'Resolving global crises, strengthening ODA capabilities, realizing universal values'
Current global crises including disasters, climate issues and conflicts cannot be resolved solely through the will and efforts of individual countries. The crises of today are complex and occur simultaneously, quickly spreading to neighboring countries and causing other crises in succession. To overcome such challenges, global solidarity and cooperation must come first. KOICA, along with numerous advanced donor organizations, considers partnership as the key to development cooperation and is carrying out various related projects with development actors at home and abroad. We spoke with President CHANG, Won Sam, who assumed office in 2023 to discuss KOICA s directions for partnerships and more. President of KOICA CHANG, Won SamQ What is your view of Korea s current Official Development Assistance (ODA)? What are some ways we can achieve improvements?So far, Korea's ODA has demonstrated significant progress in both scale and system. The government raised the ODA budget by 21% in 2023 compared to 2022, and aims for a further increase by more than 40% in 2024 compared to 2023. If realized, it is anticipated that the government's goal of more than doubling the ODA budget by 2030 compared to 2019 will be accomplished ahead of schedule. Expanding ODA despite an austerity fiscal policy symbolizes our government's strong determination to increase its contribution to the international community as a Pivotal Global State.It is also encouraging that we are experimenting with diverse policies to overcome the issue of fragmentation in Korea s ODA, such as strengthening the integrated role of the Committee for International Development Cooperation, and developing government-wide strategies regarding Green ODA and development cooperation in Africa. Inefficiency in the field arising from the excessive fragmentation of grants is an important issue that needs resolving as Korea takes on the role of an advanced donor country.For the sustainable development of Korea s ODA, it is essential to not only pursue quantitative expansion but also cultivate skilled individuals capable of efficiently implementing the increased ODA. To achieve this goal, KOICA is making various efforts to nurture talent in the development cooperation field, including establishing a system for dispatching interns, volunteer groups, and experts to international organizations, aimed at young individuals aspiring to enter the development cooperation field.Q What specific initiatives do you plan to prioritize during your term?At the United Nations General Assembly in September 2023, President Yoon Suk Yeol declared our government's commitment to actively contribute to overcoming the three divides caused by the global complex crisis: the development gap, the climate gap, and the digital gap. In this regard, KOICA will actively promote tailored development cooperation that leverages our strengths, focusing on green ODA for the mitigation and adaptation of the climate crisis in vulnerable countries; digital ODA that supports digital transformation in countries with insufficient digital distribution and utilization; and educational training and health infrastructure support for developing countries self-reliance.Moreover, we seek to actively implement the Ukraine Peace and Solidarity Initiative to participate in the international community's commitment to solidarity in protecting universal values. In addition to providing humanitarian support, considering the current conflict situation, KOICA is planning to prepare and promote various reconstruction projects in areas such as health, education, and infrastructure.Last but not least, KOICA will strengthen global partnerships with traditional and emerging donor countries and international organizations. We aim to continue strengthening cooperation with advanced donor organizations that share universal values, and create excellent examples of cooperation that enhance synergy effects. We are also determined to build mutually beneficial partnerships through cooperation with emerging donor countries. I believe that the development history of our country, which has evolved from one of the least developed countries to an emerging donor country and now to one of the world's top 10 economies, can play a crucial role in establishing a new global development cooperation partnership.Q Please share with us the importance of partnerships in the field of development cooperation.Although we are entering the concluding phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the international community still faces uncertainty. Unprecedented global crises, including the war between Russia and Ukraine, the subsequent surge in raw materials and energy prices, the outbreak of large-scale natural disasters due to climate change, and the increase in refugees and migrants due to conflicts and disasters, are casting a shadow over prospects for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).We are thus living in an era of complex global crises, of intertwined and multilayered crises. Complex crises are characterized by their occurrence in both developed and developing countries, and thus unable to be resolved through the efforts of one country alone. Therefore, solidarity and cooperation to solve our common problems are becoming increasingly important.To respond to the global crisis and contribute to achieving the SDGs, KOICA is pursuing development cooperation projects in partnership with various actors, including advanced and emerging donor agencies, international organizations, companies, and civil society. This cooperation mobilizes additional financial resources for international development cooperation, including foreign and private resources and domestic ODA resources. It also contributes to improving project quality.For example, KOICA is implementing a project for universal health coverage and global health security in Ghana through a partnership among the donor agencies of Korea, the United States, and Japan. KOICA supports the project with approximately $22 million (KRW 16.4 billion); through cooperation, the total project scale has expanded to $160 million (approximately KRW 200.6 billion), benefiting more than 5.81 million people across Ghana. As seen in this example, partnership is the key to development cooperation, enabling the resolution of problems that couldn't be addressed alone.Q Due to large-scale natural disasters and conflicts, cooperation in emergency relief and humanitarian support is also growing increasingly important. What partnerships is KOICA pursuing in this regard?KOICA has contributed through Korea's disaster response capabilities in various disaster sites by dispatching the Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) to help victims of the T rkiye earthquake in February and the Canadian forest fire in July. In the future, as natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes due to the climate crisis occur more frequently, requests for KDRT dispatch from the international community are expected to increase.Dispatching an emergency relief team requires urgent mobilization from various divisions, including medical staff, rescue teams, and transportation. To this end, collaboration based on partnerships with various ministries such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Welfare, National Fire Agency, and Ministry of National Defense is essential. As the KDRT Secretariat, KOICA strives to support logistics and administration related to dispatching relief teams, strengthen disaster response capabilities, and maintain ongoing partnerships with advanced relief teams through participation in international conferences and education and training. In particular, KOICA is seeking ways to cooperate with the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) Japan Disaster Relief (JDR).KOICA is also carrying out humanitarian aid public-private cooperation projects in collaboration with civil society organizations within the larger iframework of humanitarian assistance. Depending on the type of disaster, KOICA promotes various projects divided into areas such as sexual violence in conflict, disaster risk reduction, water and sanitation, protection, and nutrition for refugees/internally displaced persons (IDPs). Recently, we have successfully carried out a project to support the establishment of temporary settlements for victims in cooperation with three NGOs after the earthquake in T rkiye.Q How is KOICA's partnership with civil society progressing?KOICA is enhancing the effectiveness of development cooperation projects by leveraging the expert capabilities and experience of partner organizations including non-profit civil society organizations, universities, and social economy organizations. Partnership with civil society is facilitated by KOICA and civil society jointly sharing financial resources through a matching fund, which is established via bidding in six sectors: higher education, education, health, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, multi-sector, and social and solidarity economy. As of 2023, the number of projects by sector is 37 in health, 27 in multi-sector, 23 in education, 17 in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, 8 in higher education, and 7 in social and solidarity economy.Bidding is divided into three partnership categories based on the size of partner organizations, institutional expertise, and project implementation capabilities: ▲ Entry Type (for new institutions and projects), ▲ Growth Type (which support local vulnerable groups and people's livelihoods), and ▲ Strategic Type (large-scale projects, contribution to government policy). Such categorization aims to enhance project effectiveness by promoting cooperative projects that align with the development stages and demands of each NGO. KOICA plans to continue seeking project improvements in the future to enhance project outcomes while contributing to fostering a healthy NGO ecosystem in Korea.Q It seems that KOICA is also cooperating actively with corporations.Collaboration with private companies is of utmost importance. This is because companies are actors that mobilize development resources for investment in developing countries. Simultaneously, they possess the ability to address various development challenges through their expertise and innovative technologies. In particular, as the demand for development increases rapidly amid the complex global crisis, and as development tasks become more intricate, the importance of collaboration with private companies is growing day by day.KOICA collaborates with various corporate partners to address development challenges in developing countries and establish sustainable project models through three programs: Creative Technology Solution (CTS), which supports the innovative technologies of startups and social ventures; Inclusive Business Solution (IBS), which supports companies' inclusive business activities in developing countries; and Innovative Partnership Solution (IPS), which seeks to strategically cooperate with overseas private partners.KOICA has recently introduced the 'KOICA Platform ESG Initiative' as a sub-project model for its IBS program. This initiative explores the correlation between corporate ESG management and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries, responding to the escalating interest in environment, society, and governance (ESG). KOICA has signed MOUs with six companies to identify and promote projects collaboratively.Q What are the implications of partnerships with other donor agencies?As Korea s representative development cooperation agency, and now to leap forward as a leading global development cooperation organization, it is pivotal to form partnerships with overseas donor agencies that have accumulated lengthy development cooperation experiences, thereby strengthening our capacities and establishing networks.Especially, in light of the recently evolving international environment, partnerships with advanced donor countries are essential. Global development challenges, including climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise in conflicts and refugees, have become more complex and intensified than in the past, demanding an integrated response. According to the 'Human Development Report 2021-2022' published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the crises we face have accelerated and intensified, leading to complex polarization in multiple fields, including politics, the economy, society, and the environment. As these development problems cannot be resolved through the efforts of any one single country, it is crucial to foster strong global solidarity and cooperation among development stakeholders in the international community, including developed countries, emerging donor countries, developing nations, international organizations, civil society, and corporations.Since joining the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a group of advanced donor countries, in 2010, Korea has been expanding its internal and external influence. As founding members, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany possess more than 60 years of experience and know-how in promoting development cooperation, and these advanced donors strategically implement ODA based on their accumulated experience, leading global and regional issues. This partnership is crucial as it allows us to learn from the experience of advanced donor countries and apply it to our unique circumstances. In addition, by expanding partnerships with countries that share universal values, Korea can contribute to the promotion of principles such as freedom, peace, prosperity, and the rule of law.Q How can KOICA contribute in its partnerships with other donor agencies? What are KOICA s unique strengths?According to partner countries that are transitioning from developing to developed countries, Korea is a unique model of reference. Korea thus serves as a model for developing countries, having achieved political development and economic growth in recent decades.While the path of modernization and industrialization may differ from country to country, developing countries can, at the very least, analyze their reality and choose to apply relevant aspects of Korea's development experience. In particular, Korea being a global leader in the digital sector, the foundation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we can collaborate with major members of the international community to formulate creative and appropriate approaches for the development of developing countries.Unlike in the past, today's global problems do not only affect specific countries. Given the divergent interests of each country in responding to the global crisis, the prospects for achieving the SDGs through ODA, the traditional means of support, are bleak. Many stakeholders in development cooperation recognize that addressing this situation requires the international community to collaborate in responding to global problems. Meanwhile, Korea, an advanced country with exemplary economic development and dynamism, is widely recognized by many countries as a trustworthy development cooperation partner.As Korea's representative ODA agency, KOICA can play a unique bridging role by sharing experiences with developing countries and contributing to narrowing the differences between developed and developing countries. There is substantial demand for KOICA s best practices, knowledge, and ODA project information on occasions of international conferences. International organizations also expect KOICA to play an important role in triangular cooperation, a novel approach to addressing global problems.Q What are some goals that you seek to achieve during your term as President of KOICA?As outlined in KOICA's mid to long-term management goals, I aim to establish the foundation for KOICA to emerge as a leading global development cooperation organization. While contributing to Korea s foreign policy goal of Global Pivotal State, KOICA will actively join the discourse for a new development cooperation system established jointly by traditional and emerging donors.To this end, I have outlined the tasks we need to accomplish. First, KOICA is improving its response capabilities to deal with constant crises facing humanity, transcending borders and regions. As boundaries between existing donors and recipients become blurry, it is also crucial to diversify cooperation with partners across various fields. KOICA also seeks to expand jobs in development cooperation to create an environment where skilled professionals can join the development cooperation ecosystem, while aiming to enhance efficiency and productivity within the agency through management innovation.Q Could you please share any memorable episodes related to KOICA during your tenure as ambassador?As the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka, KOICA was the most popular Korean organization among locals. It was truly impressive to witness KOICA providing practical assistance to the local community in diverse fields such as forensic investigation, waste disposal, and vocational training. The activities of the KOICA Country Office staff, and other various experts and volunteer groups dispatched from Korea left a positive impression on the local people, and I received greetings of gratitude and welcome on behalf of Korea wherever I visited. It was a period during which I could genuinely feel firsthand the significant contribution of KOICA to developing countries and to elevating Korea s stature.
A pivotal moment for partnership
Michele SumilasAtA Michele Sumilas of USAIDThe world today faces a cascade of challenges that is testing all countries and communities like never before. In the last few years, we have been battered by the economic, social, and health consequences of the pandemic and shattered by rising poverty and deepening inequalities. We have been devastated by food insecurity, high energy prices, and climate shocks. And they are confronting us at a time amid an erosion of international rules and norms amid questions on whether democratic institutions can address the most pressing issues of our generation and deliver for communities around the world.Partnership between USAID and KOICAThe United States remains committed to working with our partners to confront today s shared challenges and advance achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. For the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), this means our collaboration with partner countries like the Republic of Korea is more critical than ever. In September 2022, I joined Director General Won Doyeon in Seoul to sign a three-year development cooperation memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Republic of Korea s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Through this MOU, the United States and the Republic of Korea strive to identify the best ways to capitalize on each other s strengths, solidifying our global development and humanitarian assistance partnership to address the world s most challenging problems. This broad agreement was complemented by a multi-year work plan for USAID and KOICA, which includes more than 20 proposed activities for collaboration.But of course, this partnership is not new. Our countries have a long history of friendship. In 1980, after 30 years of development assistance from the United States and others, the Republic of Korea showed the world what it means to invest in people, establish a functioning democratic system, and create exponential economic growth. Today, Korea stands on the global stage as a major donor partner that invests billions of dollars a year in humanitarian and development work globally. This history makes the Republic of Korea an especially strong partner because it leverages both its insights as a former aid recipient as well as its current global standing as a leading democracy and top ten economy.The evolution of USAID's relationship with the Republic of Korea serves as a testament to the power of international collaboration in the pursuit of development goals. Today, our nations work together on a wide range of issues combating climate change in the Pacific Islands, enhancing cybersecurity in Southeast Asia, improving water management across the Mekong River Basin, and strengthening access to energy through Power Africa. And all over the world, we partner to promote the rights of women and girls, elevate the voices of local leaders in the countries where we work, collaborate on humanitarian assistance, and more.In one of our most critical partnerships, the Republic of Korea was the first country to join USAID to support Ukrainian farmers and their role in maintaining global food security through USAID s Agriculture Resilience Initiative-Ukraine (AGRI-Ukraine). Our nations share a commitment not only to fight food insecurity, but also to help Ukraine emerge from Russia s war as a strong, sovereign, democratic, and prosperous society that is free to choose its own future.Historic trilateral cooperationAt the end of October 2023, I met again with Director General Won, this time alongside Director General Kazuya Endo of Japan s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Honolulu, Hawai i, for the first U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea Trilateral Development and Humanitarian Assistance Policy Dialogue. Not only has the strength of our partnership with the Republic of Korea driven our shared efforts to new heights, it has also galvanized broader cooperation with Japan.Signaling a new chapter in our development partnership, this trilateral dialogue, announced at President Biden s Trilateral Leaders Summit in August 2023, advanced concrete discussions to coordinate assistance to countries around the world.One example of this budding trilateral cooperation is reflected through the historic trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation we signed in July to support efforts to increase access to primary health care in Ghana. Through this partnership, USAID, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and the Ghanaian Ministry of Health are better positioned to leverage competencies, expertise, and resources to strengthen Ghana s primary health care system.At the signing event, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Virginia Palmer said: The pandemic showed us the power of strategic partnership with our allies to build a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous world. We are proud to join Japan and the Republic of Korea in this partnership to achieve Universal [Health] Coverage in Ghana. Through partnerships like these, we can take on the challenges of the moment and help communities build the prosperity and resilience to meet, head on, the global challenges we will face in the future. We find ourselves at a pivotal moment to build on the momentum of the Trilateral Development Dialogue to drive better development outcomes for all communities in the world. I am reminded that in the lobby of KOICA headquarters in Seoul, there is a decades-old bag of flour on display one that bears the words From the American People. What a powerful reminder of the difference that development assistance and collaboration can make as countries chart new courses for themselves.
Sustainable agricultural production in three Central American countries achieved through triangular cooperation
A resident in a dry corridor area harvesting lettuceThe 'Dry Corridor (Corredor Seco),' stretching approximately 1,000 km along the Pacific coast of Central America, is a highly arid region with an average annual rainfall of less than 500 mm. As per the 2021 announcement from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 7.5% of the Dry Corridor consists of areas severely affected by drought, with drought-high risk areas encompassing 50.5% of the total.The issue lies in the fact that this region, prone to frequent droughts, is especially susceptible to the impacts of climate change. The Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, located in the dry corridor zone, heavily depend on agriculture. They are grappling with food shortages and poverty as crops deteriorate due to extreme and abnormal climates. To make matters worse, El Ni o, which causes water temperatures to rise near the equator, occurred this year, deepening the worries of local residents.In response, KOICA is collaborating with Costa Rica to implement a capacity-building project to address climate change and enhance agricultural productivity in three Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.Farmers abandon homes due to climate changeApproximately 10 million people inhabit the dry corridor zone, with the majority engaged in agriculture. Family farms in Central America primarily cultivate food crops like corn, red beans, and fruits and vegetables, intending to achieve self-sufficiency. However, due to the ecological characteristics of the region, horticultural crops like fruits and vegetables are primarily cultivated in the highlands. Consequently, the lowlands along the dry corridor yield poor crops.In particular, droughts in the lowlands of the dry corridor in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras sometimes extend for more than four months. Governments in each country are distributing quality seeds resistant to dry climates to enhance the agricultural productivity of horticultural crops. However, technological development is deficient, specifically for horticultural crops. As a result, family farms have encountered economic hardships in recent years due to the escalating impacts of climate change. Statistics reveal that 80% of local small-scale farmers are grappling with poverty.Nutrition deficiency is also a significant problem. According to the 2019 report on the state of the world's children by UNICEF, the rate of chronically malnourished children under five years of age was 51% in Guatemala. This represents the highest rate among the 18 Latin American countries in the survey. Honduras ranked 3rd with a rate of 28%, while El Salvador 9th with 21%. The proportion of chronically malnourished children in all three countries surpassed the regional average of 17%. Chronic nutritional deficiencies stem from a lack of essential micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Due to tight budgets, accessing quality food is challenging for local residents. Consequently, farmers in these Central American countries are forced to leave their homes, grappling with both livelihood difficulties and nutritional deficiencies.Establishing sustainable agricultural environment through partnerships Training completion ceremony hosted by Costa Rica for three Central American countriesIt is essential to develop and distribute fundamental facility horticultural technology to cultivate horticultural crops capable of thriving in abnormal climates. In response, KOICA initiated plans to develop and demonstrate facility horticulture technology suitable for low-lying areas along the dry corridor, intending to subsequently distribute this technology to local farmers. KOICA forged a partnership with the Costa Rican government to facilitate this endeavor.Costa Rica joined the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in May 2021 and has efficiently resolved regional problems through triangular cooperation with other Central American countries. Costa Rica, classified as an emerging donor country in Latin America, shares a similar natural environment and socioeconomic structure with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Notably, Costa Rica has previously succeeded in institutional horticulture within the dry corridor area.Costa Rica's National Institute of Innovation and Transfer in Agricultural Technology (INTA) and the Foundation for the Promotion of Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer (FITTACORI) are the organizations that will carry out this project. Under Costa Rica's Ministry of Agriculture, INTA is an organization that focuses on agricultural research and education for farmers and has technical, human, and financial capabilities. FITTACORI, which is in charge of project cost execution, has experience in project cost management and accounting reporting because it manages the Costa Rica government's international cooperation resources. KOICA assumes the responsibility for ▲ Costa Rica invitation training and local workshops for the three Central American countries ▲ construction of pilot farms and pilot farming lands ▲ dispatch of facility horticulture technology advisory groups, etc.Support for crop cultivation education, demonstration technology distribution, and electricity provisionThrough this project, KOICA and Costa Rica will provide three Central American countries with a capacity-building program that combines theory and practice in growing vegetables, a non-traditional agricultural crop. The program includes education on the production and consumption of six types of vegetables, including leafy greens with folic acid and iron and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A and C. The goal is to increase income and improve nutrition by diversifying the production of family farms in the dry corridor areas. In addition, facility horticulture that can produce all year round will be introduced. This is to continue farming even in the dry corridor lowlands where the dry season is prolonged.There are 2,100 beneficiaries of this project. Beneficiaries are divided into direct beneficiaries who receive capacity building and technology transfer support from INTA in Costa Rica, and indirect beneficiaries who receive training provided through direct beneficiaries. There are 450 direct beneficiaries, of whom 30% are women. Direct beneficiaries can participate in ▲invitational training for union leaders, ▲installation and operation of pilot farmlands at the union level, and ▲operation of local workshops. KOICA plans to actively provide support so the beneficiary associations created through this project can freely form networking and participate in the business plan development process.1,650 indirect beneficiaries gain knowledge and experience in facility horticulture in the dry corridor zone through the educated direct beneficiaries. They also collaboratively operate and manage pilot facilities.Aiming for both efficiency and effectivenessFirst of all, this project will help Central and South American countries accelerate their achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As of 2021, the average SDGs index in Latin America was 68.6 points. However, the scores of three countries, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, were 59.9 points, 67.9 points, and 62.8 points, respectively, below the average. As a result, the project is expected to contribute to the second index of SDGs, "ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, as well as strengthening sustainable agriculture," and the 13th index, "implementing urgent actions to prevent climate change and its effects."This project is even more meaningful because it is a project that combines supply and demand from the main axis and recipient countries in response to the need to strengthen facility horticultural technology capabilities in the dry corridor area. It is anticipated that there will be smooth communication between agricultural officials and researchers dispatched from INTA, FITTACORI, etc., and farmer organizations in the beneficiary countries.Given the characteristics of the project's target area, which is hot and dry, the project is predicted to achieve both efficiency and effectiveness by emphasizing facilities that enhance insect prevention and shading efficiency and by making good use of materials readily available in the region.
Enhancing medical care for children in Uzbekistan
National Children's Hospital in Tashkent, UzbekistanIn Tashkent, Uzbekistan, there is a National Children s Hospital equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Despite having been in operation for only three years, it is recognized as the highest-level children's hospital in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The institution is renowned for its cardiology department, being the first in Uzbekistan to successfully perform surgery for rare diseases in newborns, and conducting 1,000 heart surgeries a year.The National Children's Hospital was constructed in 2020 with support in the form of grant and concessional loan ODA from the Korean government. KOICA, the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), and the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH) collaborated to assist in equipping the hospital with facilities and systems. Even during the pandemic, the hospital received various forms of support and played a crucial role in responding to infectious diseases. Since its official inauguration this year, there has been an increase in child patients visiting the hospital.Team Korea's medical support to Uzbekistan Transferring knowledge: Korean medical staff dispatched to UzbekistanData shows that, as of 2020, the population of Uzbekistan under the age of 14 is 7.088 million, constituting 23% of the total population (Source: CIA). Nevertheless, the mortality rate for children under five years old is alarmingly high at 24.1%. Until the 2010s, Uzbek hospitals faced challenges in offering adequate treatment to children requiring advanced care due to outdated medical equipment and technology. In response, the Uzbek government decided to construct an international-level, advanced children's hospital (level 4) and sought support from the Korean government.To bolster medical facilities and technology through diverse means, the government endorsed a comprehensive support approach, incorporating both grant and concessional loan ODA with participation from various affiliated organizations. KOICA under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EDCF of the Export-Import Bank of Korea under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and KOFIH under the Ministry of Health and Welfare collaborated to form a development cooperation package. KOICA contributed by supporting education and training to enhance the capabilities of medical personnel. EDCF signed a loan contract valued at $102.84 million (approximately KRW 138.6 billion) to construct an internationally standardized children's hospital with 275 beds. KOFIH decided to offer consultancy on establishing a hospital operation and management system, as well as overall hospital operations. This approach facilitated the development of an efficient project plan, clearly delineating roles and tasks for each organization to prevent overlapping support.The hospital was officially inaugurated on October 19, 2020, generating significant interest, even within Uzbekistan. In May 2020, President Mirziyoyev personally visited the construction site of the children's hospital. The opening ceremony garnered substantial attention from major local media outlets, including Uzbek state broadcaster O'zbekistan24.The Uzbek government granted the National Children's Hospital a leading role in overseeing 13 regional children's hospitals nationwide. Following a Presidential Order and Cabinet Decree, regional children's hospitals were to be affiliated with the National Children's Hospital. Furthermore, to enhance the quality of local medical care, the Ministry of Health has reinforced exchanges, including the collaboration of medical staff from local hospitals with the National Children's Hospital at least three times a month.Developing capabilities at state-of-the-art education and training centerMedical staff invited to Korea for trainingThrough this project, KOICA executed the following initiatives: ▲building an education and training center equipped with state-of-the-art medical simulation equipment ▲establishing a master plan to strengthen pediatric clinical capabilities ▲inviting medical staff to Korea for training ▲dispatching Korean pediatric specialists locally for training. The total amount of support for the project amounts to $7 million (approximately 9.4 billion won). Support continued steadily even during the COVID-19 period.The education and training center, inaugurated in December 2020, primarily operated through online education due to the spread of COVID-19. During this period, the number of critically ill children was rapidly increasing, but treatment was difficult due to the lack of capabilities of local medical staff. Enhancing medical staff's capabilities at children's hospitals emerged as an urgent need. After close consultation with Seoul National University Hospital, one of the project executing agencies, KOICA dispatched Korean medical staff to the site for training three times in 2021. Professional medical staff from various fields were dispatched, including pediatric emergency surgery, pediatric cardiology, and pediatric thoracic surgery, including Professor Kim Hyun-young in pediatric surgery. Utilizing the state-of-the-art medical simulation equipment at the education and training center, advanced clinical techniques were taught, and collaborative surgeries were performed on low-income, severely ill child patients. Several domestic and foreign organizations provided financial support, including the local NGO Zamin Foundation and the JW LEE Center for Global Medicine at Seoul National University College of Medicine. The education and training center was officially transferred to the National Children's Hospital in December 2021. Since then, the center has also served as a venue for practical training for medical students at Uzbek medical schools, and the number of trainees has increased approximately threefold. Uzbek medical staff visit Seoul National University Children's HospitalUzbek medical staff participating in the health symposium at Seoul National University Children's HospitalA mobile-based medical personnel capacity-building project was also initiated. A remote medical environment was established by integrating the medical information system (HIS) developed through the EDCF project. One hundred and thirty tablet PCs and wristbands were provided to medical staff. A capacity-building project to respond to infectious diseases for medical staff at local children's hospitals was also implemented. For a total of 13 hospitals under the National Children's Hospital, projects such as ▲establishing a mobile infection control team ▲promoting infection control training and consulting ▲delivering supplies to respond to infectious diseases were carried out. This project benefited 214 medical staff at local children's hospitals and 616 local patients.After the pandemic subsided, Uzbek medical staff visited Korea in person. From March to June last year, eight doctors and nurses received invitation training at Seoul National University Children's Hospital. Through special lectures and practical training over three months, they acquired knowledge and skills applicable to pediatric anesthesiology, pediatric neurosurgery, and pediatric intensive care units. On behalf of the trainees, Acrobek Alimob, head of the intensive care unit at the Uzbek National Children's Hospital, expressed gratitude, saying, I would like to convey my appreciation to all the educators who took the time to educate the trainees, even though they were busy with their work. He added, The invitational training at Seoul National University Hospital will greatly help the development of Uzbek medical care. Meanwhile, Kim Han-suk, Vice Director of Pediatrics at Seoul National University Children's Hospital, visited the Uzbek National Children's Hospital in person for four days and three nights immediately after the graduation ceremony to confirm future business plans and discuss ways to continue cooperation between the two institutions.First treatment for newborn's rare disease in UzbekistanAbout 5,000 people were hospitalized, and 60,000 people visited the National Children's Hospital in 2021 alone. The scale of hospital utilization is expected to increase gradually, and many challenging surgeries have been successfully completed. Surgery on rare and incurable patients, including cardiac surgery and neurosurgery, which had not been performed in Uzbekistan until now, was successfully conducted. In this regard, medical staff from a third country with extensive experience and medical staff from national and regional children's hospitals collaborated to perform joint surgery. A 15-year-old girl, who had been receiving treatment for epilepsy in Uzbekistan and Russia since she was two years old, underwent surgery by a nephrologist at Children's Hospital, along with medical staff from a third country, and her condition improved significantly. The patient's family expressed gratitude through letters to the Korean government, the Children's Hospital, and the President of Uzbekistan.The first case of recovery from a rare heart disease in a 20-day-old newborn was reported. Previously, in cases of rare diseases, only families with financial means could receive treatment at foreign hospitals. Patients from ordinary families often had to forgo treatment in the early stages due to the lack of access to surgery. Yet, the newborn who underwent surgery at the National Children's Hospital through support for this project was discharged healthy without complications. KOICA stated, "It is also a significant achievement that local medical staff gained confidence by accumulating clinical experience and knowledge in each field."Through this project, most of the building materials and medical equipment required for the hospital were supplied from Korea. Additionally, Korean engineers participated in consulting services and played a crucial role in transferring technology from Korean companies. KOICA said, In the long term, we hope to further cooperate through Korea s health and medical services and technology, and strengthen cooperation between Korea and Uzbekistan.
Treating 600,000 children through brain development program
Children with slow development is a term that encompasses children with developmental disabilities and children with developmental delays. An estimated one in six people worldwide experience slow development. Early intervention for children at the so-called 'borderline' rate of development can alleviate the challenges they might face throughout their lives. The challenge lies in the shortage of professional medical staff and the high treatment costs. This universal concern affects countries worldwide, from developed to developing nations. Furthermore, the number of children with slow development is increasing annually. The proportion of children recommended for in-depth evaluation due to suspected developmental disabilities or delays in the national infant health checkup rose from 1.68% in 2016 to 2.38% in 2020.Regarding cognitive development, the earlier the intervention, the higher the chances of recovery. However, in developing countries, the challenge lies in obtaining appropriate diagnosis and treatment due to low income, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of awareness regarding the importance of cognitive development.The digital healthcare startup DoBrain offers a mobile platform that enhances the potential for early screening and treatment of children with slow development. DoBrain's primary solution is the 'D-kit,' a cognitive development treatment program. This program delivers animations and fairy tales via smartphones and tablet PCs, stimulating the brain by incorporating questions into the content. In December 2022, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety designated it as an innovative medical device, with its effectiveness and safety duly verified.Launch of Cambodia s inaugural cognitive development education programDoBrain is a startup founded in 2017 by CEO Choi Ye-jin while she was a student at Seoul National University's business school. While working as an educational volunteer, CEO Choi learned about the prevalence of slow development among children in low-income families. Motivated by this insight, she earned a cognitive therapist's license and began developing digital teaching materials, eventually establishing her own business. In 2018, DoBrain entered Cambodia through KOICA's Creative Technology Solution (CTS). CTS is a global entry program that utilizes innovative technologies in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to address challenges in developing countries that were difficult to solve using traditional methods. DoBrain pioneered the launch of the first cognitive development application in Cambodia. A DoBrain official noted, "The approach of CTS and DoBrain toward social problems and solutions is quite similar," emphasizing, "The innovative approach of CTS in addressing issues in developing countries using creative ideas and technologies aligns well with DoBrain's ideology."DoBrain was selected as CTS Seed 1 and operated Cambodia's first cognitive learning therapy program in five schools, including local special schools and pediatric psychiatry professors. This was something that even the Cambodia National Children's Hospital, the best pediatric medical institution in Cambodia, could not do.That year, Cambodia's first Khmer cognitive development education application was released. It was a program that localized 104 episodes of animation and 52 episodes of games. The number of new users in Cambodia reached 175,711. Two clinical studies were conducted to verify the effectiveness of the software, targeting a total of 456 students at three schools, including 'Hands of Hope Cambodia (HHC),' Cambodia's only special school for intellectual disabilities. Choi Ye-jin, CEO of DoBrain, explained, "Nothing can change society as quickly as changing the lives of children," and added, "I want to create a program where people can receive cognitive education with just a cell phone."To facilitate universal access to treatment using digital technologyIndian children using DoBrain s programsThis year, DoBrain initiated providing cognitive development education to approximately 400 students in 9 schools in Bengaluru, India, as it had been selected as CTS Seed 2. According to India's National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), 1.8% of the Indian population has a disability, with the prevalence of intellectual disability ranging from 1.0% to 3.2%. Notably, the number of children with developmental delays has quadrupled in the past five years.The earlier cognitive rehabilitation is initiated, the more effective it becomes. However, India lacks proper infrastructure for the diagnosis and treatment of children with intellectual disabilities and developmental delays. In particular, most cognitive education and development programs targeting preschool children are held as offline sessions that require centers or specialized personnel. Online programs are designed for learning purposes such as math or English.A DoBrain staff member mentioned, "It is crucial to provide access to an appropriate program that transcends distance, physical, and economic barriers, especially when education is highly effective for children under six." He added, "Utilizing a digital platform accessible to everyone allows us to address the polarization of screening and intervention among children with developmental delays."It is also crucial to secure local partners in India. DoBrain, in collaboration with Rogpa, a local child protection NGO, implemented the 'Grow Together' project, wherein the DoBrain program is gifted to one Indian child for every user. Rogpa, which oversees education at 40 to 50 childcare facilities in India, established a collaborative model with DoBrain while searching for digital teaching materials required for remote classes amid the coronavirus pandemic.In July 2023, DoBrain was chosen for the Ministry of Health and Welfare's 'Medical Institution-based Digital Healthcare Demonstration and Introduction' project. Over three years, the company plans to conduct multi-center clinical demonstrations with 15 domestic hospitals, including Korea University's Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation, aiming to provide integrated management of pediatric developmental diseases.Recently, DoBrain announced that it has completed attracting Series B investment (investment at the stage where technology is commercialized in earnest) worth 21 billion won. Domestic venture capital (VC) Intervest led the investment with 15 billion won, and a domestic insurance company, along with the existing investment company KB Investment, also participated in this funding round. Previously, in 2020, DoBrain raised 6.5 billion won by attracting Series A investment (seed money investment, which represents the first round of funding.) DoBrain plans to utilize this investment to develop services addressing challenges for children and families with diverse developmental needs. A staff member said, "DoBrain aims to create a world where children can more easily receive the help they need for development."
Latest issues at a glance KOICA NEWS
In December, a month for reviewing and concluding the year, KOICA reflected on the past five months spent joyfully hosting the 'Finale Show' with the 5th WeKO since last July. KOICA was acknowledged for its active efforts in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) management activities this year and achieved positive results. To further enhance its capabilities in 2024, KOICA welcomed two new executive directors as new members of its family. KOICA anticipates excellent performances from both!KOICA's activities to support developing countries persisted until the end of the year. KOICA opened the first Agricultural Machinery Design and Prototyping Center in the Philippines and initiated an intriguing project with Nigerian banks to address the unemployment issue among Nigerian youth.NEWS 1. Kim Dong-ho and Sohn Jeong-mi, appointed as the new Vice Presidents of KOICAVice President Kim Dong-ho(on the left) and Sohn Jeong-miKOICA has established a four-member Vice President system. On December 11, KOICA appointed Kim Dong-ho, the head of the Directorate of Strategic Management, and Sohn Jeong-mi, Global Cooperation Officer of the Planning and Coordination Office at the Osong Advanced Medical Industry Promotion Foundation, as new Vice President. The term of office for KOICA Vice President selected through a public contest is two years.Vice President Kim Dong-ho graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature at Sungkyunkwan University and joined KOICA as a founding member in 1991. Since then, he has held key positions, including First Head of Regional Business Division, Acting Head of Management Strategy Division, Head of Business Strategy Planning, Head of Strategic Planning, and Head of Offices in Ethiopia, Ecuador, and Uzbekistan. Vice President Sohn Jeong-mi graduated from the Department of Social Studies Education at Ewha Womans University and acquired experience in international cooperation during her public service career, beginning as an officer in charge of the International Trade Department at the Chungcheongbuk-do Provincial Office in 2001, later advancing to the position of the head of the Foreign Investment Attraction Team at the Investment Attraction Department. In 2020, she assumed roles as an affiliated professor at the College of Liberal Arts and a professor at the Department of Global Trade at Cheongju University. As a result, KOICA now operates under a four-member Vice President system, led by President Chang Won-sam, who assumed office last July, including Vice President Kim Dong-ho and Sohn Jeong-mi, alongside existing Vice President Lee Yun-young and Hong Seok-hwa.NEWS 2. Building an Agricultural Machinery Design and Prototyping Center in the PhilippinesPanoramic view of the Agricultural Machinery Design and Prototyping Center completed in Nueva Ecija,Philippines, with support from KOICAOn December 7th (local time), KOICA held a completion ceremony for the Agricultural Machinery Design and Prototyping Center (AMDPC) in Nueva Ecija, northern Philippines. AMDPC, the Philippines' first agricultural machinery modernization center, encompasses a total floor area of 2,000㎡. It features a dedicated laboratory for agricultural machinery research and development and a separate space for agricultural machinery design and prototype production. Based on Korea's excellent agricultural technology, developing various new agricultural machinery such as rice transplanters, seeders, and measuring instruments is promoted, and the agricultural mechanization progress rate in the Philippines, which was low at 2.67% as of last year, is expected to improve.The completion ceremony of the AMDPC is a pivotal milestone within the 'Philippine Agricultural Machinery Modernization Center Construction and Capacity Strengthening Project,' which is scheduled for implementation by 2027. As part of this project, KOICA aims to modernize agriculture in the Philippines and enhance the competitiveness of the agricultural machinery manufacturing industry. This involves the supply and installation of related equipment and the strengthening of capabilities among experts in agricultural machinery research, development, and manufacturing.NEWS 3. The first ODA project was promoted with a Nigerian private bankA business agreement ceremony between KOICA and Providus Bank of Nigeria,aimed at strengthening the capabilities of the digital startup ecosystem and fostering blue-chip startups.KOICA is launching a project to support digital startups led by youths in collaboration with a local bank in Nigeria. This marks the inaugural instance of planning and securing financial resources for an ODA project with a Nigerian private partner.In response to the challenge of youth unemployment in Nigeria, where the rate stands at 33.7%, and to bolster the capacity of the digital startup ecosystem, KOICA, in collaboration with Providus Bank one of the five major commercial banks in Nigeria has initiated a project titled 'Supporting Innovative Growth of Youth and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises through the establishment of the Nigeria Startup Digital Innovation Academy.' As part of this project, slated for implementation until 2028, KOICA will establish a digital startup center in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. KOICA aims to nurture approximately 2,100 young digital startups by offering training in digital innovation and business models to youth-led ventures. KOICA also provides robust support for business incubation and overseas expansion to enhance investment and sales for outstanding startups. Providus Bank collaborates by establishing a startup fund totaling up to $170,000 over five years and making initial investments in startups nurtured by KOICA.NEWS 4. A spectacular Finale Show with the 5th WeKOA commemorative photo from the 5th WeKO performance-sharing event 'Finale Show'On December 1st, KOICA successfully hosted the Finale Show, a performance-sharing event for the 5th WeKO, at KOICA headquarters in Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do. WeKO is a global creator that communicates the meaning and value of KOICA's international development cooperation and ODA through various content. The 5th WeKO, selected last July, has been creating engaging content, including card news and short-form videos on ODA and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that contribute to addressing challenges in the international community, such as poverty and climate change, over the past five months, garnering global exposure and receiving a positive response worldwide.Starting with the release of the global music source 'ODA Song,' which conveys the message of 'The World Becoming One through ODA,' the 5th group of WeKO organized diverse events like the 'Dance Challenge' and 'World Singing Contest.' They also participated in spreading ODA knowledge by contributing their ideas to the restructuring of the virtual reality metaverse space 'KOICA World.' On this day, an awards ceremony was held to honor outstanding supporters, categorized into domestic (individual/team) and global (individual) segments. Lee Seung-jae (27), the winner of the best individual category in Korea for the 5th WeKO, expressed, "Through promoting ODA and SDGs over the past five months, I've learned about the significant efforts of the international community and KOICA to create a better world," adding that he intends to continue closely following KOICA's initiatives.NEWS 5. Winning the grand prize at 'The Korea ESG Management Innovation Awards' KOICA received the grand prize in the quasi-governmental organization category at the 2023 Korea ESG Management Innovation Awards.KOICA won the grand prize in the quasi-governmental organization category at the 2023 Korea ESG Management Innovation Awards. KOICA attended the awards ceremony at the Dasan Hall of the Korea Economic Daily in Jung-gu, Seoul, on December 15 and received the honor. The Korea ESG Management Innovation Awards is an event that acknowledges and honors companies and organizations for their innovative practice of future oriented and sustainable ESG management activities as well as social contribution, governance, and environmental management implemented by domestic and foreign governments and local governments. KOICA received the award based on outstanding evaluations for its initiatives related to employee safety and health, the diversity of employees, including the number of female employees and female managers, efforts to improve human rights, and the promotion of win-win cooperation with the local community in line with the shared growth strategy. Compared to other organizations, KOICA has also received favorable scores in areas such as the ratio of full-time employees, the ratio of female managers, and the shared growth evaluation grade over the past three years.
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