CHALLENGES OF RURAL AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background of the Study
The concept of community and Rural Development (CRD) as an alternative strategy to overall development of the economy, have become a world-wide acceptable phenomena in both developed and developing countries. Particularly during the last three decades, there is hardly any state policy or programmes that does not touch or have a direct bearing on the rural sector.
In Nigerian, present and past governments (central, state and local) level formulated a good numbers of policies and programes with rural focus and implications for improving rural life and the participation for rural people in National development and progress. Some examples will be mentioned and in chapter two of this research.
As noted by Abah (2000: 152) the dichotomy between urban and rural areas in terms of development can be traced back to the colonial days when Government Reservation Areas (GRAs) where established at various stations. When the urban Acts were used to seize local lands for white settlement and when the introduction of the capitalist mode of production ted to the designation of some settlements.
Like the rest of developing countries a bulk of the Nigerian wealth is derived from agriculture and oil which lies in abound quantity in rural communities. The percentage contribution of agriculture to gross domestic product steadily declined from 1972 due to the less attention paid to the rural sectoral development. (16% in 1970, to 15.7% in 1971 it becomes clear that despite our high level of urbanization, Nigeria remains largely rural. Thus, there is the realization that a dangerous gap exists in the development levels of both the urban and rural areas threatens the political and social stability of the country. Hence, the development of a country cannot be completed with the singular act of developing the urban areas at the detriment of the rural area, which supplies to the urban areas with food and labour.
Contemporarily, rural community development has become a national impetrative in Nigeria./ thus, the importance of rural community development in contemporary Nigeria society cannot be overemphasized, as much as it cannot be relegated to the background: as it’s significance stems from its recognized role in the process of achieving the improvement of economic, political, social and cultural conditions of the communities. Finally, rural community development is one of the major plank upon which national development policies and their implementation are hinged.
1.2 State of the Problems
The goal of development planning in Nigeria is the achievement of rapid increase in the nations productive capacity with a view to improving the standards of living of the people. As it relates to rural areas, promotion of economic growth and the provision of social amenities to enhance the standards of living of the rural people (Abah, 2000:152).
Despite the efforts made in the past to effect development at the rural areas, the conditions of the rural dwellers have not improved, rather they have further deteriorated. As Idike A.A. citied in Abah (2000: 152) noted the rural areas, are areas of depression, degradation and deprivation, children with distended tummies and spindly legs are a common sight and both these children, their siblings and their parents are often oblivious of a better miler.
“The rural population constitutes the Nigeria peasantry, the Nigerian poor and the country’s largest illiterate groups. Their typology that Frautz Fanon referred to as “the wretched of the earth”, whose endless striving for survival has not been helped by low incomes, inadequate infrastructure, lack of industry and lack of innovations.
The major problems of rural community development in Nigerian are:
- Non-implementation of projects
- Leadership factors
- Insufficiency of financial resources
- Intra-and inter-communal Disputes
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to find out the problems affecting effective development of Ukehe community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area. Specifically, the research is aimed at finding out:
1) To find out who plans community development projects in Ukehe
2) To find out the extent to which the projects being implemented in are in Ukehe line with the felt needs of the community members
3) To find out how the community development projects are financed in Ukehe.
4) To find out the major challenges affecting smooth implementation of community development projects in Ukehe
5) To Recommend ways and means of encouraging effective participation in community development.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions are designed to guide the researcher in study
1) Who plans community development in Ukehe?
2) Are the objectives of community development in Ukehe in line with the felt needs of the people?
3) How are the community development projects in Ukehe financed?
4) What are the major challenges affecting smooth implementation of community development projects in Ukehe?
5) What are the way/mean of encouraging effective participation of Ukehe people in community development projects.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The present poor performance of Ukehe members in the implementation of rural and community development projects inspired the researcher to investigate into the factors that constitute the problems of implementation of community development project as against the interest and progress of the community.
The finding of this study will draw out much needed information that would go a long way to stipulating community development workers, the government and Ukehe community in taking active parts in community development.
It will also help to explore all positive avenues for cooperation among community members with the conscious intention of improving the socio-economic and cultural status of Ukehe people. The data collected would serve as a guide in directing and assenting community members in their planning, execution and evaluation of community development projects.
The study should also suggest ways of ensuring effective management, by ensuring checks and balances in the development committees, in order to check poor accountability and embezzlement of public funds.
Finally, the research will provide judicious application of priority method to avoid unnecessary duplication of projects and device effective utilization of already completed projects and also create process of identifying projects that reflects felt-needs of the people.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The researcher focused on the abandoned and incomplete projects in Ukehe, such projects include the abandoned erection of stalls in the Ogbede, Eke-Ugwu and Eke Achara markets in Ukehe and the uncompleted civil centers in some major villages like, Uwelle-Amakofia, Amadim, Umuofiagu and Umurusi villages all in Ukehe community.
The scope therefore rests on the activities of Ukehe development Unions/communities in the entire villages of Ukehe in order to identify the problems of community development projects in Ukehe.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The study is limited in scope because of underlisted factors.
It is a well-known fact that a study of this nature usually consumes large sum of money. It is very unfortunate that these days institution do not sponsor student’s project rather students are made to bear the entire cost. Thus, the study is expected to consume a lot of money for a detailed study and non availability of fund prevented the researcher from embarking on the study of the whole local government area or state.
As a familied man, with a lot of responsibilities, the researcher found it cumbersome to combine his daily responsibilities with the study.
c. Literacy Level
The literacy level of some of Ukehe communities is highly discouraging in carrying out a study of this magnitude. As a result, problems were encountered in the completion of the questionnaire.
Many respondents displayed a great deal of apathy in answering questions. This reduced the possibility of completed avoidance of bias on the side of the respondents.
1.8 Definition of Terms/Concepts
The following terms/concepts require a clear definition for better understanding and comprehension of this study. They are:
- Community Development
- Community action
- Felt need
- Rural Development
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary New Edition, define rural as connected with or like the countryside. The rural society is marked by relative predominance of agricultural occupation, by the closeness of the people to natural environment.
A community is a group of individual who share a common interest or a set of functions. It is viewed in terms of all the people or a group of people living within a specific geographical area (Anikeze, 2011: 416). Community is a relatively small isolated center with a stable population in which all economic and social services necessary for life can be realized. Thus a community can be seen as a phase where people live. It could be urban or rural.
Development is the ability of the people to apply and use their capabilities and resources to solve the environmental and other problems.
d) Community Development
This is a process whereby communities come together to perform various functions in order to give a face-life to their immediate environment or communities.
e) Community Action
Community Development is aimed at community action. Community action is a phenomenon that recommends that community members resolve their problems by directly participating in development activities.
Felt need is the need amongst these needs that require priority or immediate attention.
g) Rural Development
This is a strategy designed to improve the economic and social conditions of a specific group of people, the rural poor. It involves extending the benefits of development to the poorest among those who seek livelihood in the rural area.