Social infrastructure is essential to our lives, but we may not often think about it on a daily basis. For many people, the importance is realized only when their daily life was hindered by loss of power outages, destruction of roads, landslide and other natural disasters. However, we must not forget that the social infrastructure services that we enjoy are supported by the great efforts of many stakeholders.
Electricity is one of the most important social infrastructures in which almost 100% of people receive the services. In Palau, JICA provided the Power Grid Project in 1993 prior to the independence of the country, followed by the Power Supply Project in 1996 and the Improvement of Power Supply Capacity in Urban Area Project in 2012, contributing to the strengthening of the power supply of the country. The total value of these projects is more than 500 billion Japanese yen (equivalent to 40 million US$). Many power generation facilities and equipment were provided through these projects. Contrary to the provision of the facilities and equipment, a more important issue is maintaining their steady operation and management, a value that is difficult to express in money. PPUC engineers and other related parties are making daily efforts to fulfill their roles behind the scene that we may not be aware.
To support the appropriate operation and management of the facility and equipment, JICA has dispatched volunteers to the Power Generation Division of PPUC since 2015. Mr. IMAI Kazuo was assigned to the division in February 2022 for a 2 year-term as the third volunteer. IMAI, who is an expert with rich working experiences not only in Japan but also in foreign countries such as Indonesia, Solomon Islands, is struggling to realize his key issue “how to make the operation sustainable”.
IMAI says, “The most important mind when we work in foreign countries is to understand the background of the issues that affects the country. When I work abroad as a Japanese, I sometimes come across things that make me feel ‘It is not right’. However, in many cases, there may be rational reasons why the country is in that state. As a JICA volunteer, I have to contribute to improvement of operation of the Power Generation Division by providing effective advice. As well, I have to be modest in Palau and try to understand the background of everything in my working place to make my cooperation sustainable. I believe that my cooperation as a JICA volunteer will be accepted by my colleagues when I have accomplished these. Since my office is Power Generation Division, we conduct regular maintenance activities focusing on engines and auxiliary equipment, aiming to supply quality electric power to the people of Palau. It may sound simple, but it’s actually a very time-consuming task with much patience. I would like to ask Palauan people to indulge the PPUC Power Generation Unit as all of our staffs in the division are making their best effort every day to keep your “common daily life”.
Mr.Tito Cabunagan, the director of the division says, ”The deployment of Mr. Imai as JICA volunteer helps a lot in motivating PPUC power plant personnel. Language is not a barrier as Mr Imai is able to get the empathy as well as commitment of all personnel in maintaining the good relationship among coworkers. The most important thing is the operation and maintenance of running units and keeping them in tip top condition to serve the people of the Republic of Palau. At this point I would like to give my sincere gratitude to JICA in particular as well as the government of Japan for their continuous support to PPUC by providing technical skills through the series of cooperation. We hope that this program of JICA will continue despite of the short duration of their technical volunteer.
This year, JICA volunteer program in Palau commemorates 25 years of its history. During the quarter century, more than 290 volunteers have worked and contributed not only to socio economic development of Palau, but also to mutual understanding between both countries through their grassroots activities. The cooperation has been unique and precious in Palau which enables sustainable development by providing human to human relationships between the two countries.
To learn more about this and other JICA Programs, contact the Ministry of State or JICA Palau Office, or visit https://www.jica.go.jp/english or Facebook, JICA Palau Office.