A New Rural Development Paradigm for the 21st Century

A Toolkit for Developing Countries

image of A New Rural Development Paradigm for the 21st Century

Three billion people live in rural areas in developing countries. Conditions for them are worse than for their urban counterparts when measured by almost any development indicator, from extreme poverty, to child mortality and access to electricity and sanitation. And the gulf is widening, contributing to large-scale migration to urban areas. This situation exists despite half a century of rural development theories and approaches, and despite the global momentum built around the Millennium Development Goals between 2000 and 2015. Without greater progress on rural development, it is unlikely that the new Sustainable Development Goals will be met. This book calls for a new paradigm for rural development that is equipped to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities of the 21st century – including climate change, demographic shifts, international competition and fast-moving technological change.



The rural development experience of the Republic of Korea

OECD Development Centre

The Republic of Korea’s rapid rise from a mainly agricultural nation and food-aid recipient to one of the fastest-growing OECD economies is inspirational. This chapter explores the factors behind this transition, focusing in on the role of rural development policy from the 1950s onwards. Of particular interest is the national programme for rural development known as Saemaul Undong, or new village movement, which used incentives and competition to encourage villagers to improve their communities. Korea’s fast and successful industrialisation process involved large-scale migration from rural to urban areas, as well as an increasing rural-urban income gap. Saemaul Undong acted as a buffer during this transformation, redistributing wealth through subsidies for agriculture, increasing agricultural productivity, and providing infrastructure in rural areas. While Korea’s set up is unique, there are specific components of its rural development approach that could offer inspiration to policy makers in developing countries. These include: (1) early establishment of the preconditions required for rural development and rapid industrialisation (low socio-economic disparities, strong human and social capital and effective rural institutions); (2) multi-sectoral approaches and effective governance; and (3) sequential policy implementation enhanced through incentives and monitoring.


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