Journal of International Development Studies
Online ISSN : 2434-5296
Print ISSN : 1342-3045
Japan's ODA to Bangladesh: Lessons Learned and Strides Forward
Monir Hossain MONI
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2006 Volume 15 Issue 1 Pages 117-130


During more than three decades, Japan has strenuously and consistently been upholding its status as the “single largest donor” in Bangladesh, one of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) located in South Asia. Japan has distinctly proved itself to be a “tested, trusted and dignified” development partner to the country as well. It is an irrefutable fact that several contributions of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) loan programs to Bangladesh, in dealing predominantly with the infrastructure development sectors, have already been identified as “milestone successes.” Nonetheless, it can fairly be asked whether the magnitude of its aid had significantly been efficacious in fostering Bangladesh's sustainable livelihood efforts. On the one hand, while poverty eradication is given a supreme priority with an expanded focus being put on “quality of aid,” Japan's ODA policy considerations regarding Bangladesh are oftentimes being called into question in the reasonableness that its foreign aid is rather too “gigantic” and “radical.” One the other, despite abundant donations from Japan and other major bilateral donors, Bangladesh has still sizeable shortfalls in the key areas like poverty alleviation, environmental hazards, healthcare and nutrition, and basic education. In practice, development cooperation scenario in Bangladesh has seriously been hindered by an absence of renovated “implementation and management efficiency,” a lack of strong “ownership and self-help effort strategies,” as well as a need for effective “partnership and aid coordination” among the multilateral aid agencies, national and local governments, and non-state actors. Hence, in order to reap the fullest benefit from Japanese foreign aid to Bangladesh in the years ahead, its ODA strategies need a new thinking. To make ODA more praiseworthy of public trust and support, it is very urgent to hear the voices of the beneficiaries of public goods Japan provides. Against this crux, while the study critically analyzes the impact of Japan's ODA to Bangladesh, this unique research article endeavors to concretely suggest about how Japanese generous foreign aid efforts to Bangladesh could strive to assist the nation, from the “lessons learned,” toward addressing the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as making it as one of the “stable, poverty-free and prosperous” Asian nations in the most challenging epoch of globalization.

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© 2006 The Japan Society for International Development
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