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INVOLVEMENT OF RURAL WOMEN IN EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMMES FOR POVERTY ERADICATION
ANAMBRA STATE OF NIGERIA. AS CASE STUDY
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Background of the study
Poverty has been a long standing threat to the progress and well being of humanity. Poverty is not only peculiar to Anambra state but the world at large. Agreeably, the problem of poverty is so enormous that its eradication or elimination remains a priority to the various governments of the third world countries. According to World Bank, (2000) in Africa, for example, over 200 million people are wallowing in abject poverty. About 45 to 50 percent of sub-Saharan Africans live below international poverty line of one American dollar per day.
To underscore the international concern for this problem, the United Nations declared 1996 international year for the eradication of poverty, October 17th each year has also been set aside as international day for the eradication of poverty World wide. The decade 1997-2006 was also declared United Nations Decade for eradication of poverty.
In Nigeria, majority of the people are poor despite the great human and natural endowment. Supporting this assertion National Planning Commission, (NPC) (2004) stated that about two –thirds of Nigerian people are poor, despite living in a country with vast potentials. Although revenues from crude oil have been increasing over the past decades, the people have been failing deeper into poverty. According to the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) poverty profile (2011),the rising profile of Poverty is assuming a worrisome dimension.
Also, the central bank of Nigeria Poverty Assessment Report, (2000) reveals that by 1960, 15 percent of the population were living in one form of poverty or the other , by 1980, the number of those living in poverty has risen to 28 percent. Ezekwesili, (2013), lamenting on the high rate of poverty in the country, says that Nigerians had lost dignity because of ravaging poverty arising from poor choices of the elites, corruption and lack of investment in education. Ezekwesili described Nigeria as a paradox of kind of wealth that breeds penury. She traced the trend of Nigerians population in poverty since 1980 to 2010, and observed that the more we earned from oil, the larger the population of poor citizens. World Bank report (2002) also noted that poverty is on the increase in Nigeria.
Poverty means different things to different people. According to Clause as quoted in Ihejirika, (2011) poverty connotes very poor level of living, inaccessibility of social, infrastructural and educational facilities from which people can benefit from their individual or collective development. Poverty is a complex multidimensional problem, which has to do with lack of control over resources including land, skills, knowledge, capital and social connections. Ihejirika (2011) says that poverty in Nigeria assumes a wider dimension in rural areas, where the larger populace live mainly as small scale farmers, fisher men and women, herdsmen etc. This was supported by UNDP (2004) which attest that poverty is more pronounced in rural areas and women are mostly affected.
As a result of high rate of poverty in the country; the federal government came up with elaborate poverty eradication programmes such as Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructures (DFRRI-1995); Community Action Programmes for Poverty Alleviation (CAPPA-1996); National Agricultural land Development Authority (NALDA-1973), Better life for Rural Women (BLFRW-1986), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP-1997) among others.
Again, Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) was introduced in 2000, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in 2001 it Recently, National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) was introduced in 2004, with the following strategies: Stimulating the private sector; fighting corruption and protecting vulnerable groups in our society which include; rural poor women. The NEEDS operates at federal level with objectives which include; poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation (NPC 2004).
The Anambra State poverty Eradication programme was established in 2001 and has the following objectives:
- Employment creation
- To improve basic services, infrastructure, housing facilities of the populace targeting poor households.
iii. Extending access to credit and farm inputs to farmers etc.
- Increase in Primary School enrolment and attendance.
- Increase in ante-natal care, child welfare clinic and immunization (Anambra State Ministry of Economic planning, Conditioners Cash Transfer (CCT Report, 2013).
Anambra State Government in an efforts to alleviate poverty in the state introduced a lot of other strategies such as establishing partnership with international organizations like European Union (EU), United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the provision of infrastructural facilities such as Pipe-borne water, health facilities, Agricultural inputs, renovation of schools etc. Porgarmmes like women in ANIDS Micro-finance, targeting, poor women, female-caregivers of orphans and children, Women fund for Economic Empowerment (WFEE), Poverty Mapping targeting poor households in the poorest local government areas in the state, Women Empowerment scheme (WES) among others were aimed at poverty eradication in the state.
Anambra State has had disproportionate share of the Socio-economic and political crises that have characterized Nigeria’s history as a nation. Apart from the general neglect and mismanagement that characterized military governance in Nigeria, other problems include: a more appalling corruption and mismanagement by successive civilian administrators in the state, armed conflicts in some parts of the state notably, Aguleri and Umuleri, protracted industrial unrest and labour problems and more recently, unprecedented forms of political instability and tension. All these problems have devastating effect on the state’s. drive to towards poverty alleviation of her citizens. Expectedly, these years of crises coupled with their adverse effects on socio-economic development and livelihood of the state, resulted in the incidence of poverty increase from 32.2% in 1996 to 63.5 in 2011 (Anambra UNDP Office, poverty profile). Enrolment in public schools stagnated, literacy for individual’s 15 years and above is believed to have equally declined. The report show that the proportion of individuals with safe drinking water declined due mainly to the near total collapse of public water facilities, similarly very few people have access to good roads, access to sanitary means of excreta disposal, more especially in rural areas. There was noticeable decline in average household income more especially among rural women. Similarity, despite the decline in most of the social indicators, the near-neglect of rural women’s involvement in agriculture, access to productive resources, access to infrastructural facilities and access to credit facilities seem to be the major causes of poverty in Anambra State.
The approach to poverty alleviation as expressed in most of the past poverty alleviation programmes in Anambra State view the poor as expected to benefit from the “trickle-down effects” of the process of development. But this has not been the case. This missing link is in the policy articulation, formulation and implementation. The major causes of failures of all poverty alleviation schemes in Nigeria is that, the poor members of the community, whom the scheme is meant for, had neither input in the policy planning and execution nor were there involved in monitoring and evaluation of the programmes. Also the non-involvement of the people imposes the twin problem of accountability and transparency in the implementation of the schemes (Patrick 2006).
Consequently, in developing countries like Nigeria rural women are the poorest and more vulnerable to poverty. According to World Bank (2000) and Deman (2003) this incidence of poverty among women remains on the increase, and women in rural areas are more affected adversely than men. Rural women are characterized by abject poverty, illiteracy, poor health, lack of skills, lack of decent housing and poor access to information and many others; Onuigbo, (2001). Rural areas lack of modern amenities such as good roads, portable water, light, telephone and other conveniences seem to the major problems of rural women in Anambra State.
These situations do not enhance women involvement in any poverty alleviation programme. According to FAO, (2011) women involvement in agriculture, access to productive resources, access to infrastructures and access to credit facilities are necessary areas to involve the women if their poverty must be eradicated. Agriculture is a means to eradicate extreme poverty, especially for rural women. Increases in agricultural productivity are central to growth, income distribution; improved food security and alleviation of poverty in rural Africa (Yemisi and Asiha, 2009). Women produced two thirds of the food crops, yet they are not involved in key farm management decisions (World Bank 2003). Rural Women’s non involvement in farm management decision making leads to difficulties in the assessment of productive resources that will enhance their agriculture.
Inaccessibility to productive resources has been the bane of women participation in poverty eradication programmes in Nigeria. Different rules, norms and values govern the gender, division of labour and gender distribution of resources, responsibilities, agency and power (Yemisi and Asiha, 2009). These are critical elements that limit women access to productive resources. Lack of access to productive resources such as land is one of the causes of poverty in rural areas. In Anambra State most of the rural women do not have access to enough land for cultivation and this limits their agricultural production.
The poor state of infrastructures such as roads, pipe-born water, electricity, health facilities, transportations, telecommunications etc impede any meaningful contribution women would have made to agriculture .According to UNDP (2011)rural women’s poor access to infrastructure in rural areas limits their opportunities to reduce poverty and hunger. In rural communities in Anambra State, these social amenities are seriously lacking and this has affected their involvement in poverty reduction.
The importance of credit facilities to poverty reduction cannot be over-emphasized. This was revealed by Central Bank of Nigeria (2005) that a robust economic growth cannot be achieved without providing access to credit to boost execution of programmes. Rural women are bad customers to formal money lending institutions, because of their inability to provide collateral securities (Edioomo; and Iboro, 2010). Credit facility seems inadequate in rural communities in Anambra State, and this has limited rural women’s involvement in poverty eradication.
There are many factors which militate against rural women’s contribution to poverty reduction in Anambra State. They include: absence of property and inheritance rights, family responsibilities, socio-cultural norms, illiteracy, tight time schedule, low self-esteem, lack of motivation from their husbands, low participation of women in politics and corrupt government officials (Deman, 2003, USAID, 2003, World Bank, 2008).
There is need for sensitivity on the social cultural barriers that may inhibit women involvement in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State. It is against this background that this research seeks to investigate the extent of involvement of rural women in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State.
Statement of the Problem
Evidence has shown that active involvement of rural women in poverty eradication programmes is vital to national development. This cannot be achieved without involving the women in agriculture, access to productive resources, infrastructures and credit facilities. If this is not done women’s contribution to poverty eradication and national development will be minimal and insignificant.
Many factors seem to hinder the involvement of women in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State. Some of the factors include poor involvement in Agriculture, limited access to Topicive resources, limited access to infrastructures and inadequate credit facilities.
Regrettably, there seems to exist limited documentation which describe the extent of involvement of rural women in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State. It is against this background that this study sought to investigate the extent of involvement of rural women in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State.
Purpose of the Study
The main Purpose of the Study was to ascertain ways of involvement of rural Women in empowerment programmes for Poverty eradication in Anambra State. Specifically the study sought to determine the Anambra State government:
- Involvement of the rural women in Agricultural production programmes and poverty eradication in Anambra State.
- Involvement of rural women in access to agricultural productive resources and poverty eradication in Anambra State
- Involvement of rural Women in access to infrastructural facilities and poverty eradication programmes in Anambra State.
- Involvement of rural women in access to credit facilities and poverty eradication programmes in Anambra State.
- To investigate the factors militating against rural women’s involvement in empowerment progrmmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State.
Significance of the Study
The findings of the study will be of benefits to adult educators, community development workers and development partners, policy makers, administrators, Anambra State government, consultants and researchers.
The findings will help the adult educators to involve more rural women in their adult literacy programmes by directing such programmes towards the functional literacy of rural women in Anambra State. Equally, community development workers and development partners will make use of the findings of the research by actively involving the rural women in poverty eradication programme formulation and implementation.
The study will be of benefits to policy makers and administrators, as this will serve as a guide to them in formulating polices and designing programmes that will improve the lives of the rural women. The study will be useful to Anambra State government by helping it to be including women in future poverty eradication programmes. The study will be particularly useful to consultants and researchers in adult education department and other related courses in the university, who may be carrying out similar research in the future.
The following research questions have been posed for the study.
- To what extent does the government involve rural women in Agricultural production programme on poverty eradication in Anambra State?
- To what extent does the government involve the rural women in access to agricultural productive resources on poverty eradication in Anambra State?
- How does the government involve the rural women in access to infrastructural facilities on poverty eradication in Anambra State?
- In what ways does the government involve the rural women in access to credit facilities on poverty eradication in Anambra State.
- What are the factors militating against rural women’s involvement in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State.
Two null hypotheses were be tested in the study, as follow;
Ho1. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of government officials and rural women in access to credit facilities on poverty eradication in Anambra State
Ho2: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of government officials and rural women on factors militating against rural women’s involvement in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State.
Scope of the Study
The study was focused on the involvement of rural women in empowerment programmes for poverty eradication in Anambra State of Nigeria.
This study was limited to determining the extent to which rural women were involved in programmes on