AN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL FACTORS AFFECTING COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Over the years, Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo state has been experiencing a slow rate of development in the area. Based on this therefore, this work was designed to investigate the socio-economic and cultural factors militating against rural development in Ideato North Local Government Area. Two hundred respondents were randomly selected and used. Questionnaire was the instrument used for data collection. The data collected were analysed using SPSS and chi-square, tables, charts and percentages were used to present the results. Several findings were made as regards socio-economic and cultural factors militating against rural development in Ideato North LGA. One major factor is that Ideato people are facing total neglect from the government which goes a long way in affecting their development negatively. Secondly, cultural belief system of the people also affects their development. Thirdly, inadequate planning of developmental projects caused by lack of collaborative efforts of the government and the youths also hinder development in Ideato North LGA. Finally it was recommended that government should focus more attention in the development of rural areas in order not to allow them feel neglected and rejected. Rural people should learn to welcome and harness development despite their cultural belief system and there should be a collaborative effort of the government and the people, more especially the youths in planning and implementation of rural development projects.
1.1 Background to the Study
In Nigeria, the rural areas are not progressing in line with urban areas or metropolitan states in term having sustainable development like good road, electricity, good telecommunication, transportation, good water supply, standard market and health centres, improved housing as well as improved agricultural and storage facilities that would help in sustaining the rural masses. McKnight (1995) defined the term rural development as the overall development of rural areas to improve the quality of life of the rural people. According to Ehumadu (2003), rural development is the process of economic and social progress aimed at eradicating poverty among rural populace through provision of life and satisfying the basic needs of the people. Eradicating poverty among rural people demands appropriate skill. Rural people are endowed with quantum of knowledge and traditional skills, but at their primitive levels, that needs development to fit in properly with the modern trends of thing (Stall & Stoecker, 1998). This can be achieved through capacity building programmes. Capacity building is the process of developing skill, ability and faculties individually and collectively, that is vital in comprehending rural development and its roles in ameliorating rural poverty, ignorance, low human skill and literacy (Castelloe, 2002). All these are done to sustain the development of rural setting. Sustainable development vector (i.e. elements of desirable social objectives or attributes which societies seek to achieve through conserving natural resources (Pearce & Barbier, 1999).
Most rural societies are not able to achieve development because they lack the basic resources that would bring development or they are not able to harness and utilize the existing resources that would enable them develop their society (Robinovitch, 1994). In Nigeria, this has been serious social issue in recent time.
Socioeconomically, infrastructure and basic amenities like good road, portable water supply, electricity, health centres, markets, transportation, telecommunication, sports centers etc. affect development. This is true because, when all these essential things are lacking, development can hardly come or occur. Other important factors are illiteracy, ignorance and poverty. On the other hand, government neglect can also affect developmental process that will take place in the rural areas.
Culturally, belief system of the rural people bridge development, for example, they find it difficult to release a particularly and for development due to the belief that it is on that land sacrifices are being made for the gods of their land, secondly they find it difficult to release a particular land for development to avoid the destruction of their aesthetic values like trees and other things that bring about the beauty of their area. Another cultural factor is on land tenure system (ownership of land). This implies that some land owners in the rural areas do not like releasing or letting go of their land for building of factories, schools, market, churches, health centres etc. by the government or even private individuals who are capable of doing so. By so doing, development is swept under the carpet. Fear of terror and labelling are another vital cultural factor which affect development, for example, an individual who is financially capable can withdraw his intention to develop a particular rural area due to the fear of getting him killed by armed robber and evil men or being labelled a fraudster and also a ritualist.
Rural development is a multidimensional and comprehensive concept; it encompasses the development of agriculture and allied activities, village and cottage industries and crafts, socio-economic infrastructure, community services and facilities and above all, human resources in rural areas. As a phenomenon, rural development is the end result of interactions between various physical, technological, economic, socio-cultural and institutional factors (Isife, 1998). According to Igbokwe (2000), rural development is a strategy designed to improve the economic and social wellbeing of a specific group of people, i.e., the rural poor. As a discipline, it is multidisciplinary in nature, representing an intersection of agriculture, social, behavioural, engineering and management sciences (Kata Singh, 1999). Problems of rural areas could come as a result of the already stated factors, most importantly, on the area of deliberate neglect of the rural areas by the government. According to Prilleltensky (2004), rural development problems come as a result of governmental deliberate neglect or inability of the rural community to welcome development due to their cultural belief system etc. According to rural development strategies 2002, through rural development strategies, efforts of the people and that of the government are brought together to improve the economic social and cultural conditions of the rural areas, so as to integrate them into the life of the nation and allow them to enable their people contribute more to national growth. Falcoya, (1984) on the other hand stated that rural development strategies created an avenue for rural people to organize themselves for a planning actions, define their common individual plans to meet the needs of the community and solve their problems, execute these plans with maximum reliance upon community resources and supplement these resources when necessary with services and materials from government and non-governmental agencies outside their communities.
In addition, the issues concerning rural development should be government involved as well as rural dwellers involved so as to achieve a better solution to rural problems. That is to say that in order to achieve a better rural development in Ideato LGA, government and the rural people should integrate their efforts together. The study therefore tries looking into the socio-economic and cultural factors militating against development in Ideato Local Government Area of Imo State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The issue of rural development is very challenging, considering that more than 70 percent of the population live in the rural areas, where they cultivate the soil to make a living. Looking at this poverty level it therefore becomes a social problem that demands urgent solution. One major factor affecting rural development is government neglect or government not showing concern towards rural development. According to Nwankpa (2001), government should play pivotal role to making sure that development occur in the rural setting. Another important factor is on lack of basic infrastructure and basic amenities needed for development such as transportation, good roads, electricity, good school, portable water, health centres, markets, telecommunication, churches, recreational centres etc. When all these infrastructures and basic amenities are not available in a particular rural area, development finds it difficult to occur. Illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty serve as another important factor militating against rural development in Ideato rural community, Illiteracy, poverty and ignorance make or flop the developmental process in the rural areas, so making them to move backward (Edeh, 2003). Rural dispute is another factor militating against rural development. This implies that when dispute comes between two communities due to land, government who has planned bringing development can decide to withdraw it till the dispute or conflict is settled. Land tenure system as well as inability of the rural people to harnessing the available resources contributes to the backwardness of the rural areas, especially rural, Ideato.
Furthermore, cultural beliefs of the people in the rural areas affect the development that will come therein, for example some rural areas always find it difficult to give government land for development due to the fact that the land is where sacrifices are made for the gods of their land. Another fear they have is the destruction of theiraesthetic values by the government while the development projects are going on. Some individuals due to their selfish interest, find it difficult to dispose their land to the government for them to build structures like hospitals, schools, churches, recreational centres etc. According to Iyiogwe (2005), in his work on economic theory says land is free gift of nature, such as land surface, soil, rivers, mountains, forest, mineral deposits etc. Okorji (2005) restated that land is therefore nature’s aid to production. Another cultural factor is the fear of terror and labelling. some private individuals avoid helping people in some developmental structures in the rural area in order not to get them killed or labelled as criminals, fraudsters or as ritualists by the rural people.
More so, the problem of gender segregation is another crucial factor to be considered while discussing on the cultural factor militating against rural development. The reason is that sometimes women in the rural areas are not allowed to contribute in the issues concerning rural or community development. By so doing, the ideas of development becomes one sided which in turn affects the developmental processes. Women should be allowed to contribute in the developmental issues, whether political, economic, social and cultural. (Egbule, 2006)
Based on statistics, 65 percent of the lands in the rural areas are undeveloped due to total dominance by the owners. According to Ikpeama (2004), land is a free gift of nature, and development of any kind should be done on it, in as much as it will change the living standard of the people. 85 percent of our rural dwellers are not living in comfortable homes, while 95 percent of them are poor (Hossian, 2005). According to agricultural organization of the United Nations (2005), 95 per cent of the rural farmers cannot boast of using modern farming implements in their agriculture. All these hindrances have continued to put the rural communities under a shackle of underdevelopment, in spite of the abundant human talents there in. this unavailability of basic economic infrastructure in the rural communities, hinders their potentials, especially being unable to generate enough for themselves and contribute to the nation’s economic growth. Rural dwellers should be encouraged in their agricultural endeavours, which will in turn help in the nation’s economic building (Preben Kaarshelin, 1991). When all these socio-economic and cultural factors that affect rural development are put in place, there will be a rapid rural development, especially in Ideato Local Government Area of Imo State.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions will guide the study
1. What are the socio-economic factors that hinder rural development in Ideato Local Government Area?
2. What are the cultural factors that hinder rural development in Ideato LGA?
3. What are the reactions of people to development in Ideato LGA?
4. To what extent have rural dwellers helped in facilitating rural development in Ideato LGA?
5. What are the consequences of improper rural development in Ideato LGA?