Despite the remote geographical distance between Sudan and Japan, the two countries have been associated
with bilateral relations since the early sixties, and have been going on in various areas of technical and financial aid.
The relations between Khartoum and Tokyo have achieved great success built on exchanged confidence among the people of the two countries.
Japan is working hard in providing Sudan with the Japanese expertise through receiving Sudanese delegations in Tokyo or sending Japanese experts to Khartoum to provide latest technologies and assistances.
Japan Provides Sudan with assistance in various fields, including health, education, water, technical and technological training, along with its efforts in achieving peace in Sudan, and providing assistance to the war-affected areas and people.
Sudan Vision Managing Editor caught up with the Ambassador of Japan in Khartoum, H.E. Mr. Hideko ITO and conducted the following brief interview.
Q: What are the main areas in which Japan is assisting Sudan?
A: This question deserves long explanation; we have three main pillars types of assistances, the first one is concerned with agricultural development. All Japanese assistance is either technical assistance or grant. Sudanese people don’t have to pay back to Japanese government in the future. In the field of agricultural development, the technical assistance we have technical assistance to grow upland rice in six states and, also as in the field of grant assistance we established a couple of irrigation water stations, in Alyab three years ago, in Kitiyab two years ago, both in River Nile State. These are agricultural development.
The second main pillar is in the area of basic human needs. This includes health, water, vocational training and environment. Again we have technical assistance and grant assistance. In health sector, we have long experience in training midwifes in Sudan. I can proudly say that most midwifes in rural areas and villages received Japanese direct or indirect trainings. We have long tradition in training midwifes in Sudan. In grant assistance field we are now establishing mother and child care hospital in Um Baddah, Khartoum state. As you know, Japan also established Ibni Sina hospital long time ago, this in health sector.
As regard to water assistance we have long tradition here in Sudan of providing training to local officials to better manage water. Most of officials working water field in Sudan in one way or another, received Japanese training. In the field of the grant assistance we are constructing a water treatment station in Kosti.
Also we provide vocational training all over Sudan. We focus on Kassala State and North Kordofan State.
From 2010, we started a project in the field of environment, here I mean waste management. There is cooperation between Khartoum State government and Japanese government. There is technical assistance as well as grant assistance. In the field of technical assistance we introduced a new method of waste management, utilized in Tokyo, we fixed time fixed place of collections, in order to support this new method we provided 104 new garbage collecting vehicles and constructed a Central Workshop for their maintenance.
The third pillar is consolidation of peace. We try to give people peace dividend. we encourage people to maintain the peace. In this framework we provided technical assistance, providing training to the local officials on water, sanitation and other services, in Kassala city. We also established a water treatment station. we rehabilitated the old water treatment station 3 years ago, we established a new additional water treatment station in Kassala. The clean water you find when you visit Kassala is made by Japan, this what we are doing in Kassala, we try to extend this experience to other states.
As regard to peace consolidation in Darfur, we organized training to local officials in Darufur states; the training is in the field of health, water, vocational training and project monitoring. If the local officials provided better services to local people that leads to the trust between the government and the local people, which also leads to stability of situations, we continue to consolidate peace and to improve situation, these are the three pillars we are focusing in Sudan.
Q: Japan has solar energy projects in Sudan; do you have additional projects in 2017?
A: We try to incorporate renewable energy in our projects. For example we will implement a new project which supports small scale farmers in Kassala, including digging wells operated by solar panels.
Q: Do you have any project to assist Sudan to implement Sustainable Development Goals SDGs, what kind of assistance do you provide to Sudanese youth in particular?
A: I mentioned three main pillars we mean the assistance that is provided by JICA, particularly the projects in the field of basic human needs, is also assisting Sudan in achieving SDGs. but in fact, that is not the only way Japan providing assistance. In addition to that, we have other programs. We have Grass Roots Human Security Assistance. Utilizing the program, we have implemented more than 70 projects in Sudan. As a Japanese Ambassador to Sudan since September 3 years ago I handed over 8 elementary schools, Mutmar in River Nile State, Wad AL Mahi in Al Geziera State, Forobaranga in West Darfur State, AL Khatmia in Kassala State, Al Nizeiha in White Nile State, AL Mansora in North Kordofan State, Abu Hogar in Sinar State and Tangasi-Ruwais in Northern State
Tomorrow, I am going to North Kordofan. The main purpose is to hand over a elementary school in Tabildia to the people. Also we are now constructing new school in New Halfa.
We also provided Sajana Youth Centre with sports equipment in Khartoum. In 2020 Japan will host Olympic Games; there is exchange of visits between Sudanese and Japanese wrestlers. There is a good coordination in the field of wrestling.
These are the things we do to support youth in Sudan.
Q: Is there many Sudanese studying Japanese languages?
A: In Khartoum University there is a Japanese language course. Unfortunately the capacity is limited, we can’t accommodate all who want to study Japanese language.
Q: Are there any obstacles in supporting humanitarian assistance and development projects?
A: there is no obstacle in general except for minor problems. When we go outside Khartoum sometimes the process takes a long time, but finally we can get travel permits every time.
Managing Editor: We will reflect this to the government to pay attention to the restrictions that face officials?
Amb.: it is good if they accelerate the process.
Q: Did you visit many places in Sudan?
A: As an Ambassador my purpose is to promote ties between Sudanese and Japanese people. I go out and talk to people. We don’t have hidden political agenda to make relations with Sudanese people or to assist them. I visited almost all states in Sudan
Q: Do you think lifting sanctions have impact on Sudanese Japanese trade exchange?
That is good news, but it is difficult to foresee what is going to be happening after six months, the sanctions affected money transferring. My concern after lifting sanctions is what reaction banks will take, since there is over-compliance among them. Business circumstances between Sudan and abroad may become better.
Q: Have you any message to Sudanese people, have you evaluated Japanese assistance in Sudan?
I have visited many places and states in Sudan. My first visit outside Khartoum was to Shukaba village in Al Geziera State to see projects on the ground, , I saw people raising their fists and holding swords. Because I was new to Sudan and I didn’t know local customs, I thought they were demonstrating against me. But soon I understood that it is the way Sudanese people express happiness to our projects, I am very happy that Sudanese people are happy with Japanese assistance.