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Background to the Study

According to FAO (2002), community development model for Rural Development especially through the self-help method had existed before colonization of Africa. This model is still widely accepted in Nigeria as an important segment of a change oriented mainstream of rural development (Onokoroye and Okafor, 1994). When the colonialists arrived, they concentrated on the exploitation of the abundant natural resources in the rural area without definite attempt to develop such areas.

Development projects were concentrated in the urban centers where the white man lived. Any extension of such development effort was to facilitate their administrative convenience. The rural areas served as sources of cheap and sometimes forced labour. Through the Road and River Ordinance of 1912, the warrant chiefs were empowered to order communities to provide unpaid compulsory labour for construction and maintenance of access roads and other services (Okoli, 1997).

From the colonial period to the second National Development plan (1974), Rural Development was conceived narrowly in terms of agricultural output for export rather than as an overall improvement in the life of rural populace (Baba, 1984). Idachaba (1985) noted that the cash crop schemes were managed by expatriates and later by indigenes on the attainment of self-government and independence.

Emphasis, according to Idachaba (1985) was on commodities. He cited the Tree Crop Programmes of the 1970 where, with the aid of the World Bank, oil palm, cocoa, and rubber development programmes were undertaken in Ondo, Oyo, Bendel etc. The Nigerian government started showing concern about the rural sector and plight of the rural dwellers in its Second National Development plan (1970-1974).

The government decided “to foster a more sustained development consciousness among the masses, especially in the rural areas through town unions” (FRN 1970:38). Though emphasis was still on agricultural modernization, the plan showed encouragement and sustenance of community self-help effort to achieve rural development. The Third National Development plan (1975-1980) marked a departure in recognizing that Rural Development is more than agricultural Development.

In fact, in the Fourth National Development plan (1981-1985), it had dawned on the government that an “isolated emphasis on agriculture was not enough”. The government therefore, planned to fund an “integrated and multi-disciplinary approach” which would take account of major factors affecting the welfare and well-being of the rural population (FRN 1981:23). Olisa and Obiukwu (1992:vi), however, observed that this approach of community programmes continued the expansion of urbanization, uncontrolled rural-urban drift, pressure on urban infrastructure and services and increased demand for social welfare etc.

The deferent attempts at Rural Development culminated in the 1976 Local Government Rural Development Plan whose aim and objective is to start a development process that would lift the rural areas from their underdevelopment into even development (Newswatch, 2000). This Local Government Reform of 1976 raised some hope as its main proclaimed objective was to bring government nearer to the people which in turn would design a development process that would lift the rural areas from their deplorable socio-economic state (Newsatch, 2000). According to

Olisa and Obiuku (1992:vi), ever since 1976 (National Reform of Local Government System) rural development in Nigeria became a national issue and programme; an uplifment from its localized status of the earlier decades. For instance, the Federal Government tried Agriculture Development Projects (ADPs) 1975, Operation Feed The Nation (OFN) 1978, Green Revolution 1976 and Directorate For Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) 1986 among others.  Socybert (2010) argues that  not minding the lofty objectives, government policies and initiatives such efforts never endured beyond the government that initiated the schemes.

 In January 1986, Babangida’s administration outlined a new approach to Rural Development. A seven-man directorate was set up in the office of the president to take charge of Rural Development. According to Muoghalu (1986), this directorate gave birth to DIFRRI. In his 1986 Budget broadcast, Babangida states: Rural Development will move from past narrow Fibre Sectoral pre-occupation with generation of food and surpluese to overall formulation of a national Rural Development strategy and emphasis on the alleviation of rural poverty and enhancement of quality of rural life (Concord, 1986).

The budget, among other objectives, was to embark on education and manpower development, improve the quality of rural life, provide network of rural roads, and achieve socio-cultural and political mobilization of rural people for execution of programmes in the areas of health, housing, water, industrial and agricultural development, rural sanitation, rural electrification etc (Guardian,1987). According to Babangida (1989), DIFRRI was set up to correct the general gross inadequacies of rural infrastructures in Nigeria and also to balance spatial disparities in the distribution of rural infrastructures.

DIFRRI achieved marginal results in Nigeria because of the poor level of involvement of the local governments and rural people in its work. There was also increasing areas of conflict between DIFRRI and other government agencies charged with Rural Development (Kolawole 1982). In the states, South East states inclusive, ‘task forces’ were proliferated thereby increasing the myriads of Rural Development agencies and DIFRRI has not provided the much-desired coordinating role (Muoghalu, 1992).

The practice of rural development thus suffered in the rural Nigeria. A lot of rigours, bottlenecks and unnecessary bureaucracy are often attached to rural development process. Hence, there is the challenge of the proliferation of development programmes (Babangida, 1989). Blande (2009) agreed that there is urgent need for a more purposeful and better coordinated rural development through sensitization of the beneficiaries of rural development.

For instance, it is being observed that in the rural communities of South East States of Nigeria, the lockjaw brought about by unnecessary bureaucracy and competing development programmes left behind the pluralism of development agencies with little or no relationship between them either in policy formulation or policy implementation, with the result that there are unnecessary duplications (Muoghalu, 1992).

Asolo (2000) adds that lack of integration of interest groups (town unions, the community, local governments and states) tend to arouse suspicion and conflict between them. This lack of planning from the grassroots inhibits cooperation and participation of the rural people in the development of the rural areas. For these reasons, efforts should be geared towards the development of the grassroots initiatives and strategies that pull the town unions and age grades at the center of decision making process (FAO, 2002).  

Besides the challenge of inadequate planning at the grassroots, there are other universally accepted challenges of rural development worth investigating such as, poor funding, communal conflicts, unskilled manpower, apathy, government neglect, corruption and others. These challenges of rural development confronting most of the Third World countries remain the cause of the perennial uneven development.

Fruits of socio-economic growth and development are still concentrated in a few cities to the detriment of the bulk of the population which is still rural (Odigbo and Adediran, 2009). Consequently, all efforts at rural development produce mere ‘oases of urban settlements’ while the rest of the rural masses remain underdeveloped (Okafor, 2010). Therefore, it is the assumption of this research work that the aforementioned challenges of rural development and more could be responsible for the persistent underdevelopment of most of the rural communities in Nigeria as shown by poverty, disease, malnutrition etc, rural communities in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State inclusive.  Against this backdrop, this study investigated some of these challenges of rural development in the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria.


1.2       Statement of the Problem

It is observed that most of the efforts at rural development often failed to improve the living standard of the people significantly (Aguene, 2007; FOS, 2000). Furthermore, the rural–urban drift of the jobless youths persists, with the disturbing urban population explosion (Stock, 2005). It is equally uncertain about the possibility of Nigeria becoming one of the twenty leading economies of the world by the year 2020 because of the low pace of rural development in the country.

Nigeria is also in the race for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ended in 2015. The MDGs are eight development goals to be reached by 2015. These development goals respond to the world’s main development challenges which include eradication of extreme poverty and hunger globally (PDVSA, 2005). The problem therefore, is to examine how Nigeria has prepared to address this problem of poverty, especially in the rural areas in order to reposition the rural areas for eventual development.

It is observed that poor funding constitutes a major challenge in rural development because of the already endemic poverty cycle associated wth rural dwellers. Unless there is external financing of rural development projects, these projects experience problems taking off the ground (Ovaga, 2013). The challenge of poor funding, if not addressed would further worsen the already bad condition of the rural communities.

The problems posed by poor funding may increase the burden of levies to the rural communities, which most of the times outstreach the resources of the rural communities and further pauperize them (Okafor, 2010). This challenge is one of the burdens of this study as it concerns rural communities in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. Rural area, one would think, is a haven of peace, is mared by communual conflicts.

These communal conflicts have the potential to ground rural development projects. Peace remains elusive in most rural areas (Nwakunor, 2012). Attention is usually focused on conflict management which takes a lot of time and scarce financial resources. Communual conflicts usually result in anarchy and communal wars (Nnamani, 2003). Thus, communual conflicts bring retrogression instead of development in the rural communities especially those in Awka South Local Government Area. This is a challenge in this study.

Corruption has remained a notable cancarworm that eats deep into the fabrics of most societies (Ilufoye, 2009). Money meant for rural development is often syphoned by few individuals in positions of leadership in the rural communities. There is need to plug the holes through which public fund is lost to these corrupt local leaders. It is therefore necessary to investigate how to plug these loop holes that have remained a problem to rural development, especially in Awka South Local Government of Anambra State.

There is always the cry of neglect and youth migration by most rural communities. It is possible that while the government is concentrating on urban development, she neglects the rural communities with their comparatively larger population. Some times, this neglect may result in apathy by the rural communities (Iheriohanma, 2012). The neglect of the rural communities by governments at all levels leaves the rural areas underdeveloped.

That poses the challenge of how to bring the attention of the governments to the need to include the rural communities in their development programmes. In the same vein, youth migration leaves behind deserted rural communities, especially those in Awka South Local Government Area with the attendareasant loss of valuable and skilled manpower for rural development. This is a challenge the study  investigated

Mention should be made of the challenges of lack of skilled man-power, grassroot leadership and poor participation. Most rural communities lack skilled manpower which further compounds the challenge of rural development. Unskilled, old and aged parents have little or no contribution to mechanized agriculture and rural development. This challenge is investigated. Rural communities may not have proper leadership to mobilize and organize the people towards rural development.

This possible lack of leadership may render rural communities, especially communities in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State without direction and goals for rural development (Ibrahim, 2012). This constitutes a problem for this study. Poor participation by rural populace constitutes a problem for rural development in many rural communities. The rural dwellers should participate significantly in rural development and grassroot politics.

The grassroot politics ought to help the rural people to initiate and execute the projects in their area in order to achieve even development. But because of poor participation, the rural people remain apathetic to rural development programmes in their area (Ijeoma, 2002). This challenge was investigated. Furthermore, the challenges of the current globalization process in which the Third World countries are lagging behind demand appropriate rural development strategies that can ensure an accelerated and sustainable development of the rural communities of Nigeria, including the Awka South Local Government of Anambra State.

The problem of this study is to investigate the above challenges of rural development which include; poor funding, communual conflict, corruption, neglect, apathy, youth migration, unskilled manpower, poor leadership and poor participation in the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State and to recommend a rural development model for an accelerated and sustainable rural development in the area.

1.3       Research Questions

            The following research questions are raised to aid the study:

  1. What is the state of funding and governmental support to rural development in rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State?
  2. In what way does leadership affect rural development in the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State?
  • To what extent is rural development affected by corrupption and communal conflict in  the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State?
  • What are the remedies for the rural-urban drift in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State?
  • What approach of rural development is suitable for an accerlarated development of the study area?

1.4     Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate the challenges of rural development in the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. The investigation will provide understanding of the challenges the rural communities of the study area encounter in order to profer solutions and design a model for an accelerated development of the rural communities in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

       The specific objectives of the study include:

  1. To determine the extent of funding and governmental support towords rural development in rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
  2. To determine the role of leadership on rural development in rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
  3. To determine the relationship between corruption, communal conflict and rural development in rural communities of Awka South Local government Area of Anambra State.
  4. To profer solutions to the rural-urban drift in the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
  5. To identify an appropriate rural development strategy in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

1.5   Hypotheses

The following hypotheses are raised for the study:

HA1      There is a significant relationship between poor funding and the successful execution of rural development in rurual communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

HA2      There is a significant relationship between the availability of skilled manpower and effective realization of rural development in the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

HA3      There is a significant relationship between popular participation of rural people and improved rural development of the rural communities of Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

1.6       The Significance of the Study    

The study will be of great significance theoretically and practically. Theoretically, the results of the study will add value to the quality of theories on rural development. Hitherto, models of rural development are affected by views of different disciplines. Economists emphasize economic development while the sociologists emphasize overall social wellbeing of the rural dwellers. This work intends to narrow down this conceptual gap in theories of rural development.  

This work will also add value to the theories on the challenges of rural development by narrowing down the cncept of rural development to the wellbeing of the people. More importantly, this will be beneficial in adding value to the study of specific challenges to rural development such as  poor funding, corruption, and communual conflicts. Again, the study will provide reference materials for the students of rural development.

Practically, the results of the study will be a valuable tool in the hands of the government and other rural development agencies. It will add to the body of literature on the challenges of rural development. The recommendations from this study will help governments in the formulation of policies for rural development to tackle the challenges of development among the rural communities. When adopted, in the study population, the recommendations from this work are expected to improve on the living standard of the rural communities.

Conceptual Clarification

Rural Communities

Rural communities are communities with low level of living, population (below 5000), ineffective institutional structures, poor social and physical infrastructure. They also experience low per capita income, poor technical efficiency in agriculture as a result of poor production methods, small cultivable land, endemic low productivity and high level of poverty. Spatially, the rural people live predominantly away from urban locations often characterised by low populotion.

Rural Development

 In this study, Rural Development stands for a process by which a set of technical, social, cultural and institutional measures are implemented with and for the inhabitants of rural areas. The aim is to improve their socio-economic conditions, achieve harmony and balance at the state, national and the regional levels.

Endogenous Development

It is the form of development that is based on the local people’s own criteria and takes into account the material, social, and spiritual well-being of the people. Endogenous development is mainly based on local strategies, values, institutions and resources. As a model of development, it provides a means of achieving the social, cultural and economic development of rural societies through popular participation of the rural people and coordinated efforts of skilled leadership amongst the rural people in decision making, identification and execution of rural projects.Traditional society evolves into a complex industrial one.

Exogenous Development

As against endogenous development, exogenous development is that form of development processes imposed on the rural populace by development agents, governments and other agencies. Here, the development agents believe that they understand the “real need” of the rural dwellers better. A community in dire need of electricity may be provided with water boreholes. Already, the people are contented with the clean water from their natural streams.


 In this work, challenge means an independent variable which by its character delays or hinders the achievement of set goals in any activity. Such variables as poor funding, government neglect, lack of (skilled) leadership, corruption and youth migration to the urban areas are regarded as challenges and which can delay or hinder rural development.


 In this study, modernization is a theory of development which holds that technological advancement and economic change will catalyze change in people’s moral and cultural values.This social evolution runs through several stages generally, starting from a simplistic (traditional) level to a more complex (industrial) level.

Integrated Rural Development

It is a concept for a long-term planning which lays emphasis on involving all rural people, all levels of governments and other rural development agencies in development. It is usually mult-sectoral embracing social, economic, political, cultural dimensions of development. It connotes programmes of rural development which recognizes the essence of all human and material factors relevant to rural development. The human and material resources, development agencies and other factors of rural development should work together to achieve a multi-sectoral development of the rural area.

Improved Rural Development

Improved rural development refers to a process that improves the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in rural communities. In the context of this study, the process ought to achieve overall development of the rural populace.


 In this study, participation means different mechanisms through which the rural dwellers express their opinions and influence decisions on issues that touch on their well-being. The rural people are thereby encouraged to spearhead rural development processes though with the collaboration of external agencies from local, state, national governments and international donor agencies.

Skilled Manpower

In this study, skilled manpower connotes trained and knowledgeable individuals and leadership in rural communities who would drive an endogenous rural development model. These skilled individuals and leaders, because of the expert knowledge they possess, are likely to demonstrate competence as community leaders.

Poor Funding

Poor funding is defined as inadequate access to credit for rural community development. It includes the vicious cycle of poverty which hinders rural communities from embarking on cost effective development projects such as provision of electricity and asphalted roads.


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