This study attempt to examine the impact of self-help projects in rural development using Irepodun Local Government Area as a case study, Ekiti State, Nigeria. A sample of 200 respondents was interviewed through the use of questionnaire format. In the course of the study, it was revealed that income encouraged the people to embark on self help projects. Community unions/association contributed immensely in the execution of self help projects and the subsequent rural development. The Chi-square and correlation results, concluded that the inhabitants of the area are not equally satisfied with self help projects and amenities and that there is a relationship between population and self help projects and also that self help projects has increased the standard of living of the people in the area. There is an unequal distribution of self help projects in the study area. And since the level and efficiency of self help projects on rural communities normally influence the development of the rural areas, governments should therefore redirect its rural development towards capital and developmental projects in rural areas and make population be the focus for all communities in the rural areas. This will ensure an equitable distribution of self help projects an essential tool for balanced socio-economic development of the rural areas especially in Nigeria.
Background of the Study
The idea of self help and communal assistance which forms the basis of the present day community and rural development among the rural dwellers is deeply rooted in the rich traditions of the African people in which evidences abound of how communities have, for generation successfully organized themselves to construct roads, build bridges, palaces, market stall, dwelling house among many others (Ekpomban, 2006). A self help according to Igozurike (2007) may be viewed as a regional resources mobilization system in which of the conception initiative and best of the exceptional responsibility rest with the occupants of the region or community concerned. Self help could also be defined as the theory that individuals provide for their even support and improvement in society or the act of providing for or improving oneself (illustrated Oxford Dictionary). Idachaba and Atte (2004) conceive rural development not only in terms of agricultural and economic growth but as the creation of fair sharing of social and economic benefits. Mabugunge (2000) on the other sees rural development as a systematic attempt at re-organizing and mobilizing the rural masses in order to improve their capacity to cope effectively with their daily tasks and with the concomitant changes. This is done through the provision of basic infrastructure to improve rural accessibility and the participation and perception of the rural people in their own affairs. Self help in the content of rural development is therefore the carrying out of developmental and capital projects in the rural areas through community participation. It is a shift from the earlier rural development policy which was preoccupied with generation of food and fiber surpluses to over all formulation of a national rural development strategy with emphasis on the alleviation of rural poverty and enhancement of the quality of rural life.
Programmes on self help projects in Nigeria are basically an attempt to reduce poverty and satisfying basic needs. Thus, successful self help projects in rural development in Nigeria will implies the acceleration of the pace of developing the rural areas, through the provision of basic needs and necessary amenities like water supply, electricity, job opportunities, development of settlement schemes and feeder roads (Onibokun, 2006).
Government grant aided self help as a strategy for community and rural development was given a greater prominence in the third National Development Plan for community development was incorporated into the framework of the National Development Plan. As mentioned in the plan, activities in the sector of community and rural development will take the form of self-help project by various communities under the agencies of their local.
Statement of the problem
Until recently, the belief among most Nigerian communities was that it was the sole responsibility of the government and its agencies to provide the needs of their communities. In other words government should develop the community by providing the entire necessary infrastructure and social and physical amenities (Onibokun, 1976). Consequently social amenities are lacking in most rural areas. However the degree or level of infrastrural problems facing rural areas varies from one place to another. Therefore in order to arrive at policy issues that could be applicable to specific regions of Nigeria, the following research questions needed to be answered by this study:
- How do the rural people conceive, perceive and carry out a self help project to boost the development of their immediate local environment?
- What are the conditions and degree of self help projects that will increase the standard of living of the people of the study area?
- How do the people of the study area contribute physically and financially towards self help projects?
- Thus, the need to assess the roles and impacts of self help projects on the rural development of the study area forms the major focus of this study.
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