Islamabad - Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), official donor agency of the Republic of Korea, has held a workshop ‘Saemaul Undong (SMU); Implication for Socio-Economic Development of Pakistan’ here at KOICA office.

The theme of the workshop was how to ensure KOICA’s grant aid programme sustainability via SMU.

The workshop presented the success story of initiating SMU in Punjab, where Saemaul Undong methodology was adopted to revitalise 2,000 rural communities, and shared development experiences of Korea for poverty alleviation and income generation. Sung Choon-ki, the director general of KOICA Pakistan, began the workshop and said, “Saemaul Undong has high potential to be adopted in Pakistan and it will contribute greatly in social and economic development of Pakistan.

Pakistan, particularly Punjab, has vast human and natural resources that can be used to create income and eradicate poverty. Pakistan has similar industrial structure to Korea in 1970s.” He also added, “I hope the workshop would be a chance for Pakistan to apply SMU to rural community actively.”

Mohsin Khan, workshop coordinator, said, “Improving and empowerment of minds is essential to sustainability of the projects. Most of the developmental theories and models in development are compose of either social and physical improvement or empowerment of people.

But the Korean participatory development model “New Village Movement” is one of the unique and comprehensive models that encompasses physical, social and cognitive development of the communities to not only change their living standards but also to create resilience via mental reforms/changes pertinent to sustainability.”

The speaker at the first session Prof Rai Niaz Ahmed, vice chancellor PMAS-Arid Agriculture University of Rawalpindi, emphasised importance of capacity building and role of universities and institution in development.

He said, “We can continue sustainability of aid projects by adapting core elements of SMU.”

On behalf of Dawood Muhammad Bareach, secretary local government and rural development of Punjab, Additional Secretary Fasial Farid introduced model villages and rural development programmes in Punjab in the second session entitled ‘Implication of Saemaul Undong for Rural Development in Pakistan.’ In this session, they also discussed how to adopt SMU to rural areas effectively.

Two thousand model villages are being managed and they are trying to develop rural community actively for poverty alleviation and socio-economic development of Pakistan and particularly Punjab.