Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - People-centric projects are top priority for JICA in the Kingdom

People-centric projects are top priority for JICA in the Kingdom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Cambodian student takes the final practical exam for the higher diploma in electrical work. Photo supplied

People-centric projects are top priority for JICA in the Kingdom

The government’s goal of Cambodia becoming a high middle-income country by 2030 before reaching high-income status by 2050 could well become a reality given Cambodia’s stellar economic growth of 7.3 per cent over a decade, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, these ambitious targets can only be achieved by diversifying the Kingdom’s domestic economy and by developing human capital to support growth.

Towards this, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has played a critical role in assisting the socio-economic development of Cambodia.

Improving TVET

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to produce a skilled workforce to meet growing market demand – especially as the Kingdom prepares for Industry 4.0 – will remain one of the top priorities.

The sector faces numerous challenges, from a lack of physical infrastructure, training equipment and materials, as well as the limited capacity of management officers and technical instructors, as highlighted in the TVET Master Plan 2021-2025.

To address this, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, with the support of JICA, initiated the “Project for Improving TVET Quality to Meet the Needs of Industries” in 2015 to develop a skilled workforce to shape Cambodia’s future socioeconomic development. This is set to end in March.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The JST and JICA have teamed up to drive SATREPS. Photo supplied

The project rests on five key pillars. The first of these include the development of a standard training package (STP) for a higher diploma in electrical work, providing STPs to instructors and developing systems to disseminate STPs for the higher diploma in electrical work to non-pilot TVET institutes.

It also focuses on developing systems to maintain and manage training facilities and equipment at pilot TVET institutes, as well as strengthening partnerships between the industries and pilot TVET institutes.

JICA has been working closely with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the pilot TVET institutes to achieve these goals.

The outcomes have been successful, with private companies that have hired graduates being pleased with their performance.

Developed by the National Training Board as the first diploma-level national curriculum, the STP was approved last September.

At pilot institutes, JICA has implemented a range of initiatives, including conducting seminars on using training equipment and collaborating with the Department of Labour Market Information to hold the National TVET Day.

It has also worked with the National Employment Agency to hold the National Career and Productivity Fair, and organised skills competitions.

Covid-19 and flood victim support

JICA has also been working with the Ministry of Health to strengthen healthcare infrastructure through its Grant Aid and Technical Cooperation project since 1995.

Facilities and medical equipment have been upgraded at the National Maternal and Child Health Center (NMCHC), the National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP) at the National Center for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control (CENAT), and the Sihanoukville Hospital, as well as the Mongkul Borey, Kampong Cham, Svay Rieng, Battambang and Siem Reap referral hospitals.

The upskilling of healthcare workers has been accomplished through JICA technical cooperation, such as with the Project for the Promotion of Monitoring and Evaluation Management System, and the Project for Strengthening Human Resource Development System of Co-Medicals.

It has also been carried out through the Project for Improving Continuum of Care with a focus on intrapartum and neonatal care.

JICA also provided a SuperScript III Platinum and One-Step Quantitative RT PCR system to the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) last July as part of its Covid-19 assistance.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
JICA has provided Covid-19 detection kits to the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. Photo supplied

In order to increase Covid-19 testing capacity, JICA contributed a further eight kits of SuperScript III Platinum and One-Step Quantitative RT PCR to the IPC on February 6, while another eight QIAamp Viral RNA Mini Kits were delivered on February 18.

It will also provide three thermo-graphy kits, including tripods and laptops, to the NMCHC for Covid-19 screening in April.

JICA has also promoted health awareness at the grassroots level with “The Project for Enhancing Covid-19 Prevention through Community Outreach”.

The programme provided training on Covid-19 prevention to 312 garment and textile factory workers in Bavet town in Svay Rieng province, while face masks and hand sanitiser were also distributed to health centre staff in the province.

JICA also delivered medication, hand sanitiser and soap to provincial health departments in Kandal, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Pursat provinces after severe flooding last October.

Tonle Sap Lake conservation

JICA has also been active in environmental projects.

The Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) is an initiative to promote international joint research using advanced Japanese science and technology through Japan’s Official Development Assistance.

The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and JICA teamed up to drive SATREPS, which will promote Sustainable Development Goals at the global level.

Additionally, the “Establishment of Environmental Conservation Platform of Tonle Sap Lake” is a five-year project funded by JICA and JST.

In Japan, the project is led by the Tokyo Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Institute of Global Environmental Strategies and Yamagata University.

The Institute of Technology of Cambodia is spearheading the project by partnering with the Ministry of Environment, the Tonle Sap Authority, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Experts are aiming to develop a water environment analysis tool for the Tonle Sap lake and establish an environmental conservation platform through the elucidation of the lake.

JICA recently distributed calendars to schoolchildren and residents living around the lake as part of a public awareness campaign on the importance of proper sanitation and the supply of clean water for public health.

Some key findings and evidence-based recommendations from the SATREPS project can be found at https://www.iges.or.jp/en/pub/tonlesapsatreps/en.

In addition, a video on the SATREPS project has also been developed to inform about recent environmental changes in the Tonle Sap lake and the impacts on local people, their livelihoods and public health. This can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cvUyD6mpxk&t=41s.

JICA organised the 5th International Symposium on the Conservation and Management of Tropical Lakes – held online from February 4-5 – which was held in conjunction with the 13th Regional Conference on Chemical Engineering 2020.

The virtual conference included the 5th Joint Coordinating Committee on the “Establishment of Environmental Conservation Platform of Tonle Sap Lake” project.

This reviewed the project’s achievements and the challenges faced in 2020, as well as action plans for the final implementation of the project in March next year.

Japanese volunteers

Meanwhile, the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) programme was suspended for nine months from last March due to the Covid-19 outbreak. More than 1,800 JICA volunteers worldwide returned to Japan, including 20 volunteers from Cambodia.

However, with Cambodia’s efforts in combating the pandemic, volunteers were able to return to the Kingdom last December to resume their activities.

While there may be some challenges, this year’s recruitment and dispatch will proceed as planned, with JICA will starting recruitment this autumn.

Around 30 volunteers will be dispatched by this year to Cambodia in the fields of health, vocational training, education and sport, mainly primary school education, science and physical education, particularly swimming and football.


  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol