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  • Background Information

Majority of Nigeria’s poor live in the rural areas and depend directly or indirectly on agriculture and its related activities while owning or controlling few physical productive assets (Amaechina and Eboh, 2006). In other words, the above statement shows that Agriculture (farming, forestry, fishing etc), in Nigeria, is practiced mostly by the poor in the rural areas. Consequently, it is from the rural areas that the products of forest such as fuel wood are shifted to the urban areas, where they are highly demanded. In return, the urban areas, offer some developmental services to the rural areas, and this cooperation creates multipronged linkages between the two areas. For instance, Garrett (2005), stated that rural and urban areas share many degrees of interactions; rural areas provide critical consumption goods for urban consumers, such as food, energy, low-cost land and labour, and unique experiences. Urban areas constitute the end market for rural production; provide professional services; offer diverse job opportunities; and generate resources for public and private investment in rural areas.

It is now widely recognized that there exists various forms of complementarities between the urban and the rural areas in every country. The various ways these two areas complement each other’s activities have created several linkages between them and these linkages have now been known as the rural-urban interdependence (Okpala, 2003).

The rural-urban interdependence especially on fuel wood portrays the linkages that exist between the two areas by critically considering the importance of fuel wood and the roles they play in supporting lives as well as regional development. Fuel wood, otherwise called firewood is simply wood cut for fuel. It is renewable energy source usually obtained from forest (FAO, 2010). According to World Energy Council (1999) fuel wood is primarily for cooking which accounts for about 60 percent of endorsed energy consumption of households in developing countries. For instance, in low income countries, the consumption of fuel wood energy by households is typically ten times the total consumption of commercial energies for other purposes (Denis, 1987).

Arnold (1998), noted that fuel wood is gotten from the forest. Forest includes all resources that can produce forest products. Topics like timber, fuel wood, charcoal, food, fruits, nuts, pharmaceutics, etc; and forest products services like watershed, erosion control and prevention, soil stabilization etc. Forest, which include all resources that can produce forest products, namely, woodland, scrubland, bush fallow, farm-bush, and trees on farms, as well as ecosystem dominated by trees, provide household with income, ensure food security, reduce the vulnerability of shocks and adversities and increase their well being (Arnold, 1998).

Heltberg and Bacon (2003) noted that fetching fuel wood from forest for sales provide considerable amount of employment to people to meet both economic and energy needs of households in rural and urban areas. It allows quick returns on investments and is often practiced in conjunction with agricultural activities.

Fuel wood represents a major item in the energy budget of the people of developing countries especially the rural communities (Akujor, 1988). For instance, about 40 percent of the rural population of Anambra state is involved in profitable gathering of fuel wood for sustainable livelihood in the state. (Anambra State Government, 2007). The environmental and economic importance of fuel wood for household energy source initiate rural-urban cooperation, which create various complementary activities that support regional development.

The various complementarities existing between rural and urban areas give rise to the development of rural–urban linkage, and the new perspective referred to as the rural–urban linkage development approach, is increasingly becoming the accepted approach (Okpala, 2003). Rural-urban linkage generally refers to the growing flow of public and private capital, people (migration and commuting) and goods (trade) between urban and rural areas. It is important to add to these the flow of ideas, information and diffusion of innovation on the management of the forest for sustainable provision of the resources and durable services for the benefit of both the rural and urban areas.

The issues included in the summary of UN-HABITAT (2003) resolutions, show that the old orthodoxy of a discrete and dichotomous approach to urban development as distinct from rural development no longer accords with reality, considering the complementary functions and flows of people, capital, goods and services, employment, information and technology between the two areas. This means that the consideration of rural development as completely distinct from urban development is no longer valid because it is now widely recognized that there exists an economic, social, and environmental interdependence between two areas. There is, therefore, the need for a balanced and mutually supportive approach to the development of the two areas. Also, there is a need to promote rural-urban linkage development approach, which posits urban and rural areas as the two ends of the human settlements continuum (Okpala, 2003). Thus, current discussion on the rural dimension of sustainable urban development should emphasize policies that are supportive of urbanization while addressing the challenge of increasing investment in the physical, economic and social infrastructure that are necessary to improve rural productivity and access to market (Tacoli, 1998).

Urban areas are created and further developed by the process of urbanization (Kubisch, 2007). As rapid urbanization of developing countries is inevitable, particularly amidst the phenomenon of globalization, the capital of cities and towns should be strengthened to enable them productively absorb excess rural population and to better manage urban development, while rural development should be based on policies that improve economic and social conditions of rural population and the need for the rural areas to contribute to  national economic growth through increased agricultural and non-agricultural productivity (Holland, 1991).

1.2  Problem Statement

Agriculture in the rural area is faced with a lot of challenges. Poor rural infrastructural problems such as poor transportation network, poor funding, poor policy formulation, poor marketing system etc, hinder the attainment of sustainable agriculture in the rural areas. Atkinson (2004), stated that an improved rural infrastructure is a necessary condition for improving productivity in rural areas and also for enhancing access to agricultural produce by both urban areas and the export market.

Poor and inadequate rural infrastructure alongside other challenges negatively affects rural productivity in the country and therefore hampers the flow of forest products such as fuel wood. The inability of fuel wood for cooking energy to meet the inter-regional demand, and also the failure of the people to recognize the environmental importance and economic relevance associated with the flow of fuel wood, could affect regional linkages, and could lead to a decline in opportunities and measures that can improve both the rural and urban livelihoods and environments (FAO, 1997).

A wide-ranging literature review, Snoxell (2005), concludes that there is no body of research specially focused on linkages between communities, nor is there a prevailing analytical framework for understanding these linkages, but if well understood and managed, the linkages between rural and urban areas could be the basis for a balanced regional development, which is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

A good number of studies have been carried out on forest, forestry and forest products, most of them are especially on agroforestry-benefits, economics and environmental degradation (Amaechina and Eboh 2006; Eboh and Achike, 1997, Agada, 2009), none of these studies has really looked into the rural-urban interdependence dimension on fuel wood for. This study therefore, aims to fill these gaps in knowledge.

1.3  Objective of the Study

The broad objective of the study is to assess rural-urban interdependence on fuel wood in Anambra state.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. describe the level of awareness of the importance of forest in both rural and urban areas of the state;
  2. identify the socio-economic factors that influence the output of the fuel wood gatherers in the study area;
  • describe rural-urban interdependence in terms of flow of fuel wood between the two areas;
  1. identify the factors that constrain the flow of fuel wood between the rural and urban areas;
  2. examine the socio-economic factors that influence the decision of the people to invest in forest development;
  3. proffer recommendations based on the findings.






1.4       Research Hypotheses.

Based on the stated objectives of the study, the following null hypotheses were tested:

  1. Socio-economic factors of the gatherers have no significant influence on the output of forest products.
  2. Socioeconomic factors do not have significant influence on the decision of the people to invest in forest development.
    • Justification of the Study:

The understanding of rural-urban linkages matters because it provides the basis for measures that can improve both urban and rural livelihoods and environments. Ignoring them means that important opportunities will be lost and in many cases it will also contribute to poor and marginal people’s hardship (Parr, 1990). There are urban initiatives that can better lives in the rural areas, and help support regional development. However, with a narrow urban centric approach, such initiatives are unlikely to be given the priority they desire (Richardson, 1979).

Knowledge of the linkages between the rural and urban economies would aid policymakers in addressing interrelated problems, such as declining economic opportunity in rural regions, which is often combined with losses in quality of life in urban areas with high rates of economic growth (Parr, 1990). The findings of this study will be useful by the ministry of agriculture in making related policies to enhance agricultural development and also the flow of its products between the rural and urban areas; the resea