Ugandans urged on mindset change

By Lillian Namusoke Magezi

The Saemaul Undong model acknowledges the importance of changing people's mindset from dependency on donors and the Government to taking charge of their development.

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PIC: A clean compound. The local government minsitry has embacked on a smart home concept sensitisation aimed at improving the living conditions of people through ensuring that they have basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. (Lilian Namusoke Magezi)

KAMPALA - Ugandans have been urged to change their mindsets and start using locally-available resources to achieve sustainable development, instead of waiting for the Government or donors to give them funds to invest.

Local government state minister Jennifer Namuyangu said by taking charge of their development agendas, Ugandans will be able to achieve sustainable development that will eventually propel the country into middle-income status.

Namuyangu made the remarks while addressing journalists at the Protea Hotel in Kampala recently during a meeting, aimed at sensitising them about a community-based development strategy, which promotes development from the grassroots using local resources.

Namuyangu noted that the Saemaul Undong model, which is acknowledged for enabling South Korea achieve sustainable balanced economic growth and development, involves mobilising people to work towards transforming their rural areas.

The strategy emphasises the principles of community work, self-governance, self-help, diligence, time management and co-operation as the foundation for development.

In addition, it acknowledges the importance of changing people's mindset from dependency on donors and the Government to taking charge of their development.

According to Assumpta Ikiriza Tibawendwa, the technical adviser in the local government ministry, after realising the benefits of the Saemaul Undong model, Korea started promoting it in other parts of the world.

The current phase of the project, which started in 2015 and will go on until the end of the year and involves six countries. In addition to Uganda, the model is being implemented in Rwanda, Vietnam, Bolivia, Lao PDR and Myanmar.

In Uganda, the project is being implemented in 15 communities in Kabarole, Luuka and Maracha districts, where it is being co-ordinated by the local government ministry, UNDP and the Korea International Co-operation Agency (KOICA).

The model involves improving the basic living conditions of the people, improving access roads and bigger community projects, such as building village roads, schools, health centres and libraries.

When it comes to improving basic living conditions, Tibawendwa disclosed that 2,325 households have embraced the smarthome concept, under which they ensure basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. These include having bathrooms and latrines with covers and handwashing facilities, improving the quality of the kitchens by installing eco-stoves, instead of using firewood, in addition to having doors with locks and houses with proper ventilation.

They are also expected to construct animal sheds and not share accommodation with animals, in addition to keeping their compounds clean. In addition to the homes, the smarthome concept has also been extended to markets, towns and health centres.

Because the model discourages individualism, residents have had to work with their local leaders to clean their localities, improve roads, rehabilitate their homes and establish income-generating projects, especially in agriculture.

Tibawendwa explained that the only thing the implementing stakeholders do is to provide the villages with capacity building trainings and workshops for motivation and knowledge sharing.

Namuyangu said the strength of this model lies in the fact that it  involves the whole community and promotes the use of indigenous solutions for rural transformation. Therefore, the beneficiaries feel a sense of ownership since they come together to identify their needs, what they want to do and they use their resources. The communities also use locally available resources means the cost of the project is low.