JICA seeks city’s top experts in implementing aid programs

THE JAPAN International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has asked for a dedicated team of experts from the city government to assist in the implementation of aid programs that would benefit the city.

Earlier this month, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio ordered city hall officials and employees to assist JICA in their feasibility study of projects here.

JICA is pursuing various projects, such as a solid waste management program, used cooking oil to biodiesel pilot, and a traffic infrastructure study, with several officials of the aid agencies already based here to conduct the said studies.

Japan and Davao City have maintained a stable relationship. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the city earlier this month.

Ken Kumazawa, team leader of the JICA study here, told a conference with Davao City government counterparts that the teams from both sides need to work together in various capacities for several of the projects.

These include adjusting to existing resources, such as studies by the Davao City Planning and Development Office and other agencies of the city.

Aside from city-based data, the Japanese team is also seeking for consolidated regional and national data.

At the moment, the city’s information is limited, with a periodic review instead of regular census being conducted by the city’s planners.

As such, Kumazawa said, the Japanese team here does not have access to the latest data on nighttime and daytime population, among other information.

“We cannot imagine a future land use expansion because we don’t know the night time population distribution,” Kumazawa said.

“Also, we don’t know the day time economic activity, and what kind of activities there are.”

According to the Japanese proponent, there is a need to strengthen existing government infrastructure to improve on the current ones being planned and implemented.

For example, in the case of public transportation, the city government should already be working on a suitable mass transit system, which could be proposed in short-term (2022), medium-term (2030), or long-term (2045).

Both Japanese proponents and city government officials also benchmarked on an earlier study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the proposals to improve the city’s transport systems.

According to the proponents, the JICA study need not begin a new one but may use or continue the existing study conducted by the ADB some five years ago.

“We propose an infrastructure plan corresponding to the time frame,” Kumazawa said.

For the city government’s part, assistant city administrator Tristan Dwight Domingo said the city would assign employees from the planning office for the task, along with other key members from previous similar projects.

However, Domingo asked the JICA team to inform the city government in advance of possible schedules, as the employees “already have much on their plate.”

Abe, during his visit to the Philippines, promised to pour in infrastructure aid to the country, especially in areas in Mindanao, including Davao City.

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