AN ASSESSMENT OF THE ROLE AND CHALLENGES OF NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA (Case study of selected NGOs in Benin City)
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigeria is predominantly a rural economy. If development is to take place and become self-sustaining, it must therefore, emphasis more on rural development. The core problems of widespread poverty, growing inequality, rapid population growth and rising unemployment all find their origins in the stagnation and too often retrogression of economic life in rural areas (Olatunbosun, 1995). Furthermore, most of the rural people are poor and disadvantaged. Their sufferings stem not only from low income but also from illiteracy, ill-health, ignorance and various kinds of deprivations.
It is universally acknowledged that rural areas are very important to a nation. They serve as the base for the production of food and fiber. They are also the major sources of capital formation for a country and a principal market for domestic manufactures. In general terms, the rural areas engage in primary activities that form the foundation of any economic development. Yet, despite the importance of the rural areas, they have been neglected for long (Lele, 2007). Usually, there is absence of infrastructures like (water, electricity supply and motorable roads) which improve quality of life. Indeed, the ongoing neglect of rural areas continues to widen the gap between the rural and urban areas regarding the levels of social and economic opportunities, physical development and available infrastructural services.
According to Abakare (1997), development planners have recognized the fact that the upliftment of the rural economy, vis-à-vis the rural poor and backward masses is a precondition for the overall development of the country. Successive development plans of the country, therefore emphasized on rural economic development. But in the implementation of the planned objectives, the success was rather limited due to some constraints, at the top of which was the lack of participation of the stakeholders-the rural dwellers, who hardly had any influence and control over development initiatives (Mabogunje, 2008). However, the purpose of this study is to examine the process of rural development in Nigeria with special attention to the role played and challenges encountered by non-governmental organizations in the process of rural development.
Many diverse types of bodies are now being described as NGOs. There is no generally accepted definition of an NGO and the term carries different connotations in different circumstances. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental features. Clearly an NGO must be independent from the direct control of any government. In addition, there are three other generally acceptable characteristics that exclude particular types of bodies from consideration. An NGO will not be constituted as a political party. It will be non-profit making and it will not be a criminal group, nor a violent group. However, an NGO is defined as an independent voluntary association of people acting together on a continuous basis, for some common purpose, other than achieving government office, making money or illegal activities (Okafor, 1985).
In the past few years or there about, there has been greater recognition of NGOs as important partners in rural development. The concept of rural development is conceived not only as community-centered but also people-centered which has also led to the redefinition of the role of the Non-Governmental Organizations in addressing rural development priorities. This stems from their ability to innovate and experiment with models of executing development programmes, effectively reaching out to under-served and difficult to reach areas and the marginalized sectors and groups of the society including the rural areas. NGO programmes and services exhibit qualities of being efficient and effective, client-centered, community based socially and culturally sensitive, gender responsive and sustainable (Okafor, 1985). In fact, in the past three decades, development agencies, like the World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP and European Union etc, prefer channeling development assistance through them to the Developing Countries because of their ability and capacity in executing sustainable development projects. The reason is that governments in the developing countries are actually not meeting the needs of their people. And the people on the other hand are completely dissatisfied (World Bank, 1995). Either the government is not aware of the people’s disenchantment or they pretend to be ignorant of the feelings of their people (World Bank, 1995). Therefore, it takes an outsider (NGO) to alert them of their responsibilities to their citizens especially the rural communities. In fact, on the whole, the role played by government in rural communities have in some or many ways failed at addressing the key issues in rural development.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Rural development is a comprehensive concept which addresses the general problems that militate against rural dwellers and affect the quality of rural life. It is concerned with measures which mobilize domestic resources including human resources, to boost production, stimulate employment, raise rural income, reduce poverty and improve the overall standards of living of rural dwellers. Rural development consists of a number of subsets which include agricultural development, rural industrialization development, quality education, health, rural housing and transportation programmes. Different kind of NGOs in Nigeria has intervene in these areas. This study is examining their (NGOs) role and challenges in the process of rural development.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the roles of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria.
- To examine the challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria.
- To determine the solutions to the issues of rural development in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the roles of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria?
- 2. What are the challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria?
- 3. What are the solutions to the issues of rural development in Nigeria?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
- The results from this study will educate the general public on the roles and challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria. It will also reveal the way out of the issue of rural underdevelopment.
- This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will cover the role and challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work