Multidimensional support for Kenyan children with disabilities in extreme poverty
United Nations estimates show that some 800 million people in the world, 10% of the total global population, have disabilities. While we have strived to create a society free of discrimination or obstacles, much work remains. Particularly among the extreme poor in developing countries, families with people with disabilities tend to be more socially, economically, and culturally marginalized. In this context, KOICA has been implementing various projects based on the understanding that prioritizing support for people with disabilities is crucial to address issues such as poverty and disease among the vulnerable in developing countries and to foster self- reliance. A case in point is the Project to Support the Self-Reliance of Children with Disabilities and their Families in Kisumu, Kenya, which KOICA rolled out in two stages from 2017 to 2021 in partnership with the MIRAL Welfare Foundation.Providing special and integrated education to children with disabilities living in poverty in KisumuA community health center in Kisumu that operates a rehabilitation treatment unit for children with disabilities (photo courtesy of MIRAL Welfare Foundation)The Kisumu region in northwestern Kenya is the country s third-largest city, coming after the capital Nairobi and Mombasa; however, the local community in Kisumu, which is predominantly composed of the Luo ethnic group, continues to face marginalization. As a result, residents of the region are experiencing social and economic difficulties. Some 60% of Kisumu s total population lives in conditions of absolute poverty. Families with members who have disabilities face even greater challenges and hardships. The population of individuals with disabilities in Kisumu is 62,740, which accounts for approximately 6% of the total population, which is 959,882. Furthermore, nearly half of such families have an income level that falls below the national average consumption expenditure line. Moreover, approximately 80% of households that include individuals with disabilities in Kisumu are living below the international poverty line, which is set at less than $1.9 per day.In addition, limits to the social safety net system and prevalent community-wide prejudice against disabilities have resulted in a lack of opportunities for children with disabilities in Kisumu to socialize with peers, and access essential education and rehabilitation services. KOICA thus implemented a project in two phases to support the self-reliance of children with disabilities and their families in Kisumu, Kenya. The project aimed to raise awareness on disabilities at the community level in Kisumu and promote the social participation of children with disabilities and their families through various interventions. The first stage was conducted from 2017 to 2018, and the second stage was conducted from 2019 to 2021, supporting a total of 65 families. The main contents of the two-stage support project can be broadly categorized into improving the health and educational rights of children with disabilities, raising awareness about disabilities among local residents, and enhancing the economic capacity of families with children with disabilities.Characteristics and differences of phases 1 and 2 of the self-reliance support project for children with disabilities and their families in Kisumu, KenyaGenerating income through agriculture and poultry - Enhancing economic independence of families with childrenAmong the outcomes of this project, first is the improvement of the educational rights of children with disabilities. Among children with disabilities who participated in the project, 41 are now enrolled in schools and successfully completing their education within the system. Moreover, the average attendance rate has increased to 88.16% as of 2021. This is a figure that reaches 88-90% of the average attendance rate of Kisumu students. KOICA also improved school-related infrastructure, such as accessible toilets, to ensure that children with disabilities have continued access to educational opportunities.Through the implementation of activity assistants, KOICA has achieved two significant outcomes: increasing awareness on disabilities among local residents and enhancing the economic capacity of families with children who have disabilities. KOICA chose 23 women residents as activity assistants to provide support for disabled children s activities. These activity assistants are supported by KOICA to offer activity assistance three times a week to children with disabilities.As a result of this initiative, jobs were generated in the village, and children with disabilities were able to receive rehabilitation treatment at home at a level equivalent to that of medical facilities, thanks to assistance provided by trained activity assistants who completed professional education programs, including rehabilitation training. Through the continuous engagement of activity assistants, the perception of disabled children in the village began to change in positive ways. Negative perceptions on disabled children improved, and the overall atmosphere in the village underwent positive changes. Additionally, village women organized self-help groups to aid low-income and vulnerable groups within the community.With the support of the assistants, women caretakers who were previously unable to engage in economic activities because of time taken up caring for children with disabilities are now able to secure opportunities to enhance their economic self- reliance and generate income. In fact, women caretakers of children with disabilities received technical training from agricultural and poultry experts at the Kisumu office of Kenya s Agricultural and Agriculture Research Institute. They then began to generate profits by cultivating crops in joint workplaces and individual household workplaces. The main crop cultivated was corn, which is Kenya s staple food source. A structure was established to enable each family to secure food for themselves and earn additional income through the sale of surplus crops. In 2021, a total of 48 households cleared approximately 68.9 million square meters of arable land and achieved a yield of 8,570 kg. In the case of the poultry business during the second half of 2021, 41 households produced a total of 28,090 eggs of which 20,600 were sold, generating an income of approximately $2,055. KOICA also provided support for financial management monitoring and education to ensure that these households could effectively manage and operate their income stably.Continuing to support projects for children with disabilities until 2024 A special education class takes place in elementary schoolKOICA s project to support children with disabilities in Kisumu, Kenya is currently underway. After the completion of the second phase of the project, the Social Integration Support Project for Children with Disabilities in Nyando, Kisumu, Kenya has been implemented since April 2022. It will be implemented with a total of KRW 998 million by the end of 2024. We will guarantee the social rights of the most marginalized children with disabilities and their family members in the community and support the mid to long-term social integration of children with disabilities, by strengthening the capacity of stakeholders and expanding advocacy organizations for people with disabilities. We are promoting multi-faceted projects with the goal of strengthening social support for families with children with disabilities by improving access to public services and raising awareness about disabilities, the KOICA Kenya Office said.To achieve this goal, KOICA established the Disability Integration Education Curriculum Task Force Team, comprised of 11 experts in special education for children with disabilities in Kisumu, and actively participated in the implementation of special classes in two public schools to pilot-test the enhanced disability integration education curriculum. Competency-building training for teachers also took place. In the previous year, a total of 88 public school teachers enhanced their skills in educating children with disabilities through four training sessions.Supporting renovation of disability-friendly infrastructure such as classrooms and bathroomsSurveying the current status of children with disabilities for the identification, diagnosis, and registration of disabled childrenKOICA is also making efforts to improve infrastructure by constructing new accessible toilets and establishing two special education classes in public schools, aiming to provide more convenient educational services for children with disabilities. Constructing disabled-friendly facilities, such as Barrier-Free toilets that are designed to be more accessible for people with disabilities, helps ensure that children with disabilities can fully exercise their educational rights and access high-level education.This year, two additional schools will be selected to receive support for disability-friendly infrastructure renovation projects. In addition, a rehabilitation treatment unit was built within the project area, taking into consideration the long distance from the state hospital equipped with rehabilitation treatment facilities. Currently, three rehabilitation treatment units are operational through partnerships with public health centers and hospitals. Last year, 66 children with disabilities, who were identified as needing urgent treatment, were selected to receive systematic treatment. Efforts have also been made to improve the treatment environment, including expansion and repair of inadequate facilities. Furthermore, the Kenyan branch of the MIRAL Welfare Foundation directly hired rehabilitation therapists. In order to improve access to medical services for individuals with disabilities, KOICA has negotiated with Kenya s Ministry of Health to secure and maintain employment transfers for rehabilitation therapists starting this year. In addition to rehabilitation treatment, medical services such as prosthetic devices (which assist individuals with disabilities), medication, and surgeries are also being provided. As a result, 44 children with disabilities received assistive devices last year. Three disabled children in need of emergency surgery were selected for surgeries aimed at relieving muscle contractions caused by neuromuscular disorders and expanding the range of joint mobility.Conducting surveys on the status of children with disabilities is also part of ongoing efforts. Through surveys, KOICA is identifying children with disabilities who may be overlooked by the local community, conducting disability diagnoses, and registering their disabilities. This data will serve as acrucial foundation for mid to long-term disability awareness and environmental improvement initiatives. It will also provide evidence for policy development aimed at safeguarding the social rights of children with disabilities to be presented to Kenyan government authorities. As a result, a total of 315 children were diagnosed with disabilities last year, out of which 202 were confirmed to have disabilities. KOICA plans to expand the areas covered by the survey this year and continue its activities to ensure that children with disabilities who are identified can be connected to government support programs.Launching campaigns to raise multifaceted awareness, such as education for parentsPeer helper training site aimed to improve negative perceptions about children with disabilitiesTo advocate for the rights of people with disabilities in the community by improving awareness about disabilities, KOICA established the Disability Integration Community Committee. The committee consists of government officials, professionals in related fields, and individuals with disabilities. The committee submitted the agenda discussed through regular meetings to five disability-related government agencies, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Security, to elicit feedback and drive to cooperate on the agenda.Recognizing the critical role of families and guardians in promoting the healthy growth of children with disabilities, KOICA also prioritizes parental education as part of its efforts. Last year, KOICA conducted educational programs for a total of 283 caretaker of children with disabilities on five separate occasions. Employees of the MIRAL Welfare Foundation Kenya branch, public officials from related ministries, and rehabilitation therapists served as instructors and conducted a wide range of educational courses, including rehabilitation treatment for children with disabilities, health management, and government support. In addition, KOICA, in collaboration with government agencies, conducted a disability awareness campaign targeting 1,100 individuals, including students, parents, and local residents, and educated non-disabled students selected as peer helpers. Meanwhile, various projects are being implemented to promote practical support and exchange within the local community and at school sites.About MIRAL Welfare FoundationThe MIRAL Welfare Foundation was established in 1993 with the goal of supporting the rights and improving the quality of life for socially underprivileged individuals, particularly focusing on achieving complete social integration for people with disabilities to promote their humane lives. The foundation carries out specialized domestic welfare projects and sustainable international development cooperation projects for each life cycle in cooperation with the local community and has been granted special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council to work beyond religion, nationality, race, and political ideology.
Enhancing nutrition in first 1000 days of children in Philippines
To support the healthy and vibrant future of our next generations, KOICA is implementing projects around the world to strengthen the foundations for children s growth. The nutritional condition of a child under the age of two has significant and lifelong impacts on an individual s development. Accordingly, KOICA has been rolling out projects that recognize the crucial importance of this period. The Philippines UNICEF the First 1000 Days Nutrition Improvement Project (hereinafter referred to as the 1000 Days Early Life Project ) is a representative example. This project has been implemented in the Philippines for five years since 2018. During the project period, KOICA provided 6 million dollars to for the proper nutrition of children and pregnant and lactating mothers in the Philippines. KOICA sought to contribute to comprehensive improvement in quality of life and institutional development through various activities, such as improving the nutrition policy environment of the central and local governments in the Philippines, strengthening capacities for integrated health and nutrition services for mothers and infants, and shifting perceptions around nutrition. Malnutrition, individual suffering and national hardshipKOICA and UNICEF promoting nutrition improvement projects for children in the PhilippinesThe World Bank report Undernutrition in the Philippines, published in 2021, reveals that undernutrition has been a persistent problem in the Philippines for the past 30 years. The Philippines is one of the top 10 countries in the world with the highest number of children suffering from malnutrition. One out of three children under the age of five in the Philippines suffers from stunted growth, according to the report. Thirty eight percent of infants aged 6-11 months and 26% of infants aged 12-23 months are undernourished, while 20% of mothers suffer from anemia, the report says.The chronic undernutrition of children causes serious, long-term problems. Malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of life not only affects physical but also cognitive and emotional development. Nutritional deficiencies are deeply linked to a number of environmental problems. Children who suffer from malnutrition are less likely to access healthcare services and are more vulnerable to abuse or neglect. These problems are pointed out as factors that hinder the sustainable development of society. In particular, the regions of Samal and Northern Samal, as well as Zamboanga, Mindanao, are susceptible to natural disasters, leading to a high incidence of malnutrition among children. In the case of Northern Zamboanga, as of 2018, the poverty rate reached 51.6%, while 38% of children under the age of 5 suffered from malnutrition. The infant mortality rate is also high at 27 per 1,000 births. Meanwhile, these regions have been isolated from many projects due to the remoteness of the region and the cultural characteristics; access to basic services is limited for many of their residents. From 2018 to 2022, KOICA implemented the 1,000 Days Early Life Project with a focus on Samal, Northern Samal, and Zamboanga. Through partnerships with UNICEF and the Philippine Ministry of Health, the project was implemented with a budget of approximately $6 million, with the primary goal of providing adequate nutrition to 177,000 children under the age of 5 and enhancing the nutritional management capacity of the Philippine government.Strengthening government capacity creates visible achievements, such as fewer instances of low birth weightEnhancing nutrition for children in Philippines through various types of supportKOICA primarily aimed to increase the proportion of mothers who receive prenatal check-ups or deliver babies under specialized medical care. Additionally, the project aimed to increase the rate of complete recovery from acute severe malnutrition and improve the rate of infant vaccination. To achieve this goal, KOICA organized training programs on obstetrics and neonatal care for medical staff and midwives at hospitals and public health centers, utilizing educational materials produced by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health. KOICA also sought to improve governance related to nutrition, policy environment, and the medical service system of central and local governments. As a result, three national policy legislations related to nutrition were completed, and all 19 local governments (LGUs) announced ordinances and action plans related to nutritional improvement. In particular, KOICA successfully supported the development of the Philippine Health Administration (Philhealth) package, which guarantees outpatient and inpatient treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). In addition, treatment meals were provided to children suffering from acute malnutrition, and micronutrients and vaccinations were provided to pregnant women and children in the target area.The project achieved significant results, such as a marked improvement in the nutritional status of infants and toddlers. The ratio of infants between 6 and 23 months old who meet the minimum permitted dietary level has increased from 15.5% to 18%, and 2,519 severely malnourished infants have been cured. Furthermore, 73.9% of infants and toddlers have completed the national mandatory vaccinations, and 62.1% of mothers gave birth with the assistance of specialists. There was a 27-percentage point decrease in the number of low birth weight babies. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in the number of mothers who received vitamin A supplements, from 50% to 76%, and the number of mothers who received anthelmintic supplements also increased, from 46% to 61%. Positive effects in conjunction with the WASH program A briefing session on the completion of the 1000 Days Early Life Project was held in December, 2022The 1000 Days Early Life Project went beyond providing direct nutrition improvement services and aimed to nurture the capacities of both central and local governments, improve community awareness, and induce changes that would empower residents to act. Significant achievements have been made in improving access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Education on drinking water and sanitation-related behavioral changes has improved children s nutritional and health conditions by ensuring access to clean water and promoting hygienic living. As a result, the percentage of households with access to improved drinking water sources increased from 95% to 97%, and the percentage of households practicing open defecation decreased significantly from 15% to 6%.KOICA s 1000 Days Early Life Project did not solely focus on improving nutrition. The Philippines is a priority country for the Korean government s development cooperation efforts and is a major partner country that ranks second in terms of the scale of KOICA s bilateral cooperation projects as of 2022. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine economy had been experiencing high annual economic growth rates of 6%, but inequality remained a prevalent issue. KOICA s 1,000 Days Early Life Project for nutrition improvement is significant sought to address such social issues and establish the groundwork for the sustainable growth of national capabilities. KOICA hopes that children, leaders of the future, who have benefited from this project will go on toward healthy and fruitful lives.
KOICA's health and medical initiatives in Peru through the dot‧line‧plane strategy, One Health and embracing refugees
Director Kim Young-woo of KOICA Peru OfficeWhich country had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people during the global pandemic? The country is Peru, famous for the Inca civilization and Machu Picchu, based on World Health Organization (WHO) statistics. From the beginning of 2020 to April 2023, Peru recorded a total death toll of nearly 220,000 due to COVID-19, resulting in a death rate of 667 per 100,000 people. Peru is followed by Bulgaria (551), Hungary (499), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (498) as countries with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people.The dot line plane medical service strategy for the vulnerable population in PeruKOICA provides healthcare services to the residents of Iquitos, PeruMany factors may underlie the high number of COVID-19 deaths. In Peru, one main cause is insufficient response measures in areas with limited access to healthcare, such as the Amazon.The city of Iquitos, located in the Loreto Province of the Amazon region and accessible only be plane and ship, is home to some 400,000 residents. On March 15, 2020, after the first COVID-19 infection was reported in Iquitos and lockdown was launched throughout Peru, all air routes and waterways leading to the city were blocked. Tropical infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are also common in the Amazon region. Due to the lack of COVID-19 testing kits, it was not possible for people to determine whether they had dengue fever or COVID-19. Moreover, at that time, there were only 12 intensive care beds available in the entire state of Loreto, and the availability of general hospital beds was also severely limited. As a result, the number of deaths from COVID-19 infection increased rapidly.As an emergency response, KOICA provided approximately $1.7 million in diagnostic kits, masks, walk-through diagnostic booths, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to Peru through its ABC Program (Agenda for Building resilience against COVID-19 through development cooperation) from 2020 to 2021. Specifically, five boat ambulances for water travel and five van ambulances were provided to the public health center and hospital in Loreto to facilitate the transportation of emergency patients.The health sector is one of the four priority areas for cooperation within the Korean government s Official Development Assistance (ODA) Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Peru, and a key area that KOICA has been consistently supporting. Through collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Peru and local governments, KOICA provided support for the construction of nine healthcare facilities in central and northern Peru throughout the past 20 years, starting from the late 1990s. Currently, these medical facilities serve as important dots that provide basic health services in each community. Since the early 2020s, KOICA has been making multifaceted efforts to expand this network of dots into lines and planes to enhance health and medical services for vulnerable populations in Peru in the post-COVID-19 era.Water ambulances provided by KOICA to PeruKOICA promotes telemedicine (remote medical treatment), One Health, and refugee integrationFirst, KOICA is connecting the dots into lines by linking major medical facilities, including those supported by KOICA, in each region of Peru to enhance medical services. These efforts make up the project in Peru to digitize the health insurance screening process for vulnerable populations and establish a remote medical platform to improve access to healthcare services (2021-2026). In Peru, which has the 20th largest territory in the world and geographic barriers such as the Amazon and the Andes Mountains that make transportation between regions difficult, telemedicine (remote medical treatment) is seen as a crucial tool to enhance healthcare services in distant areas. KOICA is collaborating with the Ministry of Health of Peru to establish a telemedicine platform that facilitates remote monitoring, consultation, and image reading by connecting high-level hospitals in the capital city of Lima or other major cities with hospitals or health centers in remote areas. If hospitals in each region are connected by this line, it is expected that the health of local residents living on the plane made up of these lines will be further improved. Furthermore, KOICA aims to enhance the efficiency of insurance screening by adopting a new Rule Engine, which would enable the health insurance claim screening system managed by the Integrated Health Insurance Agency, an institution under the Peruvian Ministry of Health, to review patient information more accurately.The telemedicine system in actionSecondly, KOICA is continuously expanding support for local residents and enhancing the Peruvian government s capacity to respond to the growing instances and diversity of infectious diseases, caused by human-induced environmental destruction and pollution. For effective control of emerging infectious diseases, the concept of One Health, which integrates the management of humans, animals, and the environment in a holistic approach, is crucial. KOICA is actively utilizing the One Health approach to address the health challenges facing Peru. Since 2017, even prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, KOICA has been collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the National Response Capacity Improvement Project to Respond to New Infectious Diseases, including Antibiotic Resistance (AMR) . From 2021, KOICA is also implementing the Project to Promote Basic Health for Residents of Peru s Amazon and Reduce Tropical Infectious Diseases in partnership with World Vision. The objective of this project is to alleviate the diseases of local residents in Peru s Amazon region by addressing tropical infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. To achieve this goal, the project focuses on improving the response capacity of community medical facilities and promoting awareness and behavioral changes among local residents through village health workers.Mobile care in hard-to-reach areasLastly, KOICA plans to implement the Social Integration Support for Venezuelan Refugees in Peru and Healthcare Accessibility Improvement Project in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) by 2025. The number of Venezuelan refugees in Peru exceeds 1 million. The refugee issue has become a significant social concern in Peru, as it is closely linked to the human rights and well-being of Venezuelan refugees seeking asylum in the country. In collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization, KOICA aims to ensure that Venezuelan refugees in five regions of Peru receive healthcare services without discrimination. Specifically, the project will focus on strengthening the data management and monitoring system to identify health problems and risks faced by Venezuelan refugees. Healthcare services will be provided with consideration for human rights and gender perspectives, to ensure equitable access to healthcare for refugees in Peru. The project will also emphasize expanding communication with the local community and establishing strategic partnerships to prevent discrimination against Venezuelan refugees. Republic of Korea-Peru bilateral relations strengthened through cooperation in healthTraining to strengthen the capacity of medical staff in PeruThe year 2023 is a meaningful year that marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Peru. Our two countries have maintained friendly relations in various fields, including economy, society, and culture. Peru is often considered a must-visit destination for Korean tourists when traveling to South America. Although it is a worldwide phenomenon, the people of Peru also enjoy K-pop groups such as BTS and Blackpink, and K-dramas such as Extraordinary Attorney Woo and The Glory were also very popular. The Korean government, in collaboration with Korean companies, is currently working towards hosting the 2030 Busan World Expo, and Peru expressed its support for Korea early in August, 2022. KOICA is committed to putting forth every effort to contribute to the development of Peru and strengthening the friendly relations between our two countries. Furthermore, with the resumption of KOICA s World Friends Korea (WFK) volunteer dispatch after the COVID-19 pandemic, 18 health and medical project volunteers were sent to four regions in Peru - Callao, Piura, Iquitos, and Hu nuco. As of April 2023, the 18 volunteers have commenced their activities to prevent teen pregnancy at the Korea-Peru medical centers established by KOICA in each region.KOICA is committed to ongoing support for Peru in the future, utilizing various means of cooperation to address the challenges in the health sector. We also plan to closely analyze the changing situation in Peru, expand and improve the healthcare environment in dots, lines, and planes, and approach the sector through the concept of One Health. KOICA also recognizes the importance of finding effective support methods, such as the inclusion of refugees, and will strive to provide comprehensive support.
Latest issues at a glance KOICA NEWS
With spring in full swing, KOICA carried out various activities both at home and abroad in April. To enhance the accessibility of medical services for residents of the Peruvian Amazon, KOICA provided five land ambulances, in addition to water ambulances last year. To strengthen maternal and child healthcare services in Sri Lanka, KOICA renovated the Republic of Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital and held an opening ceremony. Furthermore, in Korea, a seminar was held to identify potential business partner companies for KOICA s ODA (Official Development Assistance) projects. In celebration of Earth Day, several events were held, including a business agreement ceremony with E-Cycle Governance for resource circulation and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) management practices.NEWS 1. Ambulance vehicles to assist the medical treatment of local residents in the AmazonAmbulances are donated to the state of LoretoKOICA supports access to timely medical services of residents in Peru s Amazon region. On March 31 (local time), KOICA held a donation ceremony to deliver five land ambulances to the state of Loreto as part of the Bio Business Productivity Improvement and Emergency Medical System Reinforcement Project to Improve the Quality of Life of Residents in the Peruvian Amazon. Loreto, the largest state in Peru and part of the Amazon region, is home to a challenging health environment due to its location surrounded by three rivers and dense jungles. The donated ambulances will be supplied to local public health centers and SAMU*, and will be actively utilized to transport emergency patients in areas affected by tropical infectious diseases and COVID-19. KOICA also provided five water (boat) ambulances to the state of Loreto last year.* SAMU (Sistema de Atenci n M vil de Urgencia / The Mobile Emergency Care System) is a facility under Peru s Ministry of Health that is dispatched in the event of emergencies, similar to Korea s 119 Safety Center, to provide emergency medical care and transport patients.NEWS 2. KOICA Platform ESG Initiative and Blended Finance SeminarKOICA Platform ESG Initiative and Blended Finance SeminarOn April 18, KOICA conducted the KOICA Platform ESG Initiative and Blended Finance Seminar with the participation of private companies, domestic financial institutions, and investment firms.The KOICA Platform ESG Initiative and Mixed Finance Project is a newly established public-private cooperation model by KOICA in 2022, aimed at expanding opportunities for private companies to participate in ODA (Official Development Assistance) projects. KOICA shared project cases of large companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Forestry with attendees during the seminar, aiming to identify new potential cooperative partners for ODA projects in relation to the KOICA Platform ESG Initiative. In addition, a Matching Day event was organized to connect companies that are currently participating in KOICA projects with companies that are interested in participating in the future.As blended finance - which combines private finance, business models, and innovative technologies with government s ODA projects - gains attention, KOICA organized a Blended Finance In-depth Meeting for Domestic Financial Companies and Investors to further explore this concept. During the meeting, opinions were exchanged with participating companies and related parties on plans to expand the mixed finance business and system improvements. Furthermore, KOICA organized a meeting, inviting domestic financial and investment companies that are currently engaged in blended finance as well as potential partners.Since 2010, KOICA has promoted 150 public-private projects in 30 countries. Since last year, four companies have been participating in projects related to ESG and blended finance.NEWS 3. E-Circulation Governance and Waste Electronics Recycling AgreementBusiness agreement ceremony for resource circulation and ESG management practice between KOICA and E-Circulation Governance On the occasion of Earth Day on April 22, KOICA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Resource Circulation and ESG Management Practice with E-Circular Governance as part of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) management. E-Circulation Governance is a non-profit organization that leads ESG activities in the field of resource circulation of waste electronic products in cooperation with the government, public institutions, and companies. KOICA plans to hand over expired or broken electronic products to E-Circulation Governance in accordance with this agreement. Approximately 1,000 worn-out home appliances from the rooms of the KOICA Training Center, which was utilized as a temporary treatment center for COVID-19 patients and a residence for research students from developing countries, are the top priority items to be handed over. E-Circulation Governance plans to recycle them in an eco-friendly way. KOICA calculates donations at the end of the year based on the proportion of discarded electronic products and provides support to the underprivileged in connection with social contribution activities.NEWS 4. Hosting Digital Innovation Day with the goal of maximizing ODA project performanceLee Yun Young, Acting President of KOICA, delivers congratulatory remarks at the Digital Innovation Day KOICA held a Digital Innovation Day event at its headquarters on April 18 as part of its Digital Innovation Week. KOICA established a digital transformation strategy for 2021 and has been promoting the digital transformation of project management. KOICA announced a roadmap at the event that includes four key directions: ▲work automation ▲improvement of internal system functions ▲introduction of commercial software ▲increased data utilization.The representative achievement of KOICA s digital transformation is the KOICA Open Data Portal service. This portal service brings together ODA (Official Development Assistance) project-related data that had been disseminated through various channels. The service invites anyone to check statistics related to developing countries, the status of KOICA support for each country, and various development index data provided by the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank (WB) in Korean and English. NEWS 5. Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital leads maternal and child health in Sri Lanka with reinforced infrastructureFront view of the Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship HospitalThe Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital has been transformed into a leading institution for maternal and child health by incorporating the obstetrics, gynecology, and neonatal departments of District General Hospital Matara.On March 31, the Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital held an opening ceremony (extension and transfer) with officials from the government of Sri Lanka and KOICA officials in attendance. The Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital is a medical institution established by KOICA in 2013 to support the restoration of damages caused by the tsunami that occurred in Sri Lanka in 2004. This region has been striving for maternal and child health, and the District General Hospital Matara, located in the same region, has been taking full responsibility for the treatment of high-risk mothers and low-weight newborns. Meanwhile, KOICA decided to transfer its obstetrics, gynecology, and neonatal departments to the Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital and initiated the Sri Lanka Matara Maternal and Child Health Care Capacity Building Project in 2016 when Matara District General Hospital encountered operational challenges. The $9 million project was implemented with a main focus on expanding the ward, renovating existing facilities, and strengthening the medical staff.The newly opened Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital is expected to become a prominent medical institution for maternal and child health in the Matara region. Experts also predict that the Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital will provide reliable public medical services in Matara, thereby contributing to the reduction of mortality among high-risk mothers and newborn babies in the region.Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Sri Lanka, who attended the opening ceremony, thanked the Korean government and people for their support in this project, and said, We hope that the Korea-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital will help reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in Matara, Sri Lanka.
KDRT, a beacon of hope amid despair
On February 6 (local time), a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the border region between southeastern T rkiye and northwestern Syria. The affected site was devastated. The tumultuous scene was filled with cries of people who had lost family members amid collapsed buildings and the hasty evacuation procession of residents. The government of the Republic of Korea dispatched 142 members (3 through an advance party, 118 through the main unit, and 21 through a second unit) of the Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) to the site to support earthquake relief efforts in T rkiye. KDRT returned to Korea on Feb. 23 after rescuing eight survivors and recovering 19 bodies, carrying out effective humanitarian assistance activities alongside efforts of the international community. KOICA, as the secretariat of KDRT, was responsible for offering administrative, logistical, and other types of support for rescue workers. The following are stories from KOICA s KDRT members who made utmost efforts to contribute at the scene, including Team Leader Kim Min-jong; Assistant Managers Kang Hae-ri, Kim Min-ji, Ryu Seon-gil, and Lee Chan-hui; and Associate Baek Joo-young. Acting President of KOICA Lee Yun-young (center) and KOICA staff(from left, Baek Joo-young, Kim Min-ji, Ryu Seon-gil, Kim Min-jong, Kang Hae-ri, Lee Chan-hwi) who served as members of the KDRT secretariat.Successful rescue of five survivors on the first day on sceneRescuers from around the world collaborate to save survivors.What was the situation like when you first arrived at the site of the earthquake in T rkiye?Kang Hae-ri: On February 8, at 6:57 a.m., KDRT arrived at T rkiye Gaziantep Airport, about 48 hours after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake had struck. We drove straight to Hatay Antakya, which was a rescue area. Yet our movement was significantly delayed due to the heavy traffic of the evacuation vehicles of affected residents trying to escape the hazardous area. Not until dawn the next day did we finally arrive at the site of our camp. As we looked around on the first day of arrival, the scale of damage at the site was so severe that I can t fully describe it all. All the buildings had collapsed beyond recognition, and the roads were in disarray, covered with building debris. Bags containing recovered bodies were scattered here and there. Bereaved families and people trying to locate their missing loved ones were in agony and unable to leave.We heard there were many difficulties starting from the first day of the rescue operation.Kim Min-ji: As soon as we arrived at the camp and unpacked, our rescuers hurried to prepare for the rescue operation. But the site was so crowded that there were no vehicles available for us to use. So out of a sense of urgency, we asked locals to help us with vehicles. The residents willingly offered to lend us their vehicles and even offered to drive us to the targeted location. It must have been very difficult for them too. Without the help of the residents, we would not have been able to rescue so many survivors on the first day of the operation.KDRT was able to save five survivors on the first day.Kim Min-jong: Yes, we rescued five survivors from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 9. Just as we arrived at the camp, the rescue team immediately left for the operation and the KOICA staff in charge of the KDRT secretariat arranged the campsite. Everyone was exhausted, but upon hearing the news that a survivor had been rescued, we were moved and energized. At that moment, all the remaining rescuers at the camp were dispatched to the scene in hopes of rescuing more survivors. The KDRT secretariat attended a UCC (Urban Search and Rescue Coordination Cell) meeting and announced the successful rescue of survivors. Officials from other countries present at the meeting came together as one in expressing their delight and applauded. Two days later, on February 11, three more survivors were rescued. I heard that they were rescued after the golden time for rescue, which lasts until 72 hours after a disaster.Kang Hae-ri: It was around the time when hope for additional survivors was gradually waning, so the news of the rescue received loud applause at the UCC meeting. There was a 65-year-old woman among the three rescued at that time, and I watched everything on the spot from the survivor s report to the rescue situation, so it remains vividly in my memory. The woman was found hugging her husband at the site of the building collapse. Unfortunately, at the time of discovery, her husband had already died, and the body was in a state of severe rigidity. Fortunately, the woman was in good health, but she was suffering from compression syndrome, which prevented the circulation of blood and body fluids. Therefore, before being rescued, fluid was injected first to allow some circulation. If she had been pulled out immediately, it could have caused shock. After confirming that the woman s physical condition had improved to some extent, the rescue operation was carried out, which took a total of three to four hours. Simple rescue wasn t enough to make us feel relieved at the scene, as was the case with this woman. We felt relieved only after safely transporting the survivors to the hospital.What was the saddest moment during the rescue operation?Kang Hae-ri: The most memorable moment was when parents requested us to recover their son s body. When the earthquake struck, the parents managed to escape the apartment through the veranda; however, their son was sleeping in another room and couldn t escape with them. Sadly, the son was presumed dead on the day of the earthquake. Rescue workers identified the body of a boy who appeared to be their son through a gap in the collapsed apartment structure, but even a small impact could cause the entire building to collapse, making rescue work impossible. Although rescue workers thoroughly explained the situation to the parents, they were not convinced. They even asked if they could borrow rescue equipment to go in and collect the body themselves. We were heartbroken when the parents cried and said that they wanted to hold their son s hand for the last time. This kind of situation often occurred in the field, and other rescue team members also carried out their work with heavy hearts. Other rescue teams request cooperation with KDRT s top-tier rescue capacitiesKDRT members working with local rescuersWhat was KOICA s role in this KDRT dispatch?Baek Joo-young: KOICA serves as the KDRT secretariat. In the event of a disaster such as an earthquake, the Secretariat coordinates all administrative aspects, including budget management, consultation with foreign agencies, coordination of personnel (such as embassy staff, media personnel, local volunteers, etc.), logistical procurement, and information gathering with international relief teams, to help rescue and medical teams focus on their rescue efforts. As was the case this time, we also directly support rescue operations at the rescue site when necessary.KDRT returned from the site of the earthquake in T rkiye after rescuing eight survivors and recovering 19 bodies. How does KDRT s performance compare to that of other countries rescue teams?Kim Min-jong: There is no official ranking of rescue personnel or performance. However, there is a platform where each rescue team reports on survivors or body recovery, and we were ranked in the top 10 among all countries conducting rescue operations at that time. When our team first arrived at the earthquake site in T rkiye, there were approximately 50 active teams; however, when we left, there were about 80 teams conducting rescue operations.Is it true that rescue teams from other countries have requested rescue cooperation from KDRT?Ryu Seon-gil: Rescue teams from several countries, including the United States and the Netherlands, requested cooperation and we were dispatched together. KDRT is a rescue team that has been certified as Heavy by INSARAG, and the news of our rescue was spread to other teams as well. We readily accepted requests and carried out rescue operations. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, we were unable to achieve significant results. One memorable moment was when the fire and rescue personnel of T rkiye lauded Korea s team for actively carrying out rescue activities in any difficult environment. What is the significance of KDRT s Heavy certification?Lee Chan-hwi: The U.N. International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) evaluates and approves international rescue teams in each country that are active in disaster sites around the world every five years and classifies them into three grades: Heavy, Medium, and Light. Rescue teams with the highest rating, Heavy, can be given priority access to the areas with the highest priority for lifesaving at overseas disaster sites. Ninety-one member countries belonging to UN INSARAG have received rescue certification, and KDRT became the 19th team worldwide to receive the Heavy certification. The rescue capability of KDRT has been recognized by the international community. As far as I know, 33 countries have received this Heavy rating.Cooperation and hospitality of local residents lead to rescue resultsA KDRT member writing a message of support for the people of Turkiye on the KDRT tentWhen was a meaningful moment for you as a KDRT member?Kang Hae-ri: Even if we were sleeping, we would always grab our equipment and respond to rescue requests when they came. Not all reports were valid, but we couldn t remain idle because even the faintest hope of finding survivors was precious. The residents were grateful for our enthusiasm, and that became a great driving force for us. Whenever we heard about people surviving after the 72-hour golden time had passed, it gave us the strength to persevere and think, If they can keep fighting, we should not give up hope just because the golden time has passed. Let s keep going and do our best. I am also curious about the local residents reactions to KDRT.Min-ji Kim: Without the attention and help of the locals, KDRT s rescue operation would have been much more difficult. The hospitality of the locals was beyond imagination. Many residents provided snacks, water, and bottled water to our camp, and some even gave a box of raincoats for us to use in case of rain. Whenever our rescue workers passed by, they said Thank you, Korea, expressing their gratitude. When they recognized KDRT written on a relief suit on the street, they hugged us, saying brother, and put their hands on their chests to express gratitude. One time, our car ran out of gas, but we couldn t refuel because the nearby gas stations had been destroyed. At that time, we came across a local fire truck that recognized our relief suits and told us where we could refuel. It was also a great help when they told us we could take the fuel for free whenever we needed it.It was decided that the first main unit of the KDRT would end its mission and return on February 12, the fifth day since arriving in T rkiye. How did you feel at that time?Hae-ri Kang: After arriving at the site, we worked tirelessly on rescue efforts for three days. There were urgent situations that required our attention without any breaks in between. But from the fourth day onwards, we could feel in our skin that the atmosphere at the rescue site had changed. The scene was too quiet. Reports of survivors and rescue activities had noticeably declined. At that time, we thought, Has the time for rescuing survivors come to an end? Focus on consistent, systematic, and continuous recovery from damageRescue work at the site of the earthquake in T rkiye continued through the nightOn rescue missions such as these, there may be members who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Do you have any response plan to address this issue?Min-jong Kim: Of course. We underwent PTSD pre-screening at the National Medical Center before leaving the country, and if necessary, we can personally contact the medical institution for treatment or consultation. During the dispatch period, you can receive psychological counseling through a private chat room with two military doctors and four nurses. Additionally, KDRT members are part of a system called SOS International that allows them to receive PTSD treatment through emergency medical services. We may say be able to smile now, but there wasn t much laughter at the rescue site. We witnessed many cases of the deceased on the streets and took care of the bodies. We have put in place various counter-stress measures for KDRT members upon their return home. What kind of preparations does KOICA make related to KDRT during normal times?Ryu Seon-gil: KOICA is prepared to dispatch KDRT quickly no matter what situation arises at any time. To strengthen its capabilities, KOICA conducts joint mock training with seven related organizations regularly. Last year, the KOICA-119(Fire Department)-Air Force Joint Comprehensive Training, which was resumed after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, was conducted. The field training, which included cargo packing, aircraft loading, and camp establishment, was of great help during the dispatch to T rkiye this time. At KOICA, we have created a roster of 42 employees who can be deployed to KDRT. We manage them periodically and provide education and training as needed. During the earthquake in T rkiye, six out of the 42 individuals who were able to quickly join the KDRT were selected and put into operation.KOICA is an organization that often offers support behind-the-scenes. What drove you to work in this area?Lee Chan-hwi: As you mentioned, KOICA was tasked with providing robust support to rescuers while they focused on rescue operations. Away from rescue sites, KOICA, as the KDRT secretariat, had to take the lead in assessing the situation and making decisions. In other overseas ODA projects, KOICA takes the lead in project implementation and providing support. In order to achieve a common goal and solve problems, I think it is necessary to have people at the forefront who lead action and those who provide robust support from behind the scenes. I think this KDRT dispatch was a good opportunity to realize once again how important support work is for our KOICA employees.Lastly, what are KDRT s plans going forward regarding earthquake recovery in T rkiye?Kim Min-jong: Immediately after the earthquake, the first KDRT unit rescued eight survivors, while the second unit delivered 1 billion won in relief goods from both public and private entities, and assessed the local situation. The Korean government has decided to pursue a $10 million public-private partnership project aimed at creating and operating temporary settlements for earthquake-affected people in T rkiye, and the third unit of KDRT made utmost efforts to prepare for the consistent, systematic, and continuous implementation of this project. Rescue capacity of KDRT recognized globallyKDRT takes an active role at the T rkiye earthquake siteAccording to United Nations figures as of March 5, the earthquake claimed 51,003 lives (45,089 in Turkiye and 5,914 in Syria) and injured more than 120,000 people. The scale of damage is enormous, with more than 2 million victims. Direct damage is estimated to exceed 45 trillion won, with nearly 200,000 buildings collapsed or severely damaged in T rkiye alone.KOICA is operating humanitarian assistance and emergency relief programs to ensure the lives and basic rights of people in crisis due to natural disasters such as the T rkiye earthquake, conflicts, or chronic crises. The methods of supporting them are largely divided into cash support, in-kind support, and the dispatch of the KDRT team.KDRT teams are promptly dispatched by the government to support damage reduction, recovery, lifesaving, and medical relief in disaster-affected countries. Since its establishment in 2007, KDRT has successfully completed a total of nine missions, including the Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008, the Haiyan typhoon in the Philippines in 2013, and the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. KDRT has maintained the highest rating of Heavy since 2011 in the rating evaluation conducted by the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group to assess the rescue capabilities of international rescue teams from each country.KDRT is largely composed of the Secretariat, Rescue Team, and Medical Team. KOICA serves as the secretariat in charge of assisting the head of the overseas emergency relief team, managing logistics and budget, attending OSOCC and cluster meetings, and coordinating and supporting KDRT field activities. The rescue team is managed by the National Fire Agency and the Central 119 Rescue Headquarters, while the medical team is managed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the National Medical Center, and the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare.
Removing unexploded ordnance, strengthening leadership and capacity for women in Laos
Laos has the largest number of unexploded bombs left in the world. This is due to the aftermath of the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1964 to 1973. Of the 270 million explosives dropped during the war, approximately 80 million, or about 30%, are scattered throughout the land as unexploded bombs. It is estimated that more than 50,000 people have been affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos thus far. The damage was not limited to loss of life. It has become a major hindrance to the economic and social development of Laos because agriculture is the country's main industry. Human casualties cause significant disruptions to the economic and social activities of individual households.For this reason, it is necessary to enhance capacity to remove unexploded ordnance and establish a sustainable system to deal with the matter in Laos. Laotian women are at the forefront of this crucial task. KOICA is assisting women and supporting the sustainable removal of unexploded ordnance in Laos. On the occasion of International Women's Day, we reviewed KOICA's projects aimed at supporting women's activities and developing the expertise and capabilities of women in developing countries. Unexploded ordnance hinder economic and social development of Laos. Unexploded ordnance found in areas throughout Laos According to annual reports from 2021, it was difficult to find women in executive positions related to the removal of unexploded ordnance in Laos. Accordingly, KOICA, which has been supporting the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Laos since 2015, has been working towards gender equality in the field of unexploded ordnance clearance as part of its gender equality project.To understand why KOICA is striving to achieve gender equality in the area of unexploded ordnance clearance, it is first necessary to comprehend the severity of the unexploded ordnance problem in Laos. The 80 million unexploded ordnance scattered across Laos were dropped during the Vietnam War era. During the Vietnam War era, 270 million bombs were dropped across Laos, which averages to 57 bombs per minute. Of these, 30% remain as unexploded ordnance and are currently causing significant damage to Laos. More than 50,000 people have died or suffered amputations due to unexploded ordnance, and as a result, the productivity of agriculture, a major industry, has declined. It is essential to reduce poverty in Laos, a least developed country (LDC) designated by the UN, and to solve the problem of unexploded ordnance for national development.Focus on strengthening government capacity beyond elementary supportLaotian women active in unexploded ordnance clearance team In this context, KOICA has been collaborating with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) since 2014 to provide training and support to the humanitarian UXO teams of the Lao People s Army as part of its project to support the removal of UXO in Laos. Since the provision of KOICA s support, the UXO removal team expanded to seven teams in 2019. The plan is to increase the number of teams to a total of 20 by 2025.In particular, KOICA has been supporting the Project to Secure Sustainability in the Field of Unexploded Ordnance in Laos since 2022. This project, which will continue until 2026, aims to go beyond providing material and manpower support. Ultimately, the goal is to help the people of Laos live safely by developing sustainable capabilities for removing unexploded ordnance and providing support to its victims. In 2016, the United Nations and Laos announced SDG 18 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which previously consisted of 17 goals. SDG 18 specifically aims to eliminate unexploded ordnance, and KOICA is actively supporting efforts to achieve this goal.KOICA's support is distinctive in that it focuses on developing Laos' own capabilities to address the issue of unexploded ordnance. With UNDP, KOICA is focusing on providing equipment to the UXO team, which is an official team financed by the government of Laos in terms of labor costs, by supporting their training and developing their capabilities. As a result, the number of unexploded ordnance removed by the team has continued to rise. The team removed 45,490 unexploded ordnance in 2019 and 51,762 in 2021. One notable factor - KOICA is ensuring that at least one of the unexploded ordnance clearance teams formed through UNDP has a female leader. KOICA is also proposing that the proportion of women in the UXO team, which is expected to increase to 20 teams in the future, be more than 15%. The project is being led by the team leader of the UXO Unit in the UNDP Laos office, along with relevant experts and staff. Moreover, since January 2022, a Korean woman has been hired as the team leader in charge of the UXO Unit and is actively involved in the project.KOICA is also actively supporting the government of Laos in strengthening its capacity to coordinate and respond to unexploded ordnance clearance efforts. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare of Laos has established an agency for UXO, which is responsible for the removal of unexploded ordnance; however, the agency's work had been limited due to a lack of human capacity and budget. KOICA thus held various meetings and performed quality control duties for the secretariat of the UXO agency in the capital and 13 regional offices. For example, KOICA has been holding quarterly technical working group meetings and supporting working group meetings in the field of unexploded ordnance twice a year, which has increased the number of annual quality control missions performed by the agency.In 2018, there were only eight cases per year, which averaged 16 cases per year between 2019 and 2022. The UXO agency also began preparing an annual report on unexploded ordnance and has been preparing and distributing it once a year since 2019.Additionally, KOICA recognized the need to collaborate with international organizations and other donor countries to clear unexploded ordnance in Laos and has started to work together with them. KOICA has also collaborated with other donor countries, such as New Zealand and Canada, in jointly participating in the UNDP unexploded ordnance clearance program. Furthermore, Korean experts have participated in the 'Performance Management of the Mekong Future Peace Community Creation Program', which collaborates with neighboring countries along the Mekong River, such as Vietnam and Cambodia, to promote landmine/unexploded ordnance removal projects. Developing future by overcoming pain of warKOICA provides vocational training and customized medical services for victims of unexploded ordnance and their families KOICA has also made efforts to prevent damage by providing education to residents in Laos on the dangers of unexploded ordnance. The agency is providing education about the dangers of unexploded ordnance and how to avoid them through radio broadcasts. The number of residents in Laos who received education in this manner has increased from 22,000 in 2019 to 84,000 in 2021, with a total of 150,000 people reached. As a result, the number of casualties from UXO, tallied at 302 in 2008, dropped significantly to 56 in 2021.KOICA also focuses on providing comprehensive support to prevent the spread of damage. One such effort is aimed at preventing victims and their families from falling into economic poverty. KOICA provides vocational training for victims of unexploded ordnance and their families, as well as livestock and equipment to help income growth and prevent economic hardship. Additionally, KOICA is promoting follow-up rural development projects to support the sustainability of the unexploded ordnance clearance project, allowing rural areas to become safer due to efforts to remove UXO. Due to economic difficulties, victims injured by unexploded ordnance explosions in Laos face challenges in accessing treatment at hospitals. In response, KOICA is providing customized medical services to victims, including mobile rehabilitation clinics and prosthetic hands. KOICA is collaborating with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and Ministry of Health of Laos, a local private organization with extensive experience in supporting victims of unexploded ordnance, and a Korean start-up with prosthetic hand manufacturing technology called Gongsaeng to promote these efforts. As a result, 106 victims received mobile rehabilitation clinics, and 15 victims received either psychological treatment or prosthetic arms in 2022.KOICA will continue to strengthen the capacity of the government of Laos to remove unexploded ordnance and provide support to ensure that the unexploded ordnance clearance team operates effectively. To increase the income of UXO victims, KOICA will actively support vocational training, employment opportunities, and business counseling. Additionally, KOICA plans to explore follow-up projects with Korean startups to further support these efforts.KOICA's ultimate goal is for Laos to achieve self-sustainability in its UXO removal operations. If the government's capacity is strengthened in the future, it is expected UXO removal will take place autonomously even with decreased support from the international community. KOICA hopes to contribute to a sense of ownership and economic growth. In particular, it is expected that women in Laos who have become economically self-sufficient and developed leadership skills through KOICA s support will take a leading role in the future growth of Laos. KOICA hopes that the gender mainstreaming of the UXO field will spread throughout the society and contribute to equality.International Women's DayMarch 8 is International Women's Day, which celebrates women's political, economic, social, and cultural achievements and calls for action on gender equality. On March 8, 1908, female workers in the United States began a protest demanding better working conditions and the right to vote, in honor of women who died in a fire in an ill-equipped workplace. The first International Women's Day event was held in Europe in 1911. The UN declared 1875 as the International Women s Year and officially recognized March 8 as International Women's Day. On this day, bread and roses are traditionally distributed to women. The bread represents economic security and the right to a livelihood for female workers, while roses signify the struggle for women's political rights and the right to vote.