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CHALLENGES OF SELF-HELP PROJECTS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES: A CASE OF IGBEAGU COMMUNITY IN IZZI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

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Topic Description

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ABSTRACT

This research work is on challenges of self-help projects in Igbeagu community in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Three research questions were formulated to guide the study. The researcher used Systems Theory to analyze the work. The researcher adopted the survey research design, and the main instrument for data collection was questionnaire. The population of the study consist of the people of Igbeagu community in Izzi Local Government of Ebonyi State and a sample of 120 respondents were purposely selected from the population. It was established in the study that self-help groups are making appreciable efforts in the task of contributing to community development in Igbeagu, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Based on the findings of the study, recommendations were made that:government at all levels should encourage communities to involve fully in all issues concerning their development, morally, financially and otherwise conventionally; that communities that are embarking on self-help projects should be encouraged by ways of financial and technical assistance from the government.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background of the Study

Historically, African societies, and human societies in general, have sought to improve their lot through self-help efforts otherwise known as community development activities (Osinubi, 2011). As such community development constitutes a part of the overall development strategy. Even before the advent of the colonial era, people had at different times in history organized themselves into groups and had employed combined resources to provide working facilities and bring about improvement in their respective localities (Osinubi, 2011). This has been a common experience particularly at times of great need, such as during catastrophe situations or emergency. Neighbours, relatives and friends help each other in times of need. At other times, the whole community comes together to work on common needs or problems which they may face. For instance, they may build local roads and bridges, clear farmlands, or form a neighbourhood watch group to defend against intruders, or even construct some public utility buildings, such as town halls, market stalls, schools and churches (Akinsorotan and Olujide, 2007).

One of the enduring and flourishing heritages of traditional African societies is their involvement in community development efforts. It has been an indigenous mechanism and technique employed by the people to identify their felt needs, choose what they want and take cooperative action to satisfy their needs. Development is all about change, which is to bring about significant and lasting change for the betterment of the well being of people. Development results in the improvement of the quality of life of members of a society. There are key principles such as participation at all levels, a holistic view to development and incorporation of social, political, economic and environmental aspects. A holistic view to development refers to the development of all parts of the society comprising both the urban centres and the rural areas (Bachmann, 2007).

In Nigeria, there is a necessity for the development of rural areas because the gap in economic and social development between urban and rural areas in Nigeria continues to widen leading to social crisis and dissatisfaction. Rural development 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 the development to the poorest among those who seek a livelihood in the rural area.

Some past attempts to achieve rural development in Nigeria failed due to the oil boom in the 1970s which gave people the wrong impression that government should cater for all their needs. This consequently relegated the self-help spirit to the background. However, the present economic reality in the country has made the people find a lasting solution to the social and economic problems of their communities, through Community Self-help Projects (Akinsorotan and Olujide, 2007).

Community self-help projects are very important intervention strategies for social empowerment, alleviation of poverty, income generation and provision of employment. They act as a catalyst for social development in the rural areas. Self-help projects in rural areas may consist of infrastructure projects such as water, sewer and solid waste, community facilities to housing, essential services such as health care, public safety and education, as well as affordable housing projects. In cities, these types of projects are typically planned ahead of need, and services are often provided by a single governmental body. In rural areas, however, services and infrastructure may be provided by a number of different entities, including non-profit corporations. Thus, the main idea of self-help projects and rural development is that a community should help itself by providing its felt needs (Okwakpam, 2010).

In many rural areas, lack of critical infrastructure limits other forms of community and economic development. Poor performance of government in meeting the socioeconomic quests of citizens has been identified as one of the reasons behind the proliferation of self-help projects.

It is in this regard that the rural community jointly complements or fills the shortcoming of government efforts in the development of the community. It is the belief, therefore, that through self-help projects, various communities can develop better.

1.2    Statement of the Problem

The transformation of rural environment has become the main challenge to the economic and social development of developing nations like Nigeria (Howarth, 2010). This challenge arises from the need to promote the welfare of the rural people so that they can acquire a better quality of rural people. This will lead to increase income, diversification of the economic base and expansion of the market potential of the people (Akhimen, 2005).

Consequently, between 1972 and 2002, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched successively five national rural development programmes with more than eight supportive schemes. The low level of infrastructural and human capital development of these rural areas is a clear sign of the weaknesses and ineffectiveness of these programmes and schemes. The decay and worsening rural conditions and the attendant increasing rural-urban migration are evident in the long years of neglect of these areas.

Despite the efforts made in the past to advance rural development, the conditions of the rural dwellers have not improved, rather they have further deteriorated. It is against this background that this study examines “challenges of self-help projects in Igboeze community in Izzi Local Government of Ebonyi State” . Since the federal, state and local government was “far” from the rural areas in terms of development and with the realization that government alone cannot provide all their needs, the people had to learn to “do-it themselves”. However, where government is properly playing its expected role, Self-Help activities should complement rural development, not replacing it.

1.3    Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this work is to assess the problems of self-help projects in rural communities. However the specific objectives are:

  • to identify and appraise the various kinds of community development in Igbeagu community.
  • to determine the various sources from which members of Igbeagu community fund their development projects and programmes.
  • to find out the level of involvement of various community groups in the socio-economic activities of their community.

1.4    Research Questions

The general objective of this work is to assess the problems of self-help projects in rural communities. However the specific objectives are:

  • what are the various kinds of community development in Igbeagu community?
  • What are the various sources from which members of Igbeagu community fund their development projects and programmes.
  • What is the level of involvement of various community groups in the socio-economic activities of their community.

1.5    Significance of the Study

One of the major problems facing any developing country like Nigeria is that of improving the living condition of the rural masses who constitute over 75% of her population. This study on rural community is concerned with looking at the best way of improving the political, social and economic needs of these rural communities. In such a process, the people identity their wellbeing and look for ways of assisting themselves through self-help.

As a result of the foregoing, this research provide an intellectual framework that will serve as a reference point in proffering panacea to the avalanche of challenges facing self-help projects execution in Igbeage community of Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and elsewhere, by the community actors, the scholars.

The capabilities of various community groups should be identified and put into effective use for the overall development of our rural communities and ultimately, the development of the country. This research as a result, focuses itself on the critical roles played by NGOs, the womenfolk, age-grades etc, in community development.

This research reveals the problems itself associated with self-help projects in our rural communities. This study is also significant in the sense that it take it places the women in the forefront of the development of their communities as against the past what they were relegated to the background.

This study does not lay claims to the air finality in its conclusion but rather prepares the ground for further research on this area of study thereby, expanding the frontiers of knowledge.

1.6    Limitations of the Study

This study was fraught with many difficulties, part of the difficulty was the paucity of find to carryout extensive research. The difficulty of sourcing library materials and inhibited strongly against the gathering of enough materials for the study.

In the course of the study the researcher also experienced difficulty in gaining access to various relevant authorities and personnel for interviews. The school library provided with little or no succor as there were very few relevant document to the study.

1.7    Scope of the Study

This is an intellectual excursion on the phenomenon of self-help projects in rural communities. It confines its academic interest on the geographical of a community called “Igbeagu community”, a community in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The study beams its searchlight on the encumbrances and impediments that bedevils the conception and the ultimate execution of self-help projects by members of the community of Igbeagu.

Additionally, the study confines its interest on various community groups that have bearings in self-help project implementation in rural communities.

1.8    Theoretical Framework

This study uses and adopts the “systems theory” the question that comes to mind at the first sight of systems theory is, what is a system? A system according to C.A leads (1981) is a grouping of separate but interdependent parts which form a complex whole to achieve some objectives. Ludwing Bertalanffy who is regarded as the father of the complex of elements standing in interaction.

From these definitions, it can deduced that system analysis emphasizes relationship to the whole rather than isolated parts.

According to the system approach rural area is a system in itself and a sub-system within the environment of the wider national economic system. Within itself as an open system, a rural area has its own subsystems of components and linkages. Rural social organizations and the forms of production and distribution processes make up the rural system of components and linkages (Okafor and Ohoherhoraye, 1986). The principal of the rural systems are therefore social, water, farmers and their families, products tools, traders, animals, natural vegetation, pathways, storage facilities, transport facilities, money, co-operatives (Hewes, 1974). Consequently, any meaningful and sustainable rural and community development strategy must take into cognizance the systemic nature of the areas and the complexity of their components in their relationships and attributes.

The implications of the systems-approach to sustainable rural/community development are numerous. The rural economy is also a system and each component of the rural economy is a sub-system of its own with its own components attributes and linkages. The major components of the rural system (using Nigeria for instance) are agriculture, local crafts and cottage industries, transportation network, markets, education and health institutions, social institutions and organization. This means that any meaningful community development programme must be via the multi-sectoral system approach (Ibietan, 2010).

 

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