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ODA Expert Meeting held by the Foreign Minister’s leadership Aiming to strengthen International NGOs Mitsuya Araki, Editor-in-chief of IDJ


『International Development Journal』 2018 October edition

NGO should be strengthened

The first meeting of the “ODA Expert Meeting” established by the request of the Foreign Minister, Taro Kono, was held on July 25, 2018 with the aim of strengthening international NGOs. Thirteen experts including international NGOs, university professors, think-tank researchers, lawyers, business people, development consultants, journalists and others took part in the meeting. I also participated as a journalist.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained about the purpose of the meeting; “It is necessary to use ODA more effectively and strategically than ever within a limited budget. From that point of view, the necessity to draw out the power of various implementing entities is increasing. To that purpose, we will strengthen the agencies involved in ODA (development NGOs, private organizations, local governments, etc.) and discuss how we can share the roles.”
The first point of the issue is strengthening NGOs (funds, human resources, awareness, etc.). The second is how to implement ODA projects by diversed workers.
In the presentation on NGO assistance through ODA by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (1) Collaboration with Japanese NGOs by grant assistance in FY2017 is 5.07 billion yen, 113 cases. (2) The financial contribution to Japan Platform (emergency humanitarian assistance) is 5.82 billion yen for 83 cases in FY2017. (3) The grassroots technical cooperation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a joint implementation project with NGOs, universities and local governments, with the results of FY2017 totaling 980 million yen, 90 cases. It is not increasing these 4~5 years. NGOs are not paid important attention within ODA. These issues will also be discussed at this conference.
Looking at the history of Japan’s ODA such as main Japanese yen loan, it was called as economic cooperation since 1950s and 60’s. To contribute to the economic reconstruction and development of Japan, the majority of them were “tied aid” received by Japanese companies. From the international community, it was criticized that “Japan’s aid is commercial assistance”.
However, as Japan became the top donor, it tried to eliminate tied aid and make them untied. But, thereafter, during long slower economic growth, Japan returned to ODA thatemphasizes national interest as symbolized by export infrastructure.

Evolution of ODA

In Japan, it seems that we are entering the era of public participation and international cooperation with citizen’s participation. So we’d better show an aspect of “Evolution of ODA”. Under such policy orientation, we also need to review and strengthen the broader roles of NGOs and NPOs in order to create a trend of international cooperation involving citizens widely.
The 3rd revision of “Development Cooperation Charter” emphasizes a wide range of “public-private partnership” as a basic concept. In order to realize this, strong collaboration with NGOs and NPOs is required to implement ODA. Especially the operating agency JICA should seriously consider collaboration not only with development consultants but also with various NGOs and NPOs. Although NGOs are certainly lacking in technical expertise, while recognizing the social strengths of NGOs, it is necessary to have a policy intention to nurture them as the strong player of international cooperation.
Turning to the United States, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has appointed NGOs and NPOs in various stages of aid. In the United States, NGOs are called as PVO (Private Voluntary Organization) and 80-90% of emergency food aid has been implemented through PVO. Also, in Article 123 of the Foreign Assistance Act of the US, 16% of the aid cost of development assistance (agriculture, rural development, population, health and sanitation etc.) is set to be spent through NGOs.
For example, there are cases where NGOs participate in existing projects, and NGOs themselves find cases and request USAID. However, NGOs themselves should consider their own autonomy and at least 25% of the requested project costs are borne by NGOs.Since the Cold War, the US has emphasized education and health cooperation based on national strategic policies. However, it has entrusted its role to private NPOs and NGOs, not directly by the government. In that long history, NPOs and NGOs in the United States grew dynamically.

International cooperation of civilian sense

There are such historical differences in Japan and the US. However, in Japan, as the more interest in socially vulnerable people increases, the more people’s awareness of social contribution is increasing. Among them, humanitarian awareness will deepen and it will be sensitive to the consciousness of relief to the weak people both inside and outside.
In ODA projects, we should deepen the policy intention that it is not merely a government-only project but a citizen participation project. Otherwise, we will not be able to gain the support of citizens for future ODA projects. On the other hand, if NGOs and NPOs also lose their civic ideas, they will lose public support widely.
An essay contest that was held on the 50th anniversary of our company established, is a great reference for knowing the public consciousness to the recent ODA.
For example, let’s look at an essay entitled “Public-Private Partnership” on the subject. “Assistance to utilize convenience stores as social assets of developing countries to create strong regional communities that can eliminate poverty and disasters”, “ODA version of Home Improvement Tax Plan for Indonesian regional development”, “International Disaster Prevention Cooperation making full use of Japanese experiences of disasters” , “international cooperation in local urban areas”.
In order to make use of such citizen’s sense, we need to change traditional ideas and styles of ODA. Even if we try to cooperate with a wide range of citizens in the “Development Cooperation Charter”, we cannot keep up with the new trends and cannot create a new system.
Under such circumstances, the ODA Expert Meeting was held attended by Foreign Minister to think fundamentally strengthening international cooperation NGOs. Taking this opportunity, we need to deepen discussion on NGOs, in particular, why international NGOs don’t grow in Japan like Western countries and how we can develop Japanese international NGOs. I want this occasion to become a milestone for new public-private partnerships.

By Mitsuya Araki, Editor-in-chief of IDJ

***** 以下、日本語原文 *****
羅針盤 外相主導で開かれた「ODA有識者懇談会」―国際協力NGOの抜本的強化を目指して編集主幹 荒木光弥




 目を米国に転じると、国務省の米国際開発庁(USAID)は援助の色々な局面でNGO、NPOを登用している。米国ではNGOをPVO(Private Voluntary Organization)と呼び、無償の緊急食糧援助の80~90%がPVOを通じて実施されてきた。また、米国の対外援助法123条では開発援助(農業、地方開発、人口、保健衛生など)の援助費のうち16%はNGOを通じて支出するよう定められている。


  最近のODAに対する国民意識、市民意識を知る上で、本誌創刊50周年で募集した小論文コンテストが大きな参考になる。 たとえば、「官民連携」というテーマで応募があった小論文を見てみよう。 「コンビニを開発途上国のソーシャルアセットとして活用し、貧困や災害に負けない強い地域共同体の創造を図る援助」、「インドネシア地方開発のためのODA版ふるさと納税制度」をはじめ、「日本の災害援助体験を生かした国際防災協力」、「地方都市部の国際協力がわが国の未来に希望をつなぐ」などがある。

『国際開発ジャーナル』主幹 荒木 光弥

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