April 4, 2011

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

March 28, 2011 Pohnpei, FSM-"Japan's generosity in times of internal disaster and hardship is humbling," an article from an East African publication proclaimed as its headline. Neither the record setting earthquake and devastating tsunami nor the continuing aftermath of that March 11 disaster have washed out Japan's previous or future commitments to bilateral aid in East Africa.

What heartless soul would have blamed the government of Japan if they had hurriedly rescinded current monetary commitments in order to take care of their own tragic problems? But they have not done that in East Africa or anywhere else in the world in which they have made aid commitments including in the FSM.

If the events of March 23 through 28 in the FSM are any evidence, Japan's commitments to the FSM through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects are as firm as ever despite Japan's still gaping wound. In three separate signing ceremonies during that time, the Japanese government funded four separate programs in Yap, Kosrae and Pohnpei for a total amount of $318,693 USD in grassroots humanitarian aid to the FSM.

The first of the ceremonies took place at 10:00 on the morning of March 23 in the chambers of the Kolonia Town Council. Newly arrived Japanese Ambassador Eiichi Suzuki turned over a grant for a total of $106,382 USD to Kolonia Town Mayor Marcelo K. Peterson during that ceremony. The grant mobilized the donation of two garbage trucks and also a vehicle for collecting recycling materials. Sapporo City of Japan donated the garbage trucks with no charge only requesting that Kolonia Town maintain the equipment regularly .Ambassador Suzuki said that as Kolonia develops it also has to deal with increasing sanitation problems. The project is aimed at helping Kolonia Town to deal with the increasing problem of waste management and also to help Kolonia to further expand its ongoing recycling program.

Mayor Peterson said that the people of Kolonia Town need to take the matter of waste management and recycling seriously and challenged the editor of the Kaselehlie Press to run an ongoing series of columns about sustainable waste management and recycling in the newspaper in order to help keep the issue in the front of people's minds.

The second of the three ceremonies took place at 10:00 on the morning of March 24 at Ambassador Suzuki's residence in Nanpohnmal, Pohnpei. Kosrae's Director of the Division of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Mr. Steven George accepted a grant in the amount of $64,311 for the establishment of three payaos in Kosrae State. Payaos are fish aggregating devices that help to attract fish to a predetermined place for easier harvest.

Both George and Ambassador Suzuki said that the payaos would help Kosrae by "generating more fish" thereby allowing for a lower market rate for fish for consumers and that the payaos would lessen the consumption of fuel as fish would be concentrated in certain areas.

During the ceremony at the Ambassador's residence, the Director of Kosrae's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Mr. Weston

Luckymis accepted a grant in the amount of $95,000 USD for the purchase of a bulldozer for the Kosrae landfill. Kosrae's is utilizing the Fuguoka method for landfill because of an earlier grant by the Japanese Government.

Luckymis and Ambassador Suzuki said that the bulldozer would help to reduce Kosrae solid waste pollution by helping to close down open dumpsites and concentrate all garbage to the Centralized Landfill. Luckymis thanked Ambassador Suzuki and said that Kosrae has one more application for funding involving complementary matters of waste management that his government would like to pursue with the Japanese government. Ambassador Suzuki did not blanch as many might have expected him to do under his nation's current tragic set of circumstances. He instead gave a sanguine smile and listened attentively as Luckymis finished his speech.

According to a press release from the Embassy of Japan to the FSM, on March 28, Ambassador Suzuki and Acting President of the College of Micronesia, Mr. Ringlen Ringlen signed off on a project that will benefit the people of Nel

Village of Yap. The $53,000 USD project will be administered by Cooperative Research and Extension of the College of Micronesia. The title of the project is "Project for Improving Pig Production in Nel Village."

According to the press release, negotiations for the project "have been on-going for a while and both parties were very glad to finally reach the final stage." The benefit to the people of Nel is stated as enabling villagers to gain a stable source of income, reduce their vulnerability to poverty, and to stimulate economic development in Nel Village.

The aid that Japan provides through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects is provided with the goal of improving the livelihoods of people across the world beginning at the grassroots level.