ODA continues to play vital role

February 11, 2024 | 21:40
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Vietnam is cooperating with Japan on new schemes of official development assistance. Sugano Yuichi, chief representative at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Vietnam, spoke with VIR’s Thanh Dat about how these ties will be implemented in 2024 and beyond.

How did official development assistance (ODA) cooperation between Vietnam and Japan perform in 2023?

ODA continues to play vital role
Sugano Yuichi, chief representative at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Vietnam

Along with the recently upgraded relations of the two nations, which opens a new era for mutual cooperation and is an important premise to promote ODA in 2024 and the coming years, the official visits of the leaders last year boosted the dialogue between the two sides and clearly shaped the needs as well as plan of support in more open and concrete way.

In particular, during PM Pham Minh Chinh’s recent visit to Japan, the agreements for three ODA cooperation projects were signed: one for Ho Chi Minh City urban railway line 1 construction; one for medical equipment at the National Cancer Hospital; and one for the human resources development scholarship. This shows the strong willingness of both sides to speed up essential cooperation for the socioeconomic development of Vietnam.

Furthermore, in compliance with the needs of the government regarding flexibility, JICA signed a loan agreement in July 2023 for general budget support programme for Vietnam’s post-pandemic socioeconomic recovery and development, which can be considered a pioneering project for the new-generation ODA programme.

What will be opportunities for Japan and Vietnam to further cement their ODA cooperation in 2024?

The cooperation orientation that JICA offers to Vietnam in 2024 and the coming time will be focused on four areas: high-quality infrastructure development, human resources development, healthcare, and response to climate change. These are also focused on by the Vietnamese government and were emphasised by PM Chinh in his recent visit to Japan. The harmony of JICA’s cooperation plan and Vietnam’s actual needs in the context of the two countries’ relations being upgraded to the highest level is considered a great opportunity to strongly promote ODA more than ever.

Could you elaborate more on these four prioritised areas?

The first focus is high-quality infrastructure development. The Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien line 1 section of the Ho Chi Minh City urban railway construction project is a typical example of cooperation between Vietnam and Japan, and the fourth loan agreement was signed at the very end of last year.

The project construction has been mostly completed, and once the railway is put into commercial operation, it would contribute to resolving issues of Vietnam including road traffic, air pollution, and to empowering marginalised people such as the elderly and women. In order to further enhance its value, traffic management and transit-oriented development need to be focused more.

The second focus is laid on human resources development. Vietnam faces a shortage of skilled human resources such as middle-management staff and skilled workers for industrial development. In response to this, besides the project at the Vietnam Japan University that enhances the education, research and university management capacity, through JICA’s another project that supports the job information connection for Vietnamese people to work abroad, a system that would help the workers who wish to work in Japan to obtain required information on employment opportunities will be launched.

The third focus is laid on the healthcare sector. In 2024, JICA plans to launch a new technical cooperation promoting telehealth, aiming to expand the scope of diagnosis and treatment in districts and communes enhancing the capacity of health professionals at local facilities. This will pave the way for improving the collaboration among healthcare units in Vietnam, bringing about big benefits to patients, and supports strongly Vietnam’s National Digital Transformation Roadmap to 2025 and vision to 2030, including digital health transformation.

The fourth focus is in response to climate change. In line with the commitment of ’Vietnam’s government on carbon neutrality by 2050, JICA has been working on climate change mitigation through various initiatives: strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and relevant ministries in implementing the UN’s Nationally Determined Contributions, promoting renewable energy through a private sector investment and financing scheme, and formulating the forest protection and management project by utilising the Green Climate Fund.

JICA’s efforts in adaptation are also underway, especially in disaster risk reduction. Projects on flood management, landslides, flash flood countermeasures, and weather observation and forecasting have been implemented in alignment with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

In 2024, JICA plans to commence a new technical cooperation project to support the formulation of an integrated flood management plan along Vu Gia-Thu Bon River basin. Construction of the first sediment control dam in Vietnam will start with the northern province of Son La. We have also been providing ODA in agriculture, governance, energy, urban development, and so on. In this new era, JICA will continuously listen to the voice of people in Vietnam to maximise the effectiveness of ODA in line with their true needs.

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By Thanh Dat

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