Regional seminar - Community resilience to Multi-dimensional Risks: Lessons learned from the Japanese approach in the Sahel Spécial

Timbuktu Institute - African Center for Peace Studies, in partnership with the Embassy of Japan in Senegal, is organizing a seminar on the issue of community resilience to multi-dimensional risks this Wednesday, October 11 in Dakar, with the participation of African and Japanese researchers and experts. Based on regional situations and expert analyses, the seminar will also provide an opportunity to revisit Japan's experience and cooperation in building community resilience in the Sahel.

Committed at continental level and alongside most African countries since independence, Japan is one of the international players that has been able to forge solid, long-term cooperation with the region's states. Through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other mechanisms, Japan has always been involved in crisis prevention and resolution, as well as humanitarian aid and technical assistance to governments. This commitment to Africa has never wavered, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reaffirmed in his opening speech at the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8). As part of the strengthening of Japan's contribution, he announced a substantial public and private financial plan for the next three years, as well as an investment in human capital aimed at training over 300,000 professionals. It is in this context that the Japanese contribution should be re-examined in terms of building resilience. Resilience is often defined as an entity's ability to withstand a shock, disaster or the consequences of insecurity, and to bounce back and move towards a more positive process of economic and social development.

Thus, with its historical experience in reconstruction processes, linked to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 or, more recently, following the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear incident, Japan can be a valuable support and model for Africa in the face of certain tragedies, first and foremost those linked to violent conflicts. Peacebuilding is thus one of the three fundamental components of Japan's cooperation policy with Africa.
More specifically, JICA's focus on resilience in terms of human security, combining the strengthening of governmental and community institutions with protection and empowerment processes, offers a real alternative to the all-out security approach. In West Africa, JICA has had a regional office in Dakar since 1980, covering six of the region's countries, where the Timbuktu Institute is involved in peace-building activities and strengthening the resilience of local communities.

Having taken part in numerous initiatives supported by Japan, such as the study tour to Hiroshima on the theme of peace education, since 2016 the Timbuktu Institute has been working throughout the sub-region on issues related to peace and security. As part of its five-year action plan 2020-25, the institute has placed the operationalization of knowledge, consulting and decision support as well as institutional support at the heart of its priorities by setting up a broad network of associate researchers covering more than 20 African countries with a diversification of working languages (international as well as local) to operate across the continent. A special program has been devoted to strategic monitoring, the organization of national and international meetings, and the production of publications and notes on current developments in coastal zones, with the shift in epicenters and the growing terrorist threat.

In addition, the Institute's approach has always been geared towards prevention and strengthening community resilience, based on numerous experiments in partnership with regional organizations such as the G5 Sahel and ECOWAS, as well as civil society organizations. This overlaps with many of the concerns of Japanese cooperation in the context of its support for regional organizations, states and various communities.

In addition to this shared interest in strengthening community resilience, the Timbuktu Institute has extensive experience in both producing empirical data and formalizing operational recommendations for various civil society players, representatives of administrative authorities, and religious and community leaders.

It was thus envisaged to initiate cooperation based on this seminar, which would enable us to deepen our reflection and carry out an in-depth, concerted analysis of the scope of Japanese cooperation actions and initiatives, for a better understanding of shared issues and challenges. This seminar-based cooperation between JICA and Timbuktu should ultimately lead to the development of innovative tools for strengthening community resilience in the face of the multiple threats facing Africa.
Timbuktu Institute - Octobre 2023