Archive of Activities

Application of Saemaul Undong to African Rural Development

December 1, 2008


Despite the consistent emphasis and the growing diversity of aid programmes provided by some of the economically advanced Member States and/or international organizations, poverty in Africa – especially in Sub-Saharan rural areas – remain a serious issue, and its prospect of reaching the internationally agreed development goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the UN remain rather pessimistic. Aside from the need of sound financial support, coming up with effective prescriptive measures to this predicament must accompany viable methods which not only ground themselves upon convincing theories but also actively incorporate proven benefits of the past country and regional cases that have demonstrated aspects of practical success. In view of this necessity for benchmarking the actual success models, UNPOG directed its attention to Korea’s community development movement otherwise referred to as “Saemaul Undong” (or the New Village Movement) which initiated during the period of 1970s, which, following its positive effects in the rural areas, eventually spread to the country’s urban regions, establishing itself to become a national phenomenon. Considered as the principal propelling force behind Korea’s economic and social development, Saemaul model (and their diverse practical variants) have already been implemented in regions outside its original country, and is still the subject of great interest to governance practitioners in diverse developing countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia.

UNPOG research on the Saemaul Undong has focused on the following two themes: a) Saemaul Undong Movement interpreted within the framework of governance, and b) Application of Saemaul Undong approaches to African rural development. 

Following the previous theoretical study, UNPOG undertook its second research project which focused on the analysis of the actual Saemaul pilot programmes implemented in parts of Africa, including how the application of the model could be optimized to the unique conditions in the region. The detailed scrutiny of success elements and practical limits of these empirical cases will be used to provide effective guidelines as to how Saemaul – as a feasible and sustainable development instrument – could effectively be transferred to various parts of Africa. Specific components of this particular regional case study will consist of the following: 

Basic research on the past and current rural development programs in the selected parts of Africa 
▪ Identification and analysis of Saemaul pilot projects conducted in the region 
▪ Comparative analysis of pilot projects/ transfer of rural development models in the region 
▪ Analysis of the cases' limits, their degree of success, and their transferability to other regions in terms of their sociological, cultural, economic, and political contexts 
▪ Exploration of viable Saemaul-inspired rural development programs which take into account diverse specificities of the region 
▪ Lessons and insights which could contribute to enhancing the efficiency of such policy/program transfer 

These papers constituted the basic thematic undertone and contents of the Africa workshop which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 17 to 19 December, and will continuously provide basic thematic guidelines for the UNPOG’s activities related to African rural development in the future.

* This research was published in Korean.

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