Rural Development in Nigeria; the way forward?
Rural communities in Nigeria are grossly associated with pockets of poverty and lack or inadequate social infrastructures such as education or health care facilities. However, the good news is that the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have one project or the other catering for these gaps.
From our observations, every Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MA&RD) in Nigeria has a Department of Rural Development (DRD) in charge of the development of rural communities in their jurisdictions. Specifically, there are Agencies dealing with matters like Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Rural Electrification, and Community & Social Development. Also, ongoing projects like the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) is being executed to solve the problem of feeder roads in rural areas. These Agencies are working hard to promote the cause of rural development in Nigeria, but despite their efforts, there still exist more unreached rural communities. To these communities, basic necessity remains a luxury.
From the fore going, to achieve significant improvement in the development efforts in rural areas, one major consideration is the need for all relevant stakeholders, especially DRD, to change their strategy and begin to work as collaborators rather than individual and isolated units. Each Department of Rural Development must broaden her scope to accommodate a more holistic and eclectic approach, rather than a lopsided focus on Agriculture only. Consequently, there is a need to establish a stronger linkage and working relationship among various MDAs that are promoting Agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, innovation/technology as well as development-oriented research.
Think of a computer system, all components have independent functions but work collaboratively and interdependently for timely productivity and sustainability of results. It is therefore anticipated that this coming years will witness more cooperation among relevant stakeholders.
This is pertinent because, Departments of Rural Development have vital and coordinating roles to play in harmonizing the efforts of other MDAs, which to mention a few includes:
1. Being up-to-date with the activities and projects of other Ministries and Agencies such as the Ministry of Health, Education, and Agencies like the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Rural Electrification Agency, Community and Social Development Agency, etc.
2. Being active in ongoing projects in rural communities and working with other MDAs to ensure better coordination and avoid the exclusion of remote rural settlements from developmental projects.
3. Embarking on a comprehensive mapping of rural settlements as well as a profiling and documentation of infrastructural deficiencies and needs in those communities.
4. Developing an online Geo-data base where the public can upload the names and coordinates of discovered rural settlements for profiling.
5. Working closely with and supporting the Local Government Councils to reach remote rural settlements.
6. Partnering with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to provide relevant and timely interventions to rural communities.
7. Liaising with Local, State and Federal Government to create a rural inclusion policy that ensures a well-defined inclusion rate of rural communities in developmental agenda and activities. That is, for every project in all other MDAs, say for instance, 25% must be implemented in rural communities.
8. Carrying out effective monitoring and follow-up on rural inclusion policy implementation.
Without doubt, the challenges facing our rural communities require more coordinated and collaborative efforts. YORDS 2020 has been tailored to explore innovative and sustainable solutions to rural development in the post Covid-19 Era.
I look forward to an exciting deliberation and brainstorming session with you at the Summit.
Published on 6/11/2020