The rural poor are really non-beneficiaries of the enormous development efforts of the past three decades. This study is aimed at assessing community participation in rural development projects in Sapele LGA, Delta state. Data were generated from both primary and secondary sources. The study adopted a multi-stage sampling technique of which first, among the five districts, four were purposively selected while second stage, the communities in each district were arranged alphabetically and every third community systematically selected. The study made use of 381 samples which were proportionately distributed according to population size among the selected four districts. The study made use of descriptive and inferential statistical techniques. The descriptive method involved the use of mean, percentages and frequency distribution for the summarization of the data. The Pearson Chi square analytical technique adopted to test level of significant relationship that exist between community participation and project planning process and implementation or result has a p-value of 0.0001 which shows a significant relationship. The findings also revealed that 60% of the respondents agreed that community participation is an effective tool for rural development projects. The study also established that community participation is an important element for speedy socioeconomic advancement of the rural communities. It is recommended therefore that beneficiaries of any rural development project should be mobilized and sensitized to benefit of community participation in Sapele LGA and rural projects generally, selflessness and service to humanity should be fostered by traditional authorities and NGO focusing on women should be deliberately organized to channel women empowerment and participation.
1.1Background to the Study
Rural development from a general point of view is the process of improving the quality of life and economic wellbeing of people living in relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas (Moseley, 2003) which are also known as rural areas. However, despite strategies put in place in form of projects provided for rural people, many do not benefit because of their non-involvement in the project planning process and implementation hence, the emphasis on community participation in rural development project.
Rural development is more realistic when people participate in the process of infrastructure provision because at the heart of rural development projects are infrastructures and for the overall goals and objectives to be met, the principle for effective community participation must be adapted (Idachaba and Bankole, 2006).
Community participation as a development approach for rural socioeconomic development is an alternative to the top – down approach which has failed to yield the desired result because rural dwellers who are target beneficiaries were not carried along initially (Bankole, 2007). The term has been conceptualized in different ways in the literature as either public, people or citizen participation, however they all have the same focus, which is rural development (Oakley, 1991 and Afolayan, 2008). Participation is all about inclusiveness, social justice and common good which shows that rural development is community based when people in communities determine their needs and aspiration.