THE EFFECT OF RURAL POVERTY ON ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
Background to the Study
Poverty is a social phenomenon that has eaten deep into the fabrics
of every society ranging from its political, social and economic
organizations. It is therefore a social problem that has affected the
productive sector of every economy such as agricultural and industrial
sector to mention but a few. According to Aluk (2011) poverty is
defined as lack of command over basic consumption needs such as
clothing, food and shelter. World Band (2005), define poverty as
inability to attain a minimum standard of living. Environmental
degradation on the other hand is defined as how the environment is
affected through certain forces such as flood, deforestation,
overgrazing, and the use of harmful chemicals as well as environmental
pollution in the environment.
Poverty is most pervasive in rural than urban areas. This assessment
can be justified by the examination of the level of concentration of
economic institutions and activities. It is indisputable that economic
institutions are only concentrated in urban centres, creating more
opportunities for job, good living and what can be obtained in the
rural areas (Ahmed, 2010).
When comparative analysis of the level of income as it affects the
quality of life and standard of living of both rural and urban
settlements is made, a variation of the difference in the social
relationship in art of production, allocation of scarce resources and
distribution, what comes to mind is the question of those who benefit
more as a wide gap exist among the rural and urban dwellers as it
affects the circulation and control of goods and services and of
prices (Maxwell, 2006).
Many studies have established that there exists a strong social
relationship between poverty and environmental degradation. This is
because factors like level of income, quality and prices of goods and
services affects the living standard of people in rural areas thereby
affecting their activities towards the environment. Also, most of the
poor people particularly in developing countries rely on natural
resources for their livelihood, and these people are very vulnerable
to causing environmental problems.
Apa local government area is predominantly a rural based society with
75% of her population depending on agriculture as their main
occupation. Base on the agrarian nature of her economy, crops, and
tubers are highly produced with more than half percent of the
population of women and children constituting the chunk of the labour
force. For some time now efforts have been made by the government,
corporate bodies and irrigation organizations to curb the incidence of
environmental degradation in the area through deliberate policies and
programmes aimed at poverty alleviation among the rural people yet,
poverty remain the major constrain militating against the development
of the rural people.
It is for this reason that this study is design to investigate the
effects of poverty on environmental degradation with reference to Apa
local government area of Benue State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nwagbara, (2012) in his assessment of poverty, environmental
degradation and sustainable development assets that the poor have
traditionally taken the brunt of the blame for causing society’s many
Anijah-Obi (2001), observes that poverty, a deplorable state of human
welfare, is closely linked to environmental degradation. The poor are
both victims and agents of environmental damage. Poverty may be
created by negative and unjust social conditions such as structural
inequality. Those who are poor and hungry will often destroy their
immediate environments in order to survive. They are responsible for
cultivating tired soil and cutting down forests. They throw waste into
gutters and streams, because they lack the basic necessities of life.
They lack resources and materials necessary for living within a
minimum standard conducive to human dignity and well-being.
In Apa local government, the poor depend extensively on firewood for
cooking which requires the falling of trees without replacement. There
are two major streams in the local government that serves as a source
of both industrial and domestic water supply to its inhabitants this
are the Ochi-Chi and Okpeje streams. Activities of fishing with
chemicals, dumping of refuse in stream and water channels, open
deification, and mining of the soil for lime stone and granite
constitute some of the major environmental problems propel by human
activities. All this in no small measure have continued to cause the
outbreak of cholera disease and other health challenges of its
inhabitants which mostly affect the poor due to their inability to
find alternative to both source of water that is already contaminated
and environmental pollution caused by indiscriminate waste disposal.
Hence, the need for this study to examine the effects of poverty on
environmental degradation in Apa local government area of Benue State.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions are advanced to guide this study:
How does poverty cause environmental degradation?
What are the effects of poverty on environmental degradation in Apa
What measures can be employed to ameliorate the problem of poverty on
environmental degradation in Apa local government?
Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to examine the effects of
poverty on environmental degradation in Apa local government area of
Benue State. The specific objectives are to;
Ascertain how poverty cause environmental degradation
Find out the effects of poverty on environmental degradation in Apa
Suggest measures that can be employed to ameliorate the problem of
poverty on environmental degradation in Apa local government
Significance of the Study
This study will be significant in the following ways; firsts and
foremost, the findings of this study will serve as a policy document
to the government, policy makers and environmentalist in curbing the
effects of environmental degradation on rural poor dwellers.
Secondly, it will be of importance to the academic environment as it
can be use as a reference point in giving out information on poverty
and environmental issues in the society.
Thirdly, the study will add to the already existing body of
literatures in the area of poverty and environmental degradation.
Last but not the least, the study will aid further researchers who
intend to carryout similar studies on the same topic to have a
background situation of what they intend to study.
The following research assumptions are to guide this study:
Ho. There is no significant relationship between poverty on
environmental degradation in Apa local government
Scope of the Study
The scope of this study shall be delimitated to Ogantelle towns of
Apa local government where there are higher levels of farming and
degredation. The major areas of Apa such as, Auke, Iga-Okpaya, Oiji,
Igoro, Ikobi, Ojope, Ogantele, Oba, Edikwu 1 and Edikwu II ward were
covered with a time span ranging from 2010 to 2013.
1.8 Definition of Terns
Poverty: According to Sachs (2009), poverty can be defined in terms of
three distinguishable degrees. These are: Extreme poverty, moderate
poverty and relative poverty. Extreme poverty means the household
cannot meet basic needs for survival. Moderate poverty on the other
hand generally refers to conditions of life in which basic needs are
met, but just at the base level while, relative poverty is construed
as a household income level below a given proportion of average
national income. Put differently, poverty can be defined as the
inability of one to provide for his or her basic needs of life such as
food, clothing and sheathe.
Environmental Degradation: Environmental degradation implies a gradual
reduction in environmental quality to the extent that its ability to
meet the environmental needs of the present generation is reduced and
that of the future generation is in jeopardy. According to Fritsch et
al. (1990), environmental degradation is defined as a man-made
environmental change having negative impact on human society. It can
also be defined as processes induced by human behaviour and activities
(sometimes combined with natural hazards) that damage the natural
resource base or adversely alter natural processes or ecosystems.