A year and a half since the Kumamoto earthquakes—Challenges of agriculture and tourism in Kumamoto

Over a year and a half have passed since the Kumamoto earthquakes. Walking in the city center of Kumamoto, you may no longer find any scars of the earthquakes, but in the suburbs, local industries are still suffering from large impacts of the disaster.


Aso City had been attracting many tourists before the earthquakes, mainly students visiting on school trips, however, after the quakes bulk cancellation of trips followed one after another. The earthquakes cut off rail and highway connections between Kumamoto and Aso Cities. Tourists visiting Aso via the only remaining mountain road are limited, and both tourism and agriculture with rice paddies, which had been providing local food and tourist attractions, remain unrecoverable.

After the earthquakes, JEN formed a partnership with Fumidas, a general incorporated association that has been fostering young persons for many years in Kumamoto, and through the joint project “ASUKUMA” we have assisted the entrepreneurship of young people who are contributing to the revitalization of the community. The participants have started up various initiatives, such as managing a community café and selling agricultural processed foods.


The ASUKUMA project came to an end over a half year ago in March 2017. Now, “ASUKUMA II” is planned to start in order to support people who are struggling in the tourist spots where the impacts of the earthquakes are still evident. Unlike the previous ASUKUMA project that targeted individual participants from various parts of Kumamoto prefecture, ASUKUMA II will focus on Aso City and Minami Oguni Town and provide local people with help on problem-solving as groups. We would appreciate your continuous support for ASUKUMA II to create the future of Kumamoto through such initiatives as planning and pilot projects.

November 20, 2017 in Kumamoto |


Tour of Gilgit-Baltistan

In Pakistan, little by little people are returning to their homes following
the mop-up campaign against the armed groups. Look at the details here.

Today I will take you for a small tour of northern areas of Pakistan, currently known as Gilgit-Baltistan.

One day, sitting with friends, bored from our highest level, hectic busy daily work routine, we decided to escape from our offices and planned a holiday trip. As we wanted to go to any peaceful area out of city life, finally after some discussion, we decided to go to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Our first destination was Hunza passing through Kaghan, Naran, Babusar top, Chillas and Gilgit. We took our route through the famous Karakoram Highway. This highway is often referred as eighth wonder of the world as being one of the highest paved roads in the world passing through Karakoram mountain range, connecting Pakistan with China. On the route, we sighted Nanga Parbat mountain (9th highest of the world), Rakaposhi (27th highest of the world). View of Rakaposhi peak at sunset was miraculous (not describable and you cannot capture what it looks like unless you go there yourself).

[Karakoram highway]

[Rakaposhi at sunset]

Hunza has enriched history having Altit Fort (founded in the 11th century) and Baltit fort (founded in the 8th century) along the silk route. Long time ago, Gilgit-Baltistan was divided into many small states. Among them, Hunza Kingdom was most wealthy and their rulers were called Mirs. Then we travelled towards Pak-China border and sighted the Attabad Lake formed due to massive landslide back in 2010 which blocked the flow of Hunza River, the Passu cones and the Khunjerab Pass (Pak-China Border).

The peace that we found in Hunza Valley overnight was astonishing. No noise, even we could hear sound of a river from miles away while lying on our bed at night. This is all because of no factories, no machines, no such traffic like we have in cities. Even after 15 hours of drive from Rawalpindi to Hunza, we were not feeling tired  because of such a calm atmosphere that we were enjoying there.         

BY: Samar Butt
      National Finance & Accounts Officer

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November 16, 2017 in Pakistan |

The strong bond between local people and Afghan refugees in Pakistan

Chakdara (my village) is the gateway to District Lower Dir. It lies on the north of Malakand on the north bank of the Swat River. District Lower Dir, especially Chakdara, is home to thousands of Afghan refugees when they fled war during the late 1970s. Most of the Afghan refugees were born here but are still citizen of Afghanistan. They are under the protection of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A Refugee camp has been in Chakdara since Afghans were displaced from their home land. I have lots of Afghan refugee friends from my school days. We studied and grew up together. We have participated in each other’s ceremonies for the last 40 years. The culture of our Afghan friends is almost the same as ours. Majority of the Afghan refugees are Pashtu speakers which is also the native language in my hometown. The language, clothing, food, art, music and ceremonies are same. We also have the common religion and beliefs. Even the physical appearances are the same so no one can differentiate between the afghan refugees and the local people. Lots of local males are married to Afghan women and vice versa. In short, Afghan refugees and Pashtuns in Pakistan have a strong bond and connection due to their common roots and culture.

[Local people buying vegetables from shops owned by Afghan refugees]

As Afghan refugees don’t have many job opportunities here, most of them prefer to do their own business. They are doing every kind of business like shop keeping, hairdressers,  property dealers, and gem dealers. But the majority of the refugees are doing the business of selling vegetables, fruits and cloths. The shops of fruits and vegetables are almost completely owned by Afghan refugees. Besides that, a large number of Afghan refugees have invested hugely in the business of clothes. Apart from that large number of Afghan refugees are daily labourers.

[ Fruit business is one of the preferred businesses amongst Afghan refugees]

The Afghan refugees in the area mix up with local people and both have been living together in peace for the last 40 years. Currently, a large number of Afghan refugees are returning to their homeland. Hopefully, they bring back the pleasant memories of their long stay in Pakistan.
Some more photos are given below:

[A view of an Afghan refugee in his shop]

[A view of vegetable shops owned by Afghan refugees]

Hanief Khan
Senior Programme Assistant

Pakistan is not a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees/1967 Protocol and has also not enacted any national legislation for the protection of refugees nor established procedures to determine the refugee status of persons who are seeking international protection within its territory (http://unhcrpk.org/about/asylum-system-in-pakistan/). Therefore, refugees’ life depicted in this article may differ from that in other countries.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.

November 16, 2017 in Afghanistan |


Water saving agriculture 4

In October, farmers start cultivation in Sri Lanka.
However, paddy which makes highest income is not able to cultivate due to water scarcity and no raining in October.

JEN distributes seeds suitable for drought and drip irrigation equipment as these might help to generate income without paddy in drought season.

Chill has many types: original, hybrid and modified and several grades. High grade seeds are management of production by the government.

It will harvest after 3 months and will generate income directly.

[Packing seeds by JEN’s staff]

[Distribution of seeds]

[Explained by the company regarding drip irrigation equipment]

[Beneficiaries set up the drip irrigation equipment]

Currently, farmers wish it will start rainy season and cultivate their field.

(It seems rainy season started in the end of October. So that paddy field has spread around the farming location as well as other crops which are against drought.

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November 9, 2017 in Sri Lanka |


Cattle Market Sarband Peshawar

In Pakistan, little by little people are returning to their homes following
the mop-up campaign against the armed groups. Look at the details here.

With the help of JEN’s supporters and the Japanese government JEN is working
on a livelihood improvement program, targeting the repatriated inhabitants of
FATA (Federally Administrated Tribal Area) Khyber Agency.
This program focuses on breeding livestock.

Livestock is primary source of livelihood for many people across rural areas in KP and FATA. For the reason, weekly cattle markets take place in these areas. These provide business opportunities to farmers to sell their livestock. According to the administrators of Sarband cattle market, before dislocation of masses this cattle market used to be held in BARA Khyber agency. However this was shifted to a location called Sarband located at the entrance of Bara Khyber Agency.

Huge numbers of small and large ruminants are sold out on every Thursday at this location. Before dislocation, BARA market was generating high-income for local communities. This location is relatively safe so the business volume has increased over the time. Farmers bring many different types of animals to the market like Friesian cow, Sahiwal cow, Achai cow, Bulkhi Sheep, Waziristani sheep, Beetal goats and damani goats.

There is an administration team from government side who takes care of the whole event. The sellers pay PKR 200-300 per large animal and PKR 50-100 per small animal as administration charges each time the they come to attend the market. Each week around 4 hundred small ruminants and 3 hundred large animals are sold in this market.

Many other people also get benefit from this market like transporters, livestock feed vendors and the local restaurants. There are two private veterinary facilitation centers located in Sarband cattle market. Livestock Farmers can avail the opportunity to consult private veterinary officers regarding vaccination, treatment and first aid for their livestock. This cattle market will serve as a potential business point for our beneficiaries in the future resulting in the development of their livelihoods.



【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.

November 2, 2017 in Pakistan |

Measuring the impact of DRR programme through KAP survey, A case study of 2017.

For the first time JEN implemented community based Disaster Risk Reduction training in district Charikar. Women were the main targeted group for this training program.  The aim of this program is to empower communities to prepare and stand against potential hazards effectively before they turn into disasters. For this purpose, the most vulnerable parts of the city were targeted and the trainees were registered from those areas. Apart from students 600 community members were targeted in the DRR training.

As women in the area were very familiar to the disasters such as flood, earthquake etc. Good point is that in this training program, women participated very actively. They were very interested to learn how to reduce the risk of the disasters.
JEN team conducted some interviews with the community people after the training to record their views. Bibi Shirin is a 63 years old woman. As per JEN team “when I asked her about natural disasters, she answered: the disasters are from side of God and we can’t do anything to stop them. What we can do is that we should escape its not a good way to stand and see God punishment.

After the training she was very thankful to JEN and said: “I learned that I was wrong. What I learned here in this training I am going to transfer them to my family. The important lessons were what to do before, during and after an earthquake, risk assessment, firefighting and First Aid to help other if they get injured.”

[Bibi Shirin giving interview to JEN staff.]

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.

November 2, 2017 in Afghanistan |


A summary of JEN projects in Kurdistan

It has been three years since JEN started working in Kurdistan with IDPs (Internally
Displaced Persons) and implementing different projects in areas affected by armed group. JEN now is doing projects in Mamilian IDPs Camp in Akre city, Sinjar district, Zummar sub district and Mosul city. 
Where the most vulnerable are.
Since it opened, JEN has been in charge of WASH services in Mamilian
IDPs Camp.  In the beginning, there were around 2,500 families living in the camp which were from different back ground. Since the armed group was defeated and the southern side of Sinjar city became safe in the past few months, some of those that heard through the local media that their home village is liberated returned home or to go to other camps. .  Yet, some of them will still continue living in the camp.  JEN will continue to support them by providing the best WASH services that we can. Our mission here is to help people be aware of the risk of diarrhea and the importance of hand washing and personal hygiene in maintaining health.

【 Families leaving Mamilian IDPs Camp】

<Liberation of Mosul>
After Mosul was liberated, JEN started to provide water trucking in west Mosul. Every day JEN delivers almost 800,000 litters of safe water to almost 80,000 people.

【JEN water trucking in West Mosul】

<Sinjar City, Sinjar Mountain and Sanuni Sub district>
In late 2014, JEN was one of the first international NGO to support IDPs on Sinjar Mountain and the few people remaining in Sinjar City after the liberation. The area became safer day by day and the number of returnees are increasing in Sinjar City.  JEN supported their return by rehabilitating one of the main water facilities; and are happy to see that families are coming back and reconstructing their broken houses. Next, JEN will work on school rehabilitation in Sinjar city so that the newly returned children have a school to study.

Water trucking is on going on Sinjar Mountain, JEN delivers water for displaced families there every day.

【Sinjar Mountain, A Water Tank, rehabilitated by JEN】

<Zummar Sub district>
In Zummar, 95% of families have already returned to their villages.  The fighting there was brief but there was still a lot of damage to infrastructure, houses, water sources and pipes and the schools.  People need these things to get their lives restarted and JEN delivers water by trucking in six villages of this area.  The water source was destroyed by armed group  and will take time to be repaired. The Local people are still waiting for the rehabilitation of the infrastructure. JEN will continue water trucking until mid of December and also working with water directorate to find other sustainable solutions for those villages.

【Frequent monitoring of rehabilitated water trucking】

Blog by: Hozan Kamal Hussein and Sherwan Meerhaj Muhammed. 
Photo credits :  © JEN Iraq

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October 26, 2017 in Iraq |


Monthly “ SHIOKAZE KITCHEN“ in Miyako city, Iwate prefecture

JEN continues to support “SHIOKAZE KITCHEN” which we featured in our newsletter last March. Miyako Council of Social Welfare in Iwate prefecture organizes the kitchen.

One of seven children in Japan now lives in poverty. Single parent families are particularly affected with 50% of them living in poverty..

“SHIOKAZE KITCHEN” is now an important community place. Allowing children to still follow their dreams and helping parents to share their problems.

Every month, single parent families, volunteers and staff from Miyako Council of Social Welfare get together, prepare meals, eat and enjoy their time together. 

This activity happens every month.  In August, we had an outdoor BBQ party as a special event requested by the children.

Unfortunately it was a rainy day, despite this everyone had a great time.

[People preparing rice balls for BBQ]

[BBQ started!]

[After the BBQ, we enjoyed fireworks]

[No one wanted the party to end!]

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August 30, 2017 in Tohoku Earthquake |


Ratnapura flood emergency assistance completed

On August 27, JEN completed the distribution of shelter emergency kits to 150 households in the 13 districts. We would like to thank you once again for your continued support.

This is a report on the distribution of the tent reinforcing materials JEN has provided in a camp in the Wanniyawaththa GN Division, Nivithigala DS, Ratnapura District.

[A JEN staff member (center) explains about the distribution during a brief sunny spell]

Temporarily shelters were installed and people affected by the flood resumed their daily lives.

[A steep mountain path on which one of the JEN team managed to sprain her ankle]

Unlike the material JEN has distributed can withstand heavy rain, so people can settle down and have a roof over their heads until their houses are rebuilt.

Even while we were providing this assistance, the news of extensive floods and mudslides came in one after another from India, Nepal, Sierra Leone and elsewhere.

【JEN is now asking for donations. Click here to donate】

August 27, 2017 in Sri Lanka |


[Ratnapura] After the flood -temporary shelter materials delivered and the handover ceremony held

The project to distribute temporary shelter materials was made possible with the support of our donors and Japan Platform (JPF). JEN would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who donated to this project.

The temporary shelter materials were delivered. (Click here for the article on the procurement of materials)

On August 11, the handover ceremony was held, attended by Mr. Sato, second secretary, Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka and the head of the Nivithigala County in the Ratnapura District.

The Loca Deniva Elementary School, where the ceremony was held, has been the shelter for 14 families for two weeks since the huge landslide on May 26. The ceremony hosted a large number of people, including the victims, residents of the community that had housed them and the local media.

The residents who planned the ceremony entertained everyone with music and dancing.  They also cooked special food, similar to the food they would prepare for a wedding celebration.

Photo_4 2
[Students performing a traditional dance]

After the ceremony, we distributed our materials to the families.
Temporary shelter materials were distributed to 120 families in a total of 14 districts and tent reinforcing materials to 30 families in one district.

3 4
[Distribution of materials; many young volunteers participated]

More heavy rain fell in the area but the local people were able to be dry in their temporary housing.
[Heavy rain again]

【JEN is now asking for donations. Click here to donate】

August 15, 2017 in Sri Lanka |