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Development plan in works

Villagers in three provinces are currently being surveyed by the Ministry of Rural Development and South Korea’s International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for an upcoming development pilot project.

The surveys in Takeo, Kampong Speu and Tbong Khmum provinces seek to find 30 villages to be a part of the KOICA-funded New Villages Movement, and should wrap up by the end of the month, said Rural Development Minister Chea Sophara.

“The New Villages Movement is a pilot project made possible by $8 million granted by South Korea in a memorandum of understanding,” Sophara said yesterday. “Our Cambodian officials have been to South Korea to learn different techniques from Korea; now they are ready to go to the villages and train villagers to make them better, according to the project.”

Under the plan, ministry officials will promote a community-based rural development model, a statement on KOICA’s website says. Voluntary participation of villagers, who will make collective decisions on what the community needs, should provide sustainable improvements.

Training villagers in best practices in several fields is integral to the project, Sophara said. Thus, only villages interested in learning are eligible.

“We will train villagers in how to improve farming, animal feeding and the use of natural resource areas,” Sophara said yesterday. “We also will encourage them to take control of their villages and work together to achieve this.”

New Villages will operate in Cambodia as a five-year pilot program, according to KOICA. It is not yet clear what will happen after the program ends.

Methodology planned to be used in the Cambodian program mirrors Saemaul Undong, a project proven successful in South Korea, KOICA’s website says.

“Originally targeted toward the agricultural sector, Saemaul Undong soon inspired economic, social and cultural revolutions in the 1970s,” KOICA says. “The sense of accomplishment and pride that Korea has developed over the past four decades . . . encourage[s] spreading it throughout the world.”

In a phone interview yesterday, Sao Dona, KOICA’s program officer in Cambodia, credited the South Korean program with turning the nation from developing to developed.



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