On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Ambassador KARASAWA Akira of the Embassy of Japan, and His Excellency President Whipps signed a grant contract for “The Project for Facilitating Hand-Wash Station to Schools in Babeldaob and Outlying States”, under Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Education and was witnessed by MOE officials and related personnel.

There have been no COVID-19 cases in Palau until today and the mass vaccination is going on quite smoothly, and it is expected that most of the people in Palau will be fully vaccinated by coming summer. However, it is important to continue the preventive measures from the virus, even though the vaccination would be a huge help for COVID-19 response.

One of the most effective ways to prevent COVID-19 and other contagious diseases is hand-washing. The problem is that the students in Palau have very limited access to hand-wash stations at their schools, even though they are encouraged to wash their hands these days. Hence, the Embassy of Japan has decided to provide hand-wash stations to the schools in Palau for the health of their students.

This signing ceremony took place for the second phase of Japan’s hand-wash station project. In the first phase of the project, the Embassy of Japan announced that the hand-wash stations would be provided to the schools in Koror and Airai States. And now, the second phase is targeting the schools in Babeldaob and outlying states where the access of the medical facilities is limited and the school can be a cause of mass outbreak. The 26 hand-wash stations will be installed at 14 schools (3 head starts, 10 public elementary schools, 1 private high school) in 10 states and the cost is $135,580.00.  This means the total cost of Japan’s hand-wash station project is $405,565.00 and 76 brand-new hand wash stations will be installed in total through the project.

At the ceremony, Ambassador Karasawa mentioned that the construction of the hand wash stations provided through the phase one would start in March, and conveyed his hope that the phase two construction would start in a few months from now. He also delivered his hope that this project would help students in Palau to maintain good personal hygiene and establish hand-wash habit to prevent not only Covid-19 but other contagious diseases. President Whipps conveyed his appreciation to the Government of Japan for many GGP assistances granted for education over many years. Furthermore, he stated that the Government of Palau is looking forward to working with the Government of Japan to strengthen our partnership.

The Government of Japan launched GGP in 1999, for the purpose of responding to various development needs engaged in grassroots activities in Palau. As of February 25, 2021, the Embassy has signed 84 grant contracts with schools and hospitals as well as state governments and non-profit organizations. Education, health care and environment are the primary fields prioritized by Japan and its GGP. For further information about GGP, please contact 488-6455 or visit the Embassy of Japan website at http://www.palau.emb-japan.go.jp/itprtop_en/index.html .

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