Announcement Archive

DRM Practitioners from Africa and Asia come to TDLC to Learn from the Experience of Tohoku Japan

Friday, July 19th, 2013

story from Tokyo Development Learning Center

“Learning from Tohoku’s Recovery,” an international technical workshop on disaster risk management and post disaster reconstruction organized by the World Bank, International Recovery Platform (IRP), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Tohoku took place at the World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center on June 24, 2013.

The workshop was part of a 4-day policy dialog program, which included a 2-day site visit to Sendai for the foreign participants. The workshop participants consisted of Japanese and foreign government officials and practitioners of disaster risk management. The foreign country delegates were invited from 5 different countries that are particularly susceptible to disasters. They came from Indonesia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and the Maldives.

“A lot of money has been spent on disaster.  A lot of it was spent after the disaster, on recovery,” said World Bank Special Representative to Japan, Kazushige Taniguchi at the session’s opening. He urged that the disaster risk management should be viewed as an investment and preparedness to mitigate risks associated with disasters. The World Bank and the Government of Japan have been working together for the purpose of mainstreaming disaster risk management on the international agenda because disasters, particularly megadisasters are major obstacles to development of a country.

The workshop is part of a broader project “Learning from Megadisasters”, a knowledge sharing project sponsored by the Government of Japan and the World Bank launched in October 2011 that aims to share Japanese knowledge on disaster risk management and post disaster recovery and lessons learned from the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and its aftermath with other countries susceptible to disasters.

The session held on June 24 introduced six presentations by Japanese experts, some of who were present at TDLC and others who were connected via a videoconference line. After the presentations, a Q&A session followed allowing the participants to ask questions and engage in discussions with other participants and presenters. The whole event was also webcast live, to allow other interested parties and stakeholders who were limited by the physical travel to the Tokyo venue to also take part in the discussions. The topics and activities included the following:

  • Lessons in recovery planning, permanent housing, and cultural property
  • Lessons from recovery process of the nuclear accident in Fukushima
  • Collaborations between government and universities
  • Practical activities to apply the lessons to support the workshop participants’ countries strengthen their recovery mechanisms

In the beginning of the Q&A session, the participants raised questions that asked for clarifications about the Japanese cultural context. In particular, the participants were impressed with the low level of looting and disorderly conduct by the Japanese citizens in disaster stricken areas. They also showed particular interest in how the Japanese government and NGOs worked with internally displaced persons (IDPs). 

A JICA expert who had worked in Uganda in the past and who is also familiar with the situation of the internally displaced persons in Fukushima commented that despite certain circumstantial differences between the IDPs in Africa and those in Fukushima, there are many common concerns and issues among the two groups. In this respect, she proposed Japan and African states to work together to exchange and deepen knowledge on IDPs.

On the second and third day of the workshop, the participants invited from the 5 countries traveled to Sendai and visited the disaster affected sites and met with representatives of Tohoku University. On the last day of the program, the group came back to Tokyo and met with Japanese officials in the Japan Meteorological Agency, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and the Cabinet Office for further discussions.

“I am very happy that Japan and the people of Japan who have a very rich experience in the management of disasters, especially megadisasters were kind to accept us and to share experiences” thanked Musa Ecweru, Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees of the Government of Uganda.  He said that he and the rest of the team had come to Japan with open minds, vigilant eyes, and a lot of energy to learn.  “We came prepared to share our little experiences with you and to benefit from the wealth of Japan’s experience so that we can go back and make our respective countries a place where we can sit with a bit of certainty for the future. “

DRM Session 06242013
Participants of “Learning from Tohoku’s Recovery” at TDLC