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New Community Movement

Necessary and sufficient conditions must be formed for an event to take place. Mongolia almost has all the conditions required to achieve flourishing development. Our country is a democratic republic where the people have rights and freedoms, and has its own constitution as well as a free market economy. We have three million people and 60 million livestock in an area of 1.5 million square kilometers. Mongolia is a peaceful country that is rich in natural resources and is almost exempt from experiencing disastrous situations.
The problem is that our government lacks in capability and quality of governance. The government has not seen enough stability and has never been capable of implementing long term policy. We debate about this every day in the media.
One other problem that often goes unnoticed is the fact that Mongolians are not working together. Cooperation is the missing necessary condition for the development of our country.
We can clearly see that without working together, caring for each other, and committing to shared responsibilities, our country barely manages to survive from one crisis to another, while being unable to really develop.
South Koreans managed to make their country one of the ten biggest economies in the world in only 50 years by combining their efforts and implementing good long term policy for growth. When will we learn to work together like they did?

KOREA’S SAEMAUL UNDONG MOVEMENT

After the Korean War ended in 1953, South Korea’s economy had fully collapsed, while hunger crept up on rural and urban areas. People did not have any tools or equipment to farm with. They had to boil wood for food and cut down entire forests to make fires and keep warm. When floods came down from the stripped mountains, the water damaged soil meant for farming. In wintertime, farmers spent most of their time drinking and gambling.
Park Chung-hee, who was born into a poor family and was enlisted in the Japanese army, took power in 1960 and undertook the huge project of restoring South Korea. He obtained foreign loans and had a highway built between Seoul and Busan. Afterwards, he focused on the development of heavy industry and had the first steel plant (POSCO) built.
Also, Park Chung-hee’s government provided 35,000 villages with 335 sacks of cement each, and entrusted the locals to build whatever they wanted with them. This is how the New Community Movement (Saemaul Undong) started countrywide.
In 1970, he had roads built from his native village to nearby ones, fixed old bridges, and repaired tracks to farming fields. Roofs and fences were also repaired. Other work included digging wells, cleaning freshwater ponds, and making trenches.
Villages used cement for construction for the first time, which resulted in better quality and more durability compared to previous construction techniques employed.
When undertaking all these projects, people worked together. It boosted labor productivity and improved their livelihoods. The villagers who were encouraged by the work they had done started growing trees in the mountains and built greenhouses so that they could grow vegetables and fruits without dependence on weather. Every village appointed two leaders, one male and one female.
Everyone in local administration took a leading role in the New Community Movement, participated actively in every initiative, and discussed the outcomes together. The movement also helped the status of women in Korean society, and made principal changes to the roles of women in executive positions.
The values of this movement were spirit, diligence, self-help, and cooperation. It changed the mindset of farmers.
Soon after the movement started, villagers saw increased income and adopted a tradition where they grew vegetables and rice together, and joined each other in events, whether it was a wedding or a funeral. They also had shared funds. It is noted by experts that the success of this movement is owed to the combination of a top-down approach from local government, where everyone participated actively in new initiatives, and a bottom-up approach, where citizens devoted their hearts to their efforts. As a result, the initiatives became larger projects that began from small ones.
Saemaul Undong spread to larger cities and allowed the residents to learn and work together. This is how the mindset that helped South Korea to achieve rapid development was formed.

MONGOLIA’S NEW COMMUNITY MOVEMENT

Saemaul Undong was initiated in Mongolia in 2004, with assistance from South Koreans. People who resided in a total of 65 properties in the 10th and 11th Altai Streets of the 4th khoroo in Nalaikh District first joined the movement and repaired the roads that connected them.
The initiative was supported by the district administration, and allowed a ger district in Mongolia to have a paved road for the first time. The cost of materials was covered by South Koreans, while the residents, a construction company, and soldiers worked together to build the road.
The residents also dug a well, established a public bathhouse, and built a greenhouse allowing households to learn to grow vegetables.
The movement then spread to soums, provinces, and the other areas of Ulaanbaatar, and resulted in projects to build roads, greenhouses, libraries, and internet cafes. The New Community Movement now has 5,000 members from 16 provinces and the capital, and has their own training centers.
These projects have been implemented with annual funding of more than 100 million MNT from South Korea. In 2015, a program named “One Person, One Tree” was implemented with sponsorship from President Elbegdorj. As a result, 20,000 trees were planted this year.
However, this movement is still unable to engage with the wider population and involve everyone, as it did in Korea. The mindset of taking part in a community project only when there are direct advantages for the individual still dominates in our society.
An individualist mentality has spread in our society, and people are only focused on their own gains, and do not think about others. The top-down approach is not working as well because government officers are not putting true efforts into these initiatives.
Every time a project gets implemented with funding from Korea, our politicians are racing with each other to give a speech, cut ribbons, and take photos to contribute to their election campaign.
The development of a community will not progress in the absence of equal involvement from each household. When bags are not working together, it impacts the development of the nation. The first action for bags could be distinguishing the boundaries of their bag on a map.
The law says that a contract must be effective for up to 60 years. If families are clearly shown where their land and pasture are, they can take turns repairing one another’s winter and spring houses and start digging wells for the benefit of all.
Cooperation between households would allow greater efficiency in building fences, preparing hay, and preparing and selling fodder, meat, milk, wool, and cashmere. It would also increase the income of families. When livelihoods improve, people will no longer feel the need to move to urban areas.
Today, every household has electric power, a satellite antenna, and a mobile phone, which is a great advantage that did not exist in the post-Korean War era.
Mongolia is missing a government policy aimed at revising land relations to encourage communities to work together and develop businesses with competitive spirit. Also, the desire to work with each other in greater numbers is currently non-existent.

Trans. by B.AMAR

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=17321

Posted by on Dec 7 2015. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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