Laos, South Korea agree to future rural development

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) -- South Korea has agreed to continue supporting Laos in rural community development activities through the Saemaul Undong project.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to carry on expanding rural community development activities in Laos.

The MOU was signed by the President of KOICA, Ms Lee Mi Kyuang, and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Lien Thikeo. The signing was witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Somdy Duangdy.

This latest agreement follows on from a previous five-year Saemaul Undong agreement that assisted Vientiane and Savannakhet provinces.  

Under this MOU, KOICA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will jointly initiate rural community development projects in three of Laos’ southern provinces.

The two parties will consult each other with regard to the project’s overall progress, finance, form and structure as they strive to improve the lives of people in these rural village communities.  

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ms Lee said that since 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and KOICA have produced many tangible results in the area of rural development.

She said she believed in the project because it involves villagers directly in the improvement of their own lives.  Individual and community lives are transformed by the Saemaul Undong ethos. 

Ms Lee said the focus of future agriculture development projects should be on improving quality of life through creative measures that are appropriate and sustainable into the future.

KOICA has implemented many projects in countries that include Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Laos over the last five years.

The agency is also planning to run a five-year rural development project in southern Laos beginning in 2020.

Lao society has undergone considerable change during the last five years and plans for rural and agricultural development need to be adjusted accordingly. 

“The new projects will be quite different from the previous ones, having been modified to reflect the changing pattern of values and behaviours,” Ms Lee said.

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