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HOME > Sector > Rural Development
Rural Development




More than three-quarters of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas. Most of them depend on small-scale cultivation. Enhancing productivity of farming and fishing is thus extremely important in reducing poverty. Even though agricultural activities are directly and indirectly relevant with Millennium Development Goal 1 (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger), 3 (promoting gender equality and empowering women), 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability), issues regarding agriculture and fisheries were not specifically mentioned in the MDGs. After a global food crisis from 2006 to 2008, food security emerged as an important issue for international debates. In this regard, food security and good nutrition became some of the most important components of the Post-2015 agenda. As such, development of farming and fishing villages will continue to have great importance. To actively take part in the global effort to achieve the MDGs related to agriculture, forestry, and fisheries and to develop the Post-2015 agenda, KOICA seeks to promote agricultural development and productivity, thereby contributing to partner countries’ sustainable development of farming and fishing villages and economic growth.


To contribute to the sustainable, endogenous development of rural areas in partner countries by enhancing food security, income levels, and quality of life


High-level objective

  • Increase productivity of agricultural and marine products and improve accessibility to achieve food security
  • Bolster the competitiveness of farming villages and generate added value for the economic empowerment
  • Guarantee production activities and improve living conditions for improvements in quality of life




Strategic Objectives

Build infrastructure for farming and fishing villages

Boost the productivity of agriculture and fisheries industries

Improve market accessibility of agricultural and marine products

Diversify income sources

Integrated rural development (Saemaul Undong) program

Key Programs

Expand the accessibility for water and land

Promote and support farmers’ organizations

Postharvest and processing technology

Promote farming village finance

Empowerment of communities

Improve mechanization in agricultural activities

Improve agricultural technologies

Extend distribution channels

Develop capacity for the vocational training

Application of integrated approaches

Improve the residential environment in rural areas

Strengthen agricultural policy competencies

Facilitate marketing ability

Support the development of agricultural industrialization

Adaptation to local conditions

Strengthen agricultural product export competencies

Support non-farm income generation

Sustainable business (value-chain approach)



Choice and Concentration

Aid Effectiveness

Partnership Reinforcement


Support programs with focus on the Country Partnership Strategy (CPS)


Strengthen monitoring and evaluation systems


Realization of the participatory model


Special concerns for vulnerable groups (e.g., women, children, etc.)


Apply programs per development phase of partner countries


Strengthen aid harmonization on sites


Focus on programs with comparative advantages





KOICA has been focusing on comprehensive rural development to enhance the productivity of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries and the quality of lives of farming village residents of partner countries. KOICA formulated the “KOICA Mid-Term Strategy on Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (2013-2015),” and set the major strategic objectives of: 1) boosting the productivity of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries, 2) improving market accessibility of agricultural and marine products, 3) diversifying sources of income, and 4) achieving integrated rural development of farming and fishing villages. KOICA is engaging in a wide variety of projects, including those related to: expanding agriculture and fisheries production infrastructure, improving the residential environment of rural areas, promoting farmers’ organizations, transferring agricultural technologies, strengthening agricultural policy competencies, promoting processing and distribution channels, strengthening export competencies, promoting farming village finance, and supporting the development of tour packages. 


1. Build infrastructure for farming and fishing villages 

Building infrastructure is a general precondition that needs to be satisfied for development of rural areas. However, it is difficult for a local community to independently build infrastructure because this requires immense financial resources and causes technical burden. KOICA is supporting infrastructure building programs for rural areas to establish infrastructures that promote convenience in the residents’ lives and enables essential for agricultural activities. 

(1) Expand the accessibility for water and land

Expand irrigation systems, develop and improve farmland, and support the mechanization of farming. 

(2) Improve mechanization in agricultural activities

Supply electricity and expand communication facilities. 

(3) Improve the residential environment in rural areas

Improve community roads, reform housing facilities including roof and kitchens, and expand water and sewage facilities.


2. Boost the productivity of agriculture and fisheries industries 

Many developing countries are suffering from stagnant productivity in the agriculture and fisheries industries owing to outdated agricultural production technologies and shortage of agricultural policy competencies. KOICA is supporting programs that are designed to improve productivity of the agriculture and fisheries industries to address this issue, thereby reducing poverty in rural areas and generating income of rural households. 

(1) Promote and support farmers’ organizations

Form farmers’ organizations, promote the operation of cooperative units, and promote joint purchasing of agricultural inputs and joint sales of agricultural products through cooperatives. 

(2) Transfer agricultural technologies

Develop and supply new varieties, provide training on agricultural technologies, support agricultural research institutes, and establish systems for disseminating different varieties and categories. 

(3) Strengthen competencies in formulating agricultural policies

Formulate rural areas development policies and compile agricultural statistics.


3. Improve market accessibility of agricultural and marine products 

In many developing countries, the distribution networks, including roads, are in poor conditions. In addition, it is difficult to develop a means of selling agricultural products. For this reason, there is a low level of food accessibility among residents and the income levels of farm families are low, resulting in increased poverty. KOICA is employing programs that improve market accessibility of agricultural and marine products as a way of addressing this food distribution issue, thereby reducing poverty in rural areas and generating the income levels of rural households. 

(1) Postharvest and processing technology

Support postharvest handling, treatment, storage, process, and package for keeping and enhancing quality of products. 

(2) Extend distribution channels

Build goods collection, storage, and distribution channels and expand transportation infrastructures for shipment support. 

(3) Facilitate marketing ability

Increase price negotiating skills, develop competitive local specialties, create brands, and secure stable means and paths of selling products. 

(4) Strengthen export competencies

Provide quarantine technologies and policy advice, build networks for exports, establish agricultural product quality management systems (agricultural and marine product quality certification and ISO standard), and provide relevant technical training.


4. Diversify income sources 

There is a need to develop new income sources to generate income levels of rural households and address the issue of agricultural productivity reduction in developing countries, which are rapidly undergoing industrialization. To resolve this issue, KOICA is supporting programs that are aimed at diversifying income sources. 

(1) Promote farming village finance

Overhaul farming village finance policies and systems and support microfinance for women and children. 

(2) Develop capacity for the vocational training

Provide vocational training to develop income sources other than farming as well as vocational training facilities and equipment. 

(3) Support the development of agricultural industrialization

Conduct feasibility studies, formulate plans on building agricultural industrial complexes, establish pilot fields, and promote employment opportunities for local residents in rural areas. 

(4) Support non-farm income generation

Support the development of packages, support facility development, provide advice on operating programs, identify income sources other than farming, and engage in activities that make a connection between the tourism and agricultural industries.


5. Integrated rural development (Saemaul Undong) program 

The international community has made efforts to eradicate poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development since the mid 20th century. These efforts were intensified when world leaders adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the United Nations in 2001 as common development goals for humanity. However, still a half of the world population continues to live in poverty, among them 1.2 billion living in extreme poverty. And, more than 70% of the poor live in rural areas of the developing world. Therefore, it is almost impossible to eradicate poverty and inequality and achieve the MDGs without addressing the rural poverty in developing countries. 

Meanwhile, there are several other social problems happening today around the world regardless of poor or rich countries. Those are growing income disparity, ageing population, isolation, anger and violence against unspecific people, and unemployment especially among the youth, to name a few. To tackle and solve these social problems effectively, it is necessary to build solidarity among people through reviving the community spirit, which includes enhancing the sense of connectivity among neighbors, regardless of spatial proximity, the sense of being cared for by neighbors and encouraging sharing of what people have with neighbors.         

  • Saemaul Undong as a Development Aid Program: Restoration of Community Empowerment  

It is in this context that the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), a central aid agency of the Korean government, has helped rural development projects for developing countries across the world, applying and adapting to local conditions Saemaul Undong approaches and methodologies of integrated rural development. The countries in which Saemaul Undong projects have been carried out include Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Colombia, among others. It is the findings of KOICA’s self-evaluation that Saemaul Undong projects have had positive impacts on project communities, resulting in the empowerment of community people, improvement of living environments, upgrade of rural infrastructure and diversification of income sources.  



 Countries to which KOICA has provided Saemaul Undong projects


  • Saemaul Undong projects that have been implemented bilaterally
    • Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal
    • Africa: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Congo DPR
    • Latin America: Colombia, Guatemala
  • Saemaul Undong projects that have been implemented in collaboration with multilateral organizations
    • UNESCAP: Cambodia, Lao PDR and Nepal
    • UNDP: Cambodia
    • WFP: Rwanda, Nepal  


On the basis of the experiences of Saemaul Undong both in Korea and other developing countries, KOICA believes that Saemaul Undong can help reduce poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development in the developing world, contributing to the achievement of the MDGs. Therefore, it is a key development aid strategy of KOICA for developing countries to replicate, expand and scale up Saemaul Undong in developing countries.



KOICA strategy of Saemaul Undong for the developing world 

President Young-mok Kim joins residents of Bulchana village, Ethiopia in chanting “We can do it!” KOICA implemented the Integrated Rural Development project in this village, based on Korea’s own rural development experience, Saemaul Undong 


Smart Package pursuing Comprehensive Development Goals  

Today, the world is better positioned than ever to put an end to poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development if humanity join hands and work together. To expedite the process, it is necessary to tackle rural poverty in the developing world. Rural poverty can be dealt with most effectively through the approaches and methodologies of integrated rural development like Saemaul Undong. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is a growing demand from the international community, especially from developing countries, to learn Saemaul Undong and replicate it for their development. 

Against this backdrop, KOICA plans to expand Saemaul Undong projects for developing countries. Countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Rwanda, and Mozambique would be the priority targets for Saemaul Undong, where top government officials have consistently shown high interest in Saemaul Undong, or other aid agencies including UNDP, WFP, UNFPA and Millennium Promise are carrying out rural development programs with which Saemaul Undong can generate synergies. 

The goal of Saemaul Undong is to help developing countries reduce poverty and inequality, promote sustainable development and achieve the MDGs through rural development. The implementing strategies for achieving this goal would be three-pronged, namely, organizing and empowering rural communities; applying integrated approaches; and adapting to local conditions while collaborating with other development stakeholders wherever possible.


Organizing and empowering rural communities 

This includes: training government officials, community leaders and villagers; organizing communities allowing people to carry out and maintain community development activities; promoting villagers’ participation in and contributions, both in-kind and in-cash, to community development activities; and encouraging the “can-do” spirit through combining traditional Saemaul Undong values of diligence, self-help and cooperation with new values of sharing, volunteering and creation. 


Applying integrated approaches  

First, this entails income generation and diversification of income sources. For this, productivity enhancing activities will be sought in agriculture, livestock, fishery and forestry, and off-farm activities will also be encouraged. Second, human and social development will be pursued through promoting health, sanitation, safe drinking water, education and gender equality. Third, rural infrastructure will be improved through building roads, bridges, culverts, irrigation canals, micro-grids, kitchen stoves, etc. while incorporating ICT and taking the environment into account whenever possible. 

Especially, household air pollution (HAP) from cooking will be decreased through distribution of clean cookstoves in rural community villages of higher performance as an incentive strategy. 

These activities will be carried out utilizing different levels of applicable “appropriate technologies” with special attention of achieving the MDGs in mind. 


Adapting to local conditions with appropriate technologies  

Income generation is of paramount importance as the ultimate goal of Saemaul Undong is to create prosperity that can lead ‘better lives’ for everyone.

The application of appropriate technology that is the most suitable and optimized for local environments can help increase income of communities and boost productive capacity. By utilizing appropriate technologies in the fields of ICT, energy and media in primary sectors such as agriculture and livestock industry, productivity can be pushed up and in turn food self-sufficiency can be achieved. Considering the small budget and low technological level of partner countries, the use of appropriate technology can serve as an important tool in bringing down high unemployment rate and improving vastly insufficient social services. 

※ Appropriate technology should be applied in businesses started by local residents that can turn profit no matter how small it is. To this end, it is important to create a demand, establish networks and cooperate with educational and research institutions in the local region. 

KOICA has a principle to focus on the developmental benefits brought about by appropriate technology rather than the technology itself. This requires us to think about the objectives of development interventions rather than the means or tools to achieve them. Accordingly, appropriate technologies that can be easily acquired and reinforced in the local conditions will be actively pursued.  


Framework/ Platform of Saemaul Undong as a Development Aid Program  

Below is the conceptual drawing for Saemaul Undong program that KOICA plans to carry out.


Major projects in 2015 




Lao Cai Hanh Phuc(happiness) Program with sharing development experience of Saemaul Undong (2014-2017/1400 mil)


Quang Tri Hanh Phuc (happiness) Program with sharing development experience of Saemaul Undong (2014-2017/967 mil)


Self-supporting Rural Development Project with Saemaul Undong's Participatory Approach (2014-2018/800 mil)


Integrated Rural Development Project with Saemaul Undong (SMU)'s Participatory Approach in Lao PDR (2014-2019/1,455 mil)


Saemaul Undong Project in Myanmar (2014-2019/2,200 mil)


Rural Community Support Project (2014-2018/1,100 mil)


The Inclusive Rural Development Project in Nawalparasi

 (2014-2017/800 mil)


 The project for establishment of the post-harvest research institute in Myanmar (2014-2017/450 mil)


Establishment of the Fruit Processing Factory in Teso Region, Uganda (2011-2016/740 mil)