President Paul Kagame has attributed Rwanda’s steady progress in the last decade to adoption of home-grown solutions.
He was addressing a High Level Meeting yesterday during the United Nations Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda convened under the theme: “A New Rural Development Paradigm and the Inclusive and Sustainable New Communities Model inspired by the Saemaul Undong."
President Kagame said home-grown initiatives drawn from Rwanda’s culture have to a large extent contributed to Rwanda’s progress.
“From Gacaca, our community courts, which has brought restorative justice and reconciliation to a once divided nation; to Ubudehe which supports rural communities to collectively solve problems related to poverty; to Imihigo which enables citizens to keep their leaders accountable to Umuganda and many others,” he said.
The event, co hosted by UNDP, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and OECD was an opportunity to discuss the central role of rural development in sustainable development goals.
Citing Korea’s ‘Saemaul Undong’ success in achieving development, President Kagame described Korea’s home-grown solution as testimony that local ownership of development programs, citizen involvement and national unity always yields results, according to a statement from the presidency.
“These are the values that guided Rwanda’s post-genocide development agenda. We chose to take responsibility for our reconstruction, by building consensus on a national vision, and working together to ensure no one was left behind,” Kagame said.
Emphasising the importance of solutions informed by a local context, President Kagame called on a future of sustainable development goals centred on mutual learning and global cooperation:
“Changing mindsets, and doing things differently, is never easy, But doing the right things and getting results builds resilience and the capacity to do even more. Each country has its own unique circumstances and challenges, but also the resources to solve its problems, complemented by external partnerships.”
The high level event was co-chaired by President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and attended by President Choummaly Sayasone of Laos, President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam, President Ollanta Moisés Humala of Peru and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
President Park Geun-hye described ‘Saemaul Undong’ as a development strategy that has not only helped lift Korea up but also transformed Korea’s national ethos.
“Half a century ago, Korea's per capita GDP stood below one hundred dollars. We were among the poorest countries in the world. And yet, fired by a desire for a better life, the whole nation rallied together to climb out of poverty. And we did so in the spirit of diligence, self-help and cooperation that animated the ‘Saemaul Undong.’ As a result, Korea managed to industrialise, and within five decades, we rose to become one of the top 15 economies in the world,” he said.
‘Saemaul Undong’ or New Community Movement was South Korea’s home-grown initiative launched in 1970s by South Korean President Park Chung Hee. The initiative which centred on traditional values of communalism and self reliance played a key role in modernizing South Korea.