TACKLING POVERTY AMONG RURAL POPULACE IN NIGERIA
One of the main issues in development debates is how to tackle rural poverty. The constraints to developing the rural areas as well as problems of this critical sector have come to loom very large. For over four decades in Nigeria, all attempts to put the rural areas on course of development have failed. Conditions have continued to worsen and poverty has become a major issue in the rural areas in spite of their potentials. Therefore, a major concern to governments, multilateral institutions and policy makers in different countries is to identify appropriate strategy for poverty alleviation especially in the rural areas.
The rural areas however present problems that are a contradictory paradox of its natural resource endowment. As noted by Chinsman (1998:99), rural communities are seriously marginalized in terms of most basic elements of development. In addition, the inhabitants tend to live at the margin of existence and opportunities. Most rural communities lack potable water, electricity, health care, educational and recreational facilities and motorable roads. They experience high population growth rates; high infant and maternal mortality, low life expectancy and a peasant population that lacks modern equipment that can guarantee sustainable exploitation of the natural resources on which they live.
In line with the recent finding that poverty is a rural phenomenon (World Bank, 1990; Fields, 2000:47; World Bank, 2001), available statistics on the incidence of poverty in Nigeria have shown that, while urban poverty rate increased progressively from 3 percent in 1980 to 25.2 percent in 1996, that of rural areas increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 31.6 percent in 1996. beyond the fact that rural poverty rate was higher than that of urban rate throughout the period of 1980 and 1996, the range of urban poverty rate between 1980 and 1996 was 22.2 percent as against 25.1 percent for the rural poverty rate during the same period. Again, this confirms that rural people are the worst hit by poverty in Nigeria.
To date, poverty situation in Nigeria remains a paradox, at least from two perspectives. Firstly, poverty in Nigeria is a paradox because the poverty level appears as a contradiction considering the country’s immense wealth. Secondly, poverty situation has worsened despite the huge human and material resources that have been devoted to poverty reduction by successive governments in Nigeria with no substantial success achieved from such efforts. Nevertheless, since poverty remains a development issue, it has continued to capture the attention of both national governments and international development agencies for several decades. Indeed, since the mid-1980s, reducing poverty has become a major policy concern for governments and donor agencies in all poverty-stricken countries, Nigeria inclusive.
Years of military rule, fiscal neglect, mismanagement, blatant embezzlement and corruption have compounded the incidence of poverty in Nigeria. Against this background most Nigerians lack the economic and financial power to invest, while at the same time the commitment of government to the improvement of basic social infrastructures are among the worst in the country.
Relating to this fact, Mahmoud (2003:63) posits that economic and social policies in Nigeria have accentuated poverty most especially in the rural areas while in the urban sectors one witnesses the existence of growth without development, a situation where you find a few super rich and the core poor existing in the same environment.
This picture calls for concern among scholars, social commentators and other interested stakeholders, hence the avalanche of literature as regard the issue of poverty and its implication for national development.
Elumilade Asaolu and Adereti (2006:17) observes that statistics on human development and social provision shows that Nigeria is increasingly becoming one of the poorest in the world and on a very vulnerable position.
This standpoint collaborates the position of earlier writers. It is a well-known fact that the level of poverty in Nigeria since the implementation of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 1980s have risen (Oyesanmo, et al 2004, UNDP Nigeria 1998, World Bank 1999).
To be specific, data from the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) on poverty profile (1999) showed that the incidence of poverty increased from 28,1 percent in 1980, to 43.6 percent in 1985 but declined to 42.7 percent in 1992 and rose again to 65.6 percent in 1996.
Unfortunately, given this statistical background, Nigeria has been adjudged as one of the poorest nations in the world. Furthermore, the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) for 2000 ranked Nigeria as the 142nd with Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.40 among the poorest counties.
In the same vain Kelechi (2005) in social development and poverty in Nigeria asserts that
All documentation official or otherwise, shows that poverty in Nigeria in all forms is rising at an increasingly fast pace. Nigeria’s statistics rank it among the worst in Sub-Saharan Africa, even though it possesses, the greatest national resources.
The observations by scholars and institutions (both international and domestics) are not in any way isolated. The analysis of the depth and severity of poverty in Nigeria showed that rural areas are the most affected.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Rural poverty in Nigeria is a situational syndrome. The rural poor often share the following disabilities in common; limited assets, environmental vulnerability (Typhoon, draught, flood and earthquake) and lack of access to public services and amenities such as education and medical care, malnutrition, illiteracy, poor housing, large family size are some physical manifestations of rural poverty (Ekong, 1991).
The majority of the rural poor lack basic education, are primary dependents on agriculture for their livelihood, own extremely small amount of land for cultivation and support large families at low average per capita income levels.
Because their earnings are low, they sometimes go hungry. As a result, the consequence of a drop in their earnings or the need to finance unexpected expenditures, such as medical expenses could be quite serious.
The rural poor own few assets, making it infeasible for the financial Institution to secure its lending with collateral.
On the strength of the above deplorable condition, Etinan Local Government Administration adopted Poverty Alleviation Programmes, as a currency for rural / grassroot development and socio economic planning.
Based on the above, this study seek to address these questions.
- What are causes of rural poverty?
- What are the socio-economic characteristics of the rural poor in the study area?
- How much did the programmes impact on the income of the beneficiaries?
- Has the programmes helped in alleviating rural poverty?
- OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to examine the programmes aim at tackling poverty among rural populace in Nigeria (A case of Etinan Local Government Area).
To recommend appropriate measures or ways of tackling poverty among the rural populace.
- There is no significant relationship between Poverty Alleviation Programmes and Poverty Reduction in the Study Area.
- There is no significant difference between beneficiaries income levels before and after the introduction of Poverty Alleviation Programmes.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
There is no gainsaying that the world over, political, leaders, scholars, international organizations, journalists and interest stakeholders are harping on the reduction or possible elimination of poverty in every nook and cranny of the world. Against this background, we witnessed various fora, symposia, conferences, seminars and other workshops organized by interested participants on how to eradicate poverty from among mankind.
In the same vain, Nigeria is not left out, past administrations have been fighting tooth and nail to exterminate corruption which, to many, is one of the many root causes of poverty (Ihunda, 2004) while at the same time pursuing the National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NAPEP) with the sole aim of eradicating the scourge of poverty among Nigerians. To this end, this research work, therefore, became relevant and significant and it seeks to critically assess that the problem, impact and prospects of poverty alleviation in Nigeria with Etinan L.G.A. as a case study.
This work, it is hoped, would guide policy makers in their quest towards poverty eradication and also act as a compass to interested scholars and also touch-off further debates on the issue.
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The following hypotheses shall be tested in the course of this study.
- The scourge of poverty among the rural populace is likely related to lack of adequate education.
- There is a significant relationship between adequate identification of the cause(s) of poverty among the rural populace and appropriate prescription of remedy.
1.6 SCOPE AND ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY
The research is limited to study Poverty Alleviation Programmes aimed at reducing poverty among rural populace in Nigeria.
To achieve this the work is divided into five chapters thus: chapter one deals with the preliminary issues – introduction, statement of the Research problem, objectives of the study, hypothesis, significance of the study, scope and organisation of the study.
Chapter two contains review of relevant literature, theoretical framework and research methodology.
Chapter three reviews the past and present Poverty Alleviation Programmes embarked upon by different administration in Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State Poverty Alleviation Programme and Life Enhancement Programmes, Poverty Alleviation Programmes embarked upon by Etinan Local Government Area.
Chapter four assess the impact, problem and prospects of Poverty Alleviation programmes embarked by Etinan Local Government Area.
Chapter five summarizes, recommends and concludes the study.
This research is strictly descriptive, historical and archival in nature. To this end, it shall depend heavily on secondary and primary data materials collated from, textbooks, articles from journals, government bulletins, publications from international and domestic agencies as well as questionnaire.
Moreover, commentaries and journalistic articles from magazines, newspapers and newsletters shall also be culled to support our write up.
Chinaman, C. (1998) Food Crisis and Poverty Alleviation Programmes in Nigeria, Unpublished Seminar Paper, University of Port-Harcourt, Nigeria.
Ekong, E. E. (1991) Rural Development and the persistence of Poverty An inaugural Lecture presented at University of Cross River State, Uyo, Nigeria.
Elumilade Asaolu (2006) Poverty: A Challenge to the 21st Century Rural Development in Nigeria, in Journal Education and Society Vol. 4, No. 2 Sept. 2001.
Fields, G. S. (2002) “The Dynamics of Poverty, inequality and Economic Well-being; African Economic Growth in Comparative Perspective” in Ekpo and Uwatt (ed) Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria: Poverty profile and Economic Transformation, Foundation for Economic Transformation, Research and Training Uyo.