than Britain, France and Germany – three countries with smaller economies than Japan.
Japan will also provide ODA loans of up to 4 billion US dollars to Africa to improve African infrastructure.
Japan’s development aid will focus mainly on health such as the training of 100,000 health workers and increased support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and water.
Japan will organise a new technical assistance corps of water specialists to be known as “W-SAT,” or the “Water Security Action Team”, which will be dispatched to work on the ground in African nations. This initiative is intended to provide access to water to as many African people as possible by sending specialists in underground water resources and water supply system management.
The TICAD IV Yokohama Action Plan includes several references to WASH activities:
Improve human settlements by establishing community development committees to improve housing, sanitation, water supply and drainage facilities.
Establish child-friendly school environment through comprehensive packages of assistance including safe water and sanitation facilities with separate toilets for boys and girls, school feeding, or food for schooling (take-home ration) and first aid and referral services.
Enhance life-skill education, including on prevention of HIV/AIDS and improvement of hygiene behaviors.
Make efforts to control or eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases through awareness raising, treatment and access to safe water and sanitation.
Promote the development of water and sanitation facilities with affordable technologies.
Support capacity building of managers and users of water and sanitation system and promote awareness raising campaigns to improve hygiene practices including hand washing.