RURAL SOCIOLOGY AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT WITH FOCUS ON NIGERIA. A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
Rural areas are a key sector in every nation’s economy and their rapid development and modernization have gained the attention of policy makers and governments all over the world. This is because a sizeable majority of the population lives therein therefore; the future of the country depends largely on it.
The American Bureau of Census classifies a group of people living in a community having a population of not more than 2,500 people as rural, whereas in Nigeria, the Federal Office of Statistics defines a community with less than 20,000 people as rural. According to Afolayan (1995), rural areas can be easily identified by various criteria, apart from population. Such criteria include the level of infrastructural development i.e. road networks, educational institutions, water supply, electricity, health facilities, communication, etc. Other criteria used include Occupation, Housing, Extent of community planning etc.
Typically, rural dwellers are less vocal, characterized by a culture of poverty, as most people live barely above subsistence level (Laah et al, 2013). Rural areas in developing countries are usually deprived of the basic needs of life such as housing, medical care, postal communication, education, transport etc.
Specifically, rural areas refer to geographical areas that lie outside the densely built-up environment of towns, cities and the sub-urban villages and whose inhabitants are engaged primarily in agriculture as well as the most basic of rudimentary form of secondary and tertiary activities (Ezeah, 2005). Rural area, which is the opposite of an urban area, refers to the country side whose population engages mainly in primary production activities like agriculture, fishing, and rearing of livestock (Ele, 2006). About 90 percent of the rural labour workforce engages directly or indirectly in agriculture (Nyagba, 2009).
The rural sector of Nigeria is, very vital to the socio-economic development of the nation. According to Nyagba (2009), the most important sector of the Nigerian population is the rural areas. This is because the rural sector is the major source of capital formation for the country and a principal market for domestic and raw materials for industrial processes (Ugwuanyi and Emma, 2013). Rural area dwellers have been found to engage in primary economic activities that form the foundation for the country’s economic development (Abah, 2010).
Given the contributions of the rural sector to the national economy, enhancing the development of the sector should be central to government and public administration. This is necessary as such would further enhance the ability of the sector for increased contribution to the overall national growth and development. In most countries, development is most desirous in the rural areas where bulk of the population resides. The development of rural areas signals to a greater extent the level of national development and the situation of the nations in the development ladder.
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