AN EVALUATION OF THE COMMUNITY SELF HELP PROGRAMMES AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Rural community development through self-help approach is an age long social activity in our society. Even before the advent of the colonial administration, people had at different time in history, organized themselves into group and had employed communal resource to provide physical improvement and functional facilities in their respective localities. For example communal labour was employed in constructing homesteads, clearing farm lands, roads and even some public utility, building such as “Obas” palace, market stalls and town halls (Journal Central European Agriculture volume 7 2006).
Some past attempts to achieve rural development in Nigeria failed due to the oil boom in the 1970s which gives the people erroneous impression that government should provide all their needs. Consequently the spirit of self- help was relegated. 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 self-help approach. The community development association develop their rules and regulations themselves, plan and execute their programmes with very little or no interference from external bodies. Specifically their activities involves holding meetings to discuss their programmes and projects, identification of their felt needs, participation in their community development project activities through supplying of labour, contribution of money and ideas. Their focus is to enhance community infrastructure through improved education, access to more advance medical treatment, increased economic opportunities and myriads of small community development initiatives.
The use of self-help approach in community development is considered as a process of social action in which the people of the community organized themselves for planning action, making groups and individual plans to meet their needs and solve their problems. They execute the plans, with a maximum reliance upon community resources and effort. Self-help approach involve the fullest participation of all the members in the community. Participation of individual in rural development activities is an act of involving residents in a project which requires a democratic approach. The belief is that, all members make their contribution to those problems which affect them.
Self-help programmes as the term implies means voluntary activities undertaken by persons in their roles as ordinary citizen. It is the process that can meaningful tie programmes to people (sipegal 1968). Citizen participation in rural area is better carried out in conjunction with the inhabitants of the rural area for the purpose of sustainability.
Generally, rural areas in Nigeria are characterized by poor drainage system, low infrastructure services and social amenities, poor housing conditions, low income earners, and less Government projects to improve the social- economic lives of the people. Rural areas have not really felt the impact of Government since independence in Nigeria because the past government lack effective machinery for the implementation of rural development plans to make life meaningful to the rural inhabitants.
According to Lele Una (1995), rural development is improving the living standard of the masses of the low income population residing in the rural areas and making the process of their development self sustaining. The inability of government sponsored programmes to induce development in rural area brought about the thinking by the people of “helping themselves” in form of citizen participation. The principle underlying the self-help participation is to understand that Government resources are limited hence, the need to help themselves is by coming together as a group with their initiative and togetherness in other to better their live and the development of the community ( Paul Davidoff 1985).
The success of many rural development projects and programmes in many part of the world had been linked up with the use of participation of local group programmes designing, implementation and evaluation (Abenebichi 1982). The developments characterizing rural areas are enormous, hence this study is set out to examine the extend to which the people have intervened to help themselves through self- help approach.
One of the major problems of development in Ibiono ibom local Government Area is inadequate provision of basic rural infrastructural facilities. Since history reveals that 75% of the population in Ibiono is rural, it becomes imperative for the need of rural development.
According to Ekop (1993), an area that has adequate infrastructures is likely to be more developed them areas with less provision of such facilities. The inadequate provision of infrastructuring facilities and social services service is the major problem impending rural development in the study area. However, what is the level of intervention by the people themselves to reduce the magnitude of problem through self-help approach? The ensure to this question constituted the main objective of this investigation.