As a tourism-based country with beautiful natural resources, environmental conservation has always been one of the most important issues for Palau. In general, the efforts required for environmental conservation can be broadly divided into two categories. The first is to maintain and manage natural resources, and the second is to properly treat waste. From the viewpoint that the maintenance and management of natural resources is difficult without proper waste management, waste management is the biggest challenge for environmental conservation in Palau. In Palau, JICA has supported it through various schemes not only large-scale projects such as the Waste Management Improvement Project (2005 to 2008), the construction of a new landfill in the state of Aimeliik (2018-2020), but also grassroots projects such as “Promotion of Zero Waste Society Project” by ICETT (International Center for Environmental Technology Transfer), a Japanese NGO, dispatch of JICA volunteers in the field of environmental education to the Division of Solid Waste Management, Bureau of Public Works, and so on.

In order to protect the environment of the small island nation like Palau, it is of course significant to improve the infrastructure for waste management, but it should always come with the effort to reduce waste. To this end, it is of utmost importance to change the public’s awareness, but this cannot be done in a short period of time; only persistent efforts over the long term will lead to the outcome.

The dispatch of JICA volunteers in the field of environmental education to the Solid Waste Management under the Bureau of Public Works, MPII, began in 2013, and four volunteers have been working there to date. The fourth volunteer, Ms. Sonoda Tamaki, is currently supporting this sustained effort, which has been going on for nearly 10 years since its inception.

Sonoda says “National Landfill in Aimeliik opened for service on February 22, 2021.  Since then, big amount of waste has been brought into the landfill every day.  I’ve been in Palau about a year now and there is more waste at the landfill compared to a year ago.  It’s important to reduce waste so that this landfill can be used for more than 20 years.  I don’t want to see more and more landfills built in Palau.  BPW is engaged in a variety of initiatives to reduce waste.  We visit elementary schools and a child care center to provide Environmental Education.  We are working on a 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) campaign at each event.  Also, we go to Mongami, Aimeliik State and Ibobang, Ngatpang State every week for recycling collection to reduce the amount of waste.  I believe that these awareness activities and efforts can change people’s attitude to reduce waste.”

The program manager, Calvin Ikesiil says “One of the most important aspects of improving solid waste management is through public awareness and education programs to reduce reuse and recycle (the 3Rs) solid waste. JICA Volunteer, Ms. Sonoda, is working with our SWM Educator to sustain this effort of raising public awareness on how to reduce, reuse and recycle solid waste, thus minimize the amount of waste entering the landfill and therefore prolong the life of our national landfill. Having Ms. Sonoda/JICA Volunteer as part of our team also brings motivation among staffs as they learn from each other and create new ideas for 3R campaigns and improve solid waste management in Palau.”

Last year, JICA volunteer program in Palau commemorated 25 years of its history. With the acceptance of six new JICA volunteers in this month, the total number of dispatches reached 300. They 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 or Facebook, JICA Palau Office.

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