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Rural Life Improvement in Asia

(02-AG-IC-SEM-02) Report of the APO Seminar on Rural Life Improvement for Community Development, Japan, 22–26 April 2002

©APO 2003, ISBN: 92-833-7024-4




Rural life improvement programs in several APO member countries in the past have had numerous features in common with the sustainable livelihood approach, which has been in the limelight as an innovative method for rural community development in recent years. Generally, rural life programs focus on not only improving the production aspect but also the living conditions of rural people. The Rural Life Improvement Program in Japan and the Saemaul Undong in Korea, for example, have succeeded in mobilizing a large number of local people and broad-based local resources for rural livelihood improvement and productivity activities. 4-H Clubs in the Republic of China and the Philippines have also contributed greatly to the betterment of rural living standards.

The distinctive features of successful rural life improvement programs may be summarized as follows. Community people, mainly rural women, mobilize their local resources for the betterment of daily life based on the spirit of self-help. The construction of simple water supply systems, communal cooking and childcare during the peak agricultural season, and improvement of cooking stoves and toilets are typical examples. Rural life improvement officers and/or extension workers play a significant role as motivators to encourage villagers to initiate changes, as organizers to promote group activities, or as coordinators between the local government and community people. The central and local governments provide minor but effective assistance in the areas where local people alone cannot manage by themselves. It should be noted that these rural life improvement movements include almost all the key elements of development efforts which have recently been highlighted: people’s participation; community-driven development; human-centered development; social capital enhancement; gender and development; facilitating the role of outsiders in the development process; and decentralization. In the Asia-Pacific region, we can find ample examples of successful cases of rural life improvement programs now. In this regard, it is useful to learn lessons from boththe past achievements and serious ongoing serious efforts.

The APO organized the Seminar on Rural Life Improvement for Community Development in Japan, 22-26 April 2002. This publication containsis a report on the proceedings of the seminar, and a compilation of the resource papers and country papers presented to the meeting. It is my hope that this will be a useful reference text for those who are involved in rural development in the Asia-Pacific region. The APO is grateful to the Government of Japan for hosting the seminar, the Association for International Cooperation of Agriculture and Fisheries for implementing the program, and the resource speakers for their valuable contributions.

– TAKASHI TAJIMA, APO Secretary-General, Tokyo, July 2003

Download the entire e-book (1.37Mb)
Part I. Summary of Findings
Part II. Resource Papers
1. Rural Life Improvement Movement in Contemporary JapanMasami Mizuno
2. Rural Life and Extension Service in JapanMieko Takaoka
3. Rural Life Improvement Experience in Japan for Rural Development in Developing CountriesHiroshi Sato
4. An Actor-Oriented Approach to Development InterventionProf. Dr. Norman Long
Part III. Country Papers
1. FijiEla Tukutukulevu
2. India (1)Chandrasekhar Rao Mallineni
3. India (2)Mahadev R. Kamble
4. Indonesia (1)Eneng Nurcahyati
5. Indonesia (2)Pamela Fadhilah
6. Islamic Republic of Iran (1)Seyed Mohammad Moosavi Ghahderijani
7. Islamic Republic of Iran (2)Zohreh Tofangchi Mahyari
8. Republic of Korea (1)Dr. Chang Soo Choe
9. Republic of Korea (2)Dr. Mi-Ryung Song
10. Malaysia (1)Robiah Bt. Lazim
11. Malaysia (2)Dr. Mohammad Shatar Sabran
12. MongoliaDamdinsuren Enkhee
13. NepalKrishna Bahadur Katuwal
14. Sri LankaPathmajina Siriwardana
15. Thailand (1)Chusak Chongsmack
16. Thailand (2)Saowanee Khomepatr
17. VietnamNguyen Vu Viet Nga
Part III. Appendices
  List of Participants, Resource Speakers, Observers, and Secretariat
Program of Activities
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