UNICEF and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) sign partnership to foster collaboration in West Africa

12 October 2023
A man and a woman holding signed MOUs
UNICEF 2023/Creative Studio

DAKAR, 11 October 2023 – UNICEF today signed a partnership framework with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is expected to kick-start a major new investment collaboration in West Africa, focused on education. The partnership aims to bring together the collective strength, mandates, experiences and resources of the two organisations to generate greater synergies and results for children and young people. The longer-term vision is to use education to contribute to resilient communities and societies in the region.

West and Central Africa has the highest number of children dropping out of school of any region in the world: it is estimated that the region has 57 million children out of school, a quarter of the global number.

Insecurity and conflict are a leading cause of children ending their schooling, with more than 13,000 schools closed in the region due to attacks and direct threats to the lives of pupils and school staff and communities.

JICA has been supporting community-based school management through the technical cooperation project “Ecole pour Tous”[i] since 2004, first in Niger and then extended to several other countries in the region. JICA’s partnership on education with UNICEF in West and Central Africa already covers Burkina Faso (US$21 million). The Partnership Framework signed today covers a total of seven countries in West Africa – Cabo Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, the Gambia, Senegal. In the coming weeks, JICA is expected to sign a “grant agreement” with UNICEF Mali to improve access and the quality of education for vulnerable children in the country.

Under the new partnership, JICA and UNICEF will work together to identify needs, and provide guidance and technical support around the provision of quality education to the most underserved communities in the Sahel and surrounding countries. UNICEF has a strong operational capacity in the proposed Sahel countries and is supported by 176 education staff, including in field/zonal offices, who work in collaboration with other sectoral specialists in related areas such as water & sanitation, and child protection.    

Under a global Memorandum of Cooperation with UNICEF, renewed in November 2022, JICA prioritizes not only hardware (infrastructure, such as school construction) but also soft components, such as teacher capacity building for improving quality of learning, alternative education for out-of-school girls and boys, and initiatives to make schools and surrounding communities safe and resilient.

According to Dr Hiromichi MORISHITA, Chief Representative of JICA Senegal office, "This Partnership Framework is a symbol of our cooperation and demonstrates our desire to bring our efforts together in the search for peace and stability, development and prosperity in the Sahel region. There are national coordination frameworks, but this protocol materializes the first collaboration framework at the regional level and I am happy and proud of this cooperation for the most important region in Africa".

"This partnership framework comes at just the right time for countries in the Sahel and neighbouring states where the education of boys and girls is increasingly threatened by conflict, climate change and economic pressures,’’ said Felicité Tchibindat, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “I wish to thank the generous, significant and long-running support from the government and people of Japan for investing in the future development of this region, which rests on the education of its children.’’

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Every year, the Government of Japan supports UNICEF to carry out interventions in emergency areas. Since 2013, Japan has contributed to UNICEF through the diversified areas such as education, nutrition, water and sanitation, health and coronavirus control.

To learn more about Japan's cooperation in Senegal, please visit

JICA Senegal website: 在セネガル日本国大使館 (emb-japan.go.jp)

Follow JICA Senegal on Facebook

Website of the Embassy of Japan in Senegal: Senegal | Where We Work - JICA

Follow the Embassy of Japan in Senegal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram


[i] The "Ecole pour Tous" project is a collaborative effort involving parents, teachers and local opinion leaders, who form COGES (School Management Committees) working closely with the Ministries of Education in their countries.

Media contacts

John James
UNICEF West & Central Africa
Tel: +221 78 638 02 52

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in West and Central Africa, visit https://www.unicef.org/wca.

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