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This study assessed the strategies to enhance the living standard of the rural people as affected by the Poverty Reduction Programme. The study first of all examined issues of poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria, attributing it to lack of employment, high rate of illiteracy among the citizenry, poor infrastructure, inadequate access of micro credit facilities, mismanagement of public funds, bad governance, instability of the governments and its policies. The study also examined the efforts made by different governments in poverty alleviation within this period.

In carrying out this study, the research methodology explains the systematic procedure designed by the researcher, the generation, collection and analysis of data aimed at providing solution to the specified research problems. It was guided by the following hypothesis:

  1. The various poverty alleviation programmes of government have not positively impacted on the people.
  2. The socio-economic condition of the country is not conducive for sustainable national development.
  • Most public policies targeted poverty alleviation in Nigeria do not address the actual needs of the rural populace.

The result revealed that poverty alleviation initiatives of the federal government of Nigeria, have not significantly impacted positively on the lives of Nigerians, especially the poor; and has not led to the overall reduction of poverty. The findings of the research strongly support the suggestion that Nigerians at the rural areas are more likely to associate with poverty alleviation programmes in which they participate in contributing ideas into the initial policy design stages of such programmes, which they will later consent to at the rural level.

The study concluded with the recommendations among others, that for any meaningful development alleviation programme must be properly packaged, such that government would go into partnership with the rural people, in order to make implementation easier and successful; thus engendering economic self-sustenance, economic growth and development.




 Poverty is a global phenomenon, which affects continents, nations and peoples differently. It affects people in various depths and levels, at different times and phrases of existence. There is no nation that is absolutely free from poverty. The main difference is the intensity and prevalence of this malaise. Nations in sub- Sahara African, South Asia and Latin American are currently with the highest level of poverty and consequently with the lowest level of  socio-economic development.

They also have the highest level of social insecurity, violence, unrest and generally unacceptable low standard of living. The Central Bank of Nigeria (1999:1) views poverty as “a state where individual is not able to cater adequately for his basic needs of food, clothing and shelter: is unable to meet social and economic obligations, lack of gainful employment, skills, assets and self-esteem: and has limited access to social and economic  infrastructure such as education, health, portable water, and

sanitation: and consequently, has limited chance of advancing his or her welfare to the limit of his or her capacities. The World Bank (2000:1) utilized inductive approach to uncover various dimensions of poverty such as well-being, psychological, basic infrastructure, illness and assets. One of such definitions is “the lack of what is necessary for material well-being especially food, but also housing, land, and other assets. In other word, poverty is the lack of multiple resources that leads to hunger and physical depreciation”.

Another of such definitions is “lack of voice, power, and independence that subjects them to exploitation. Their leaves them vulnerable to rudeness, humiliation, and imbalance treatment by both private and public agents of the State from whom they seek help”. Nigeria, ranked among the 25 poorest countries in the world, started its independent nationhood with poverty level of barely 15% of its population in 1960 and is today struggling to bring it down from 70% of its current teeming population of about

120 million. Of number of poverty stricken people, 73% is concentrated in the rural areas where illiteracy prevalence is high, portable water and health facilities are barely available, road and electricity infrastructures are either unavailable or ill-managed. World Bank and United Nation Development Programme (UNDP)’s 2002 Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.46 aptly indiente the deplorable state of poverty and low human development.

This is in spite of the fact that the richly endowed with all kinds of water, agricultural and mineral resources. Nigeria’s proportion of poor has doubled over the last two decades, during which time the country received over $3000 billion in oil and gas revenue. Paradoxically, Nigeria’s level of revenue and endowment are in opposite direction with her poverty level. While revenue profile of Nigeria rose from #4 billion in 1975 to #26 billion in 1980, and GNP per capita rose from $360 to more than $1000 in the same

period, the percentage of the population that was poor grew from 15% in 1960 to about its present 70%. Furthermore, according to World Bank and UNDP 2001 statistics, Nigeria which impressively ranked 6th and 7th in petroleum Production respectively, is ranked 194th in GNP per capita and is unenviably classified as the poorest nation in the world. However, the above scenario has being as a result of non-challant attitude and non- recognition of the problem at hand.

It has also not come by because of response to the yearning of the poor people to be emancipated from rather deplorable and frustrating state of near-despair. No Nigerian Government, be it military or civilian, has come without introducing and leaving behind one form of poverty alleviation or reduction programme meant to reduce the level of poverty, give hope and succor to the poor and, or move towards some sort of wealth creation, strategies, policies  and plans have been articulated: programme and

project have been formulated and executed over the years. For instance, at independence in 1960, poverty eradication effort in Nigeria centred on education while Operation feed the Nation (OFN), the Green. Revolution, War Against Indiscipline (WAI), People’s Bank of Nigeria (PBN), community Banks, Directorate of  Food Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI), Nigerian Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) existed during the period under review although successive government have tried to address the issue of poverty as captured above, the effect of strategies and programmes has been that of mixed feelings. The question bothering a great number of Nigerians are:

  1. If so much effort has been made towards reducing poverty in Nigeria, why is poverty on the increase?
  2. What is the effect of the increasing poverty on the Nations economy?
  3. Are there better ways or strategies of implementing reduction programmes to make them more effective?

It has been known in Nigeria that every government embarks on one form of poverty reduction strategy or the other. However, what has remained unanswered is the extent to which these programmes have impacted on the poor- the target population. Recent studies on the subject poverty and its reduction agencies as well as programmes indicate that considerable gap exists between the target objective- alleviating or eradicating poverty- and achievement.

It seems that the efforts of various government are ineffective and therefore not much has been done to actualize the benefits. For poverty, reduction agencies, their results do not seem to justify the huge financial allocations to them. Poor people’s perceptions of formal poverty reduction activities contributes little in their struggles to survive and rarely help them to escape poverty. More disturbing is the fact despite the colossal amount of resources committed to those programmes, the poverty situation aggravates, and more and more people fall into the poverty region instead of escaping.



Poverty in Nigeria, by magnitude and depth, is relatively more of a rural problem. The rural areas is still populated to over 90 percent by farmers and farm labourers who share 16.4 percent of the 4.7 million existence poor in the Nation and 67.6 percent out of the 34.7 million national poor (World Bank, 1996b) . Taking the mountainous problem of poverty in Nigeria then needs a holistic approach but basically comprising of targeted sub-programs to reach the diverse group to which poverty has been

particularly associated –agriculture being the Conimode, 1995, Illori 1995; Okumadewa., 1995, World Bank, 1996b). such realistically targeted anti-poverty strategies must be built into the structure and functioning  of the targeted group’s socio-economy to secure perpetuation of its benefits. The design of the structural functioning of the target group vis a vis the factors that cause and perpetuate poverty.

The study that focuses on the Nigeria situation with rural areas as a case under consideration as regards the problems of poverty and the structures put in place to reduce it. It will thus give attention to the problem of poverty and how it has affected the Nigeria economy in the past, present and possibly how it will affect her in the future. The study will give attention to past attempts at reducing poverty and why they failed and the prospector of the new initiative of the present administration.


The overall objective of the study is to asses the various strategies and tools or instruments used to implement various poverty reduction strategies between 1983 and 2002 (twenty years period of review) specifically, the objectives are:

  1. To identify these strategies
  2. To measure their effectiveness and impact on the poor or target group;
  3. To access the capability for reducing poverty;
  4. To identify reasons for the failure or success; and
  5. To suggest and recommend appropriate poverty reduction strategies for Nigeria.
  6. The study is expected to a concerted effort to identify, articulate and highlight the existence, the causes and effects of poverty in Nigeria.
  7. It is a quest to streamlining poverty reduction strategies towards making them more potent.
  8. The study also expected to be of benefit to a number of groups especially stakeholders of poverty reduction efforts such as public and private sectors strategies, planners, managers, coordinators and monitors of poverty reduction agencies and the poor who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the efforts and indeed the genera; public.
  9. The research is expected to be part of data bank for operators as well as policy makers in poverty reduction strategies.
  10. It will arouse the interest of students to conduct more researches in this field of study.

The researcher sought to provide answers to the followings:

  1. What impact has the various poverty alleviation programmes of the government made on the lives of rural dwellers?
  2. What poverty alleviation programme package would best be suitable and easily implementable at the rural level, where the majority of Nigeria Lives?
  3. What is the linkage between poverty alleviation programme, living conditions of the people and rural development? What other factors affect rural development and rural/ urban poverty?

The following hypothesis forms the basis upon which this research study was undertaken:

1). Ho: The various poverty alleviation programmes of government have not positively impacted on the people

 Hi: The various poverty alleviation programmes of government have positively impacted on the people.

2). Ho: The socio-economic condition in the country is not conducive for sustainable national development.

       Hi: The socio-economic condition in the country is conducive for sustainable national development.

3). Ho: Most public policies targeted at poverty alleviation in Nigeria do not address the actual needs of the rural populace.

       Ho: most public policies targeted at poverty alleviation in Nigeria address the actual needs of the rural populace.


Achieving significant result in reducing poverty often hinges on what is done, how it is done, when it is done, and whom it is targeted at. It is obvious from several studies that poverty Reduction Strategies in Nigeria have failed to achieve their stated objectives. It therefore, requires concerted efforts by all to contribute to the success of this all- important but elusive goal. Such effort can only be meaningful if it stems from an empirical study in order to support the government to realize the global lofty objective of eradicating poverty by the year 2015.


In the course of carrying out this stud, a number of constraints were encountered such as:

  1. Much time was spent on carrying out this research study from the printing and distribution of questionnaires to the targeted population, rather than the whole population which was difficult to do;
  2. Funding: Carrying out this research involves a lot of money.. this includes traveling from one town to the other gathering vital data for the study; money expended on the printing of questionnaire, typesetting and binding of the research work into booklet; indeed, generous incentives for both field officers and respondents in order to elicit their co-operation.
  3. Respondents: The researcher was faced with the problem of some respondents not co-operating fully in the providing answers to the questionnaire, seeing the exercise as an unnecessary distraction from the businesses. There was also the problem of certain information about them on issues were going to implicate them.
  4. Materials: The availability of some vital materials for the study was not without difficulties. Vital documents like journals, literature and relevant sources of secondary data collection were encountered with some degree of hardship. Accessing the internet for vital and relevant data was also not easy;
  5. Sample Size: Due to the large size of the population under study, the 36 states of the federation and agencies concerned with poverty alleviation, only a limited number, hence the selection of two states each from the six geo- political zones of the country, making of 12 states and seven hundred and twenty (720) participants altogether. However, in spite of the limitations, the overall objectives of the research were accomplished, as solutions were provided to tackle limitations.

Absolute Poverty: Refers to insufficient or total lack of necessities and facilities like food, housing, medical care, education, social and environmental services, consumer goods, recreational opportunities, neighbourhood amenities, and transport facilities, etc.

GDP: means Gross Domestic Product. This is the Naira value of all the goods and services produced within a country but excluding net income from abroad.

Globalization: Is a process of creating a global market place in which, increasingly, all nations are forced to participate based on the following key elements: the interconnection of sovereign nations through trade and capital flows, facilities dependence and interconnection.

GNP: Means Gross National Product. It is the market value of all the goods and services produced in Nigeria over a specific period of time usually a year at factor cost.

HDI: Refers to Human Development Index which is a measure of longevity, knowledge and income. Longevity is measured solely by life expectancy at birth, while knowledge is measured by the adult literacy rate and mean years of schooling weighed at 2:1 respectively. For income, purchasing power parity (PPP) (based on real GDP) per capita adjusted for the local cost of living is used”.

Indicators of Poverty: generally referred to as measure of economic performance as well as standard of living of the population. This normally combines the measures of income or purchasing power or consumption with those social indicators, which highlight availability and access to the necessities of life.

Poverty: is a state where an individual is not able to cater adequately for his or her basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter: is unable to meet the social and economic obligations, lack gainful employment, skills, assets and self-esteem: and has limited access to social and economic infrastructure such as education, portable water, and sanitation: and consequently, has limited chance of advancing his or her welfare to the limit of his or her capabilities.

Poverty Reduction: Means all formal activities geared towards lowering the rate and prevalence of poverty in the country.

PRSP: Poverty Reduction Strategies Paper is a position paper introduced by the World Bank that is a development plan borne out of collaborative efforts to a broad range of stakeholders poverty reduction. It is normally designed and implemented to through the participation of all involved in one way or the other in poverty, poverty reduction and its other related issues.

Relative Poverty: refers to a situation when people’s income, even adequate for survival, fall radically below that of community average. What is considered poverty level in one country or person may well be the height of well being in another.


The researcher adopts “Relative Deprivation Theory” as a tool to analyze the research topic- An Appraisal of Strategies of Reducing Poverty in Rural Areas. The suitability of the theory to the topic stems from the fact that  the topic dwells on “poverty” reduction. And Relative Deprivation refers to the experience of being deprived of something to which one thinks he is entitled. While poverty is the state of existing in amounts that are too small; a matter of economic deprivation.

Relative deprivation is a term used in social sciences to describe feelings or measures of economic, political, or social deprivation that are relative rather than absolute. It has important consequences for both behaviour and attitudes, including feelings of political tress, political attitudes and participation in collective action. It is relevant to researchers and students in social psychology, economics, politics and other social sciences, especially those interested in intergroup relations, prejudice, social entity, group processes, social expansion, social justice and social movements.

The exponents of this theory include. Karl Max, Karl Poland and Walter Runciman etc. They categorized poverty into two perspective- relative poverty and absolute poverty. According to them, poverty is absolute when by any objective measure; the poor are materially deprived to the point where survival often becomes an issue. While it is relative when the poor are materially deprived in comparison with the majority of the population.

In his view about he theory, Karl Polany have argued that relative differences in economic wealth are more important than absolute levels or that relative deprivation is more significant in determining human quality of life than absolute deprivation. In a quote, Karl Max noted that “A house may be large or small; it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut.

The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain, or but a very insignificant one; and however high it may shoot up in the course of civilizing, if the neighbouring palace rises in equal of even in greater measure, the occupants of the relatively little house will always find himself more uncomfortable, more dissatisfied, more cramped within his four walls.  

Relative Deprivation theory which refers to the discontent people feel when they compare their positions to those of other similarly situated and find out that they have less than they disserve. It is on condition that is measured by comparing one group’s situation to the situations of those who are more advantaged. It is through this comparison that it has been ascertained that those in the urban areas are more advantaged (the rich) than those in the rural areas (the poor).

Thus, the researcher in using this theory accepts the view that those in the rural areas are more disadvantaged than their urban counterparts, and has adopted the theory to analyze the strategies adopted by the government to reduce such poverty in the rural areas, as to find out whether or not the beneficiaries (the poor) have actually been affected positively.


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