The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction:

A Commitment to Poverty Reduction in Asia and the Pacific

Fighting Poverty in Asia and the Pacific

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) has been providing support to Asia and the Pacific’s poorest and most vulnerable for the last 20 years. Established in May 2000 after the Asian financial crisis, the JFPR aims to foster long-term social and economic development through projects that

  • directly reduce poverty
  • provide innovative and demonstrable impacts
  • has positive prospects of developing into sustainable activities

The fund does these by providing grants and technical assistance to the marginalized and vulnerable. As of December 2020, the JFPR had received a total of $930 million in contributions from the Government of Japan. With these, it has funded 487 projects—200 in grants and 287 in technical assistance—amounting to more than $956.6 million.*

The JFPR has evolved over the years, growing in scope and scale to respond to poverty-related issues. It has provided support to projects that respond to the needs of the poor, specifically in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, climate change, disaster risk reduction and management, education, gender, health, social protection, transport, and water and sanitation, among others. It has contributed to building community infrastructure and institutions while enhancing the capacities of government and nongovernment organizations.

In terms of supporting the operational priorities of ADB’s Strategy 2030, the JFPR has poured a significant portion of its resources into the following:

  • Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development $241 million
  • Transport $126 million
  • Health $112 million

A Look Back at 20 Years of Assistance to Asia and the Pacific’s Poorest and Most Vulnerable

Optimizing Grants and Technical Assistance

JFPR’s grants are designed to

  • support well-targeted poverty reduction and social development activities that directly impact the poor, socially or economically excluded, or vulnerable groups
  • stimulate the self-help capacity of the poor and vulnerable groups
  • encourage the widespread participation of stakeholders at the community level
  • positively impact developing members' operations and approaches to sustainable poverty reduction

2 JFPR Grants Bring Rural Access and Health Services to Tajikistan

Two JFPR grants, 9111-TAJ and 9171-TAJ, upgraded a hospital and improved mobility for poor rural communities.

9111-TAJ built a bridge over a river linking poor communities to markets, jobs, and social services. 9171-TAJ built a bridge, rehabilitated a road, and upgraded a maternal and child hospital. The hospital upgrade contributed to a 71%–100% increase in hospital deliveries and zero maternal and neonatal deaths.

Its technical assistance projects are meant to

  • strengthen the capacity of executing agencies and other development partners to implement and operate projects
  • prepare and coordinate development strategies, plans, and programs, and carry out sector, policy, and issue studies
  • improve knowledge of development issues in Asia and the Pacific and foster inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth plus regional cooperation and integration among developing members
  • analyze, plan, and prepare development projects

Serving as a Platform for Innovation

The JFPR was designed as a platform for testing and cultivating new approaches in poverty reduction. Over the last 20 years, many JFPR pilots have been scaled up or became bases for larger projects. An evaluation of projects in several countries (Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan, as well as one regional project) revealed notable innovative features embedded in grant and technical assistance (TA) projects.

Papua New Guinea: Extending the Socioeconomic Benefits of an Improved Road Network to Roadside Communities

Communities constructed, rehabilitated, and maintained over 80 kilometers (km) of rural feeder roads using donou, a traditional Japanese method of paving roads using soil packed in bags and other local materials.

Mongolia: Reducing Persistent Chronic Malnutrition in Children in Mongolia

Project promoted innovative multiple micronutrient powder (or “sprinkles”) among children 6–24 months old and pregnant and lactating women of the project areas.

Mongolia: Early Childhood Education for Rural, Nomadic, and Migrant Children

Traditional “ger” tents were used as kindergartens for rural, nomadic, and migrant children.

Mongolia: Promoting Inclusive Financial Services for the Poor

Television drama series helped poor households become financially literate.

Nepal: Reducing Child Malnutrition through Social Protection

Cash transfers were linked to child nutrition.

Nepal: Integrated Urban Development Project

Project preparatory technical assistance included capacity development, procurement, and preparatory support for the ensuing project.

Philippines: Promoting Partnerships and Innovation in Poor and Underserved Communities

Public, private, and civil society partnerships supported the development of poor and underserved communities.

Sri Lanka: Post-Conflict Emergency Assistance for Livelihood Restoration of Resettled Internally Displaced People in the North

Cash for work programs were used to maintain infrastructure for internally displaced people.

Sri Lanka: Improving Community-Based Rural Water Supply and Sanitation in Post-Conflict Areas of Jaffna and Kilinochchi

Community-based organizations supervised construction, payroll management, and operations and maintenance.

Tajikistan: Improved Maternal and Child Health through Connectivity

Infrastructure upgrading was combined with improved health services for mothers and children.

Tajikistan: Sustainable Access for Isolated Rural Communities

Community-based approach ensured ownership and sustainable maintenance.

Regional: Applying Remote Sensing Technology in River Basin Management

Remote sensing was used to improve river-basin and flood-risk management.

Other Features of JFPR Assistance

Emergency Assistance

Cyclone Pam School Reconstruction (2015)

Aims to rebuild and climate-proof junior secondary schools damaged by Category 5 Cyclone Pam.

$5 million

Piggy-backed to Loans

Enabling and Skilling Communities for Sustainable Water Services in West Bengal (2018)

Supports ADB loan West Bengal Drinking Sector Improvement Project in providing safe and reliable drinking water in West Bengal.

$3 million

Assistance to FCAS (Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations)

Development of Mini Hydropower Plants in Badakhshan and Bamyan Provinces (2009)

Improved the quality of life of rural communities in Badakhshan and Bamyan provinces through the provision of electricity services supplied by mini hydropower plants.

$3 million

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