JICA in Zambia: A little goes a long way.

 
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In the May issue, we published the first part of Anver Versi's report on his trip to Kenya and Zambia courtesy of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Here be concludes his travelogue.

The second leg of my tour took me to Zambia where I spent an activity packed day in Lusaka before heading off north to Ndola and Kitwe in the copperbelt. JICA's activities in Zambia began in 1970 when they sent six volunteers to teach judo to Zambian police officers. Judo instructions still continue and we were later to meet and be suitably impressed by a 5th Dan Black Belt expert at Kamfinsa, northern Zambia.

After this beginning, JICA's activities multiplied and a Resident Representative office was set-up in 1987 not only to oversee cooperation but also to implement grant aid programmes.

Since then billions of yen have gone into a bewildering variety of projects which range from national park management projects to making artificial limbs for the handicapped.

Perhaps the most impressive is the School of Veterinary Medicine attached to the University of Zambia in Lusaka. In the late 1970s, the country had only 25 vets, of which only five were Zambians. The current dean of the school, Dr Kenny Samui went to Russia to get his masters and then to the US for his PhD. "Many students were sent to China and Cuba to get their veterinary education," he recalls, "but what we needed was a school right here." The Japanese responded and by 1984 had built and equipped the stylish, red-brick school.

Courses last six years and enrollment regulations are tough. All students have to complete at least one year in natural sciences at the main university before they can apply to the school. Intake is 15-16 students per year and "only 12 or 13 stay the course."

For those who do, the rewards can be generous. So far, the school has produced 144 graduates, half of whom are employed by the government. The rest have gone into private practise or teaching at the school itself. For its part, JICA has sent some 53 long and short-term experts and 14 volunteers to the school and trained 22 staff members in Japan.

The project was designed to run for 12-and-a-half years after which the school was to be weaned away from Japanese support to be self-sustaining. The project period has now expired and money to run the school is tight. It put in a request for Kw137m to the Zambian government but received only Kw10m.

"We have set up income-generating schemes such as an animal clinic...

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