The Saemaul Undong inspired Inclusive and Sustainable New Communities project launched in Uganda

Jul 10, 2015

Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, the UNDP Resident Representative/UN Resident Coordinator hands over the project documents Patrick Mutabwire, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Local Government while the Minister, Hon. Adolf Mwesige and the Ambassador Park Jong-Dae, of Republic of Korea look on in Kibiito ground, Kabarole district (Photo Credit: UNDP Uganda 2015).

Kabarole - Archangel Byaruhanga is a fascinating community leader, passionate about his people’s development. Using Community led initiatives, Byaruhanga is hopeful that his community will rise to prosperity and be economically empowered and food secure.

Lucky Karugaba, a widow with two children, is an industrious woman who is making the best out of her one acre piece of land. She has two cows which she is zero-grazing, a litter of pigs and a banana plantation. Lucky hopes to add some goats and chicken so that her income can double and ensure that her children have university tuition and also so she can continue to be a model farmer for her community.

Bosco Byaruhanga is a school teacher at Kyeya Primary School, he enjoys working with his pupils but it’s tough because the school still has many needs. He would like to see his school looking better in five years with more teachers and more classrooms for the students, so that all the children in his community have an opportunity to get a good education.

The three are part of a community group which is practising Saemaul Undong values, which promote a spirit of volunteerism and self-help that leads to individual and community development. These values encourage communities to take charge of their development.

It’s for this reason that the Republic of Korea is partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Local Government to promote the Saemaul Undong model for rural development in Uganda.

The model which will be practised under the new Inclusive and Sustainable New Communities (ISNC) project was recently launched in Kabarole district by the Minister of Local Government, Hon. Adolf Mwesige.

“It is always gratifying to be part of new innovations and trends like this one that are aimed at transforming the social fabric and livelihoods of the Ugandan people,” Hon. Mwesige said during the project launch event.

He pointed out that the attributes of Saemaul Undong such as self-help, voluntarism and diligence were once cherished virtues in Uganda and were popularly referred to as bulungi bwansi. These attributes have sadly disappeared from the communities because of social, cultural and technological dynamics as well as foreign influence and this project is seen as a good opportunity to restore them.

Hon. Mwesige also added that this project is timely in supporting the Ministry’s decentralisation endeavors which strive and ensure to and instill good local governance, improve efficiency in service delivery and reduce abject poverty from all Ugandan communities.

Also speaking at the event, the UNDP Resident Representative/UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie reminded the community that they were the engine for the project’s success.

“The currency of this project will be you the community, who will be responsible for taking charge and ensuring success and transformation in your communities,” she said, adding that both local and national leaders are equally responsible for ensuring that the project is inclusive and sustainable, making sure that no one is left behind.

Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie also pointed-out that agriculture which is one of the key sectors in Uganda is also one of the Saemaul Undong model’s key values which views it as the main driver of modernisation and a gateway for employment.

She added that it promotes farming as an economically viable profession hence it is critical to change mindsets to view agriculture as an area of viable investment. “If this is achieved, then we shall be able to promote it to attract many of our unemployed youth who are out there looking for white-collar jobs.”

Ms. Eziakonwa called on the community to ensure that they learn how to share land with the mothers, sisters and wives so that they too are not left behind.

Ambassador Park Jong-Dae of the Republic of Korea noted that he was happy to see model that drove his country’s rural areas to development being replicated in Uganda and five other countries including Rwanda, Vietnam, Bolivia, Lao PDR and Myanmar.

“We hope it will be successful so that the experiences from these communities can be promoted by the local government country-wide,” he said.

For Archangel, Lucky and Bosco, this project is only the beginning of the change in their lives and in their communities.

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