Eriko Asakura (second from left) from the Embassy of Japan visiting Japanese-funded operations in Katanga
Copyright: WFP/Heeju Hwang
Eriko, who works as a researcher on economics and co-operation in the Embassy of Japan in Kinshasa, agreed to answer a few questions about her time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She recently undertook a field trip to Katanga where she visited activities implemented by WFP with funding from the Government of Japan.
1. You undertook a field mission to Katanga at the end of May to visit WFP’s activities funded by the Government of Japan. What can you tell us about that?
My visit to Katanga was for eight days and I spent four of those in the so-called “triangle of death”, specifically Manono, Malemba-Nkulu and Mitwaba with one day in Kasumbalesa, a village on the border with Zambia. While in this area, I was witness to a humanitarian situation. I saw many young women, most of whom were malnourished, as well their children. The area is remote and difficult to reach and I commend WFP for their tireless efforts in reaching the most destitute with life-saving assistance. I was glad to have seen that the contribution of the Government of Japan is helping support those who most need assistance.
2. What was the most interesting part of your mission?
I started my international co-operation career with an international non-government organization for emergency assistance. So, for me, visiting the field was like coming back to where I began. I’ve been in the DRC for three years now but it was my first visit to the province of Katanga. It was very enlightening to witness the activities of WFP in this war-stricken province that’s home to various armed groups. I saw first-hand the difficulties of delivering assistance to these extremely remote areas. I felt that WFP’s activities are really saving lives every day.
3. Tell us about the beneficiaries.
In spite of the very challenging situation in which the displaced people were living, they seemed grateful for the support from Japan. One person from the local authorities told me that it’s encouraging for them to see people from the diplomatic corps and international organizations visiting them. It re-assures them they are not abandoned. For this one thing alone, for me the visit was worth it.