1 SELF-HELP EFFORT TOWARDS COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT By OAIKHENA, Egualaye Igbelokoto Marvellous Department of Public Administration College of Management and Social Sciences Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, Edo State, Nigeria. [email protected]. and Samuel Olushola AJAGUN, Ph.D Department of Public Administration Faculty of Management Sciences Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria. An article submitted to the Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Public Administration, Department of Public Administration, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria. July 2015 2 Abstract Transformation has been likened to growth and uplift-ment. Transformation is also a long term plan for stimulating economic and community growth in a society onto a path of sustained and rapid development. Sustained development in a community is a call for all individual in the community to stand firmly on the path of sustainable growth, designed to reflect accurately the collective interests of the people of the community. The infrastructural development of any community is anchored on the determination of the people to mobilize and call on relevant agencies to improve the lives of its people, through the provision of social amenities and to respond appropriately to the growing challenges of an increasingly smaller, mutually dependent, and interconnected society. This paper seeks to promote infrastructural developmental effort within the context of the objective set out for a proper community transformation and its imperative for community participation in the provision of social amenities. The paper looked at the transformation of any community from the bottom-up approach. The paper submits that without adequate response from governmental agencies, transformation of any community would be a mirage. Key words: Transformation, Community, Participation, Self-help Introduction Infrastructural development in any community creates a formidable platform for success and competitive environment that effectively harness the talents and energies of its people to guarantee a high standard of living and quality of life of the community and its people. Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operations of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function [Sullivan and Steven, 2003). As a result infrastructural development leads to a peaceful and harmonious and just society where the people has a strong sense of community identity and belonging, that is truly valued by the state, and is adequately empowered and motivated to contribute to the task of nation building. According to Tonwe “a well articulated plans, policies and programmes of government aimed at uplifting the social and economic standard of living of the people will come to nothing if they are not properly enforced or executed” [Tonwe, 1998:49]. 3 However, for an adequate empowerment of the populace in a community, there should be social infrastructures and amenities that serve as a platform for interaction and exchange of ideas which helps communities to flourish. These amenities comprise of good roads, adequate and clean pipe-borne water, schools, markets, electricity, and health care centers, etc. This was why Omofonmwan (2013:24), posited that infrastructures are aggregate or composite measures of development. This clearly shows that governments and development organizations have a role to play. Notwithstanding, members of a community must continually remind themselves that real development happens only when community members make decisions and take action to achieve their own vision for community transformation. In order words, community transformation stern from the fact that massive investment in infrastructural and human capital and creating an enabling environment for domestic and private investment are encouraged, as decades of underdevelopment of most communities had resulted in the deterioration of the community’s public infrastructures, thereby hampering the transformation of that community. Perennial problems with power generation, transmission and distribution have amongst others; become permanent features of most communities’ landscape, severely constraining her social-economic life in the society. The refusal of a society to acknowledge monumental problems and apply sincere approach in their resolution will not only further polarize the community but also would continue to dangerously promote egocentrism and retrogression in all facets of the community. Ekeh & Osaghae (1989:387) asserted that these had reinforced the politics of competitive modernization among the Nigerian communities or ethnic groups. Every community is endowed with a set of wealth-creating assets, such as land and natural resources, which becomes an incentive for agents of infrastructural development to form coalition in order to develop the community. This could be the 4 reason why Imhanlahimhim (2000:9) referenced Offiong as saying that “development results from a peoples’ frontal attack on oppression, poverty and exploitation that are meted out to them by the dominant classes and their system”. Development is, therefore incomplete with only political, social and cultural growth, without infrastructural development. In view of these, infrastructural development becomes necessary in order to curb social problems like urbanization, which has been attributed to the systemic depopulation of the rural areas through rural-urban migration which has become detrimental to community development. The focus on this paper is therefore to ascertain why infrastructural transformation has eluded most of our communities and proffer possible ways of addressing these teething problems, which has lead to urbanization. The paper is also set to highlight some of the benefits of infrastructural development of a community, which is believed to be geared towards total transformation of the community through a robust synergy with the government by the community. The paper stressed the need for self-developmental effort through community participation, in order to achieve the much desired transformation. Therefore, the objective of this study is to deal with issues relating to community development and how its infrastructural development could lead to transformation. Accordingly, the specific objective of this paper is to address the following: Establish what role social amenities play in community development? Find out if there are inherent problems in community relationship with the government that negates transformation? What are the benefits associated with infrastructural development in a community? Significance of Community Development Oaikhena and Osawe (2012:35) posited that “it is simply an illusion to talk of development in any society whose members lack moral maturity and social 5 responsibility, for moral laxity and irresponsibility on the part of the members of any society is an obstacle, the greatest obstacle to the development of that society”. People all over the world are negotiating rapid social, economic and technological change in terms of growth. Communities especially experience stress as resources are allocated and reallocated in new forms as social differentiations emerge. Communities have become more vocal about their needs over the past few decades, and how they intend to transform themselves and interact with other social and economic dynamics to effect transformational changes in their community. As a result community transformation has become a veritable tool for enhanced development, involving participation, flexibility, equity, attitude and quality of life and wealth. This transformation which works hand in hand with development enables the community to build confidence, and lead a live of dignity and fulfillment. Ogunleye & Oladeinde (2013:37) sees this fulfillment coming to fruition when they asserted that, rural and community development is a participatory role that involves actively the populace, in subjecting their developmental problems to a collective effort. Furthermore, St. Clair (2003) was of the view that “Community development is the process, of helping people in communities to identify common goals and work together to achieve those goals. He added that the process of community development involves not just individuals or one or two groups, but, ideally, the entire community since the entire community gains or losses through the action of any member of the community”. Community development rejects the traditional top-down approach to adopt a more participatory and bottom-up approach, valuing local input into solutions in order to promote positive outcomes. Therefore the key issues in community development are: Local participation; Identification of needs and response to them; Social interaction and the building of inter-group relations; 6 On-going support. As a result it became a panacea for reducing crime, engaging the youth in social activities, encouraging educational pursuit amongst inhabitant, and improving health care etc. Morton quoted some well known social theorists, Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson, as he said that “we live in a society where too much community can never be enough” (Morton, 2000:1). It is also important to recognize that the concept of sustainable development with all its elements has tremendous usefulness for community development, and that it: introduces consideration of the long-term consequences from today’s actions and decisions. It also encourages practitioners to think broadly across issues, disciplines, physical and social boundaries. As it suggests searching out new ways to: a) create economic vitality, b) maintain a healthy environment, c) build healthy communities, and d) meet local needs. Self-Help Community Transformation With increasing interest in corporate citizenship and new models of Community- business partnerships there is a need to document innovative practices and experiences that may be contributing to community transformation. The issue of community transformation ultimately rests upon the shoulders of citizens, who see themselves as having individual and community rights and responsibilities. This assertion was supported by Onibokun (1976) when he states that the belief among most Nigerian communities was that, it was the sole responsibility of the government and its agencies to provide the needs of their communities. In other words government should develop the community by providing the entire necessary infrastructure and social and physical amenities. While Ellerman (2007:567), posited that in the early days of concerted development assistance (the 1940s and 1950s), development was seen as a huge 7 socially engineered investment project as outside agencies could help to finance the investments and to supply expertise. This helped impoverished people that are lacking in a number of specific “things” and once they had received those “things,” they could then break out of their poverty traps, take control of their destinies, and achieve economic and social “lift-off” to development. Self help in the content of rural development is therefore the carrying out, of developmental and capital projects in the rural areas through community participation. It is a shift from the earlier rural development policy which was preoccupied with generation of food and fiber surpluses to all formulation of a national rural development strategy with emphasis on the alleviation of rural poverty and enhancement of the quality of rural life. This could be the reason why Oaikhena (2011:207) wrote that people are more committed to actions where they are involved in the relevant decision- making and are less competitive and more collaborative when they are working on joint goals. In view of this therefore, the problems facing communities – unemployment, poverty, job loss, environmental degradation, and loss of community control – need to be addressed in a holistic participatory way. As participation of members of a group make them feel more engaged in the process, hence creativity makes them more likely to care for the end result [Oaikhena, 2011:205]. In other to fully transform the community as envisaged, community participation in project planning and implementations universally is acknowledged as an essential input for the socio-economic transformation. Such local participation enables the people living in the community to identify problems, to prioritize them and to devise and design locally acceptable solutions to the problem and thus give them a desired sense of belonging which will ensure the success of the projects and programmes [Agboola, 1988]. Meanwhile, Paul (1987) as cited in World Bank (1998), said that community 8 participation in the context of development refers to "an active process whereby beneficiaries influence the direction and execution of development projects rather than merely receive a share of project benefits. It is an evolutionary process in which activities at the project or micro-level can create the conditions for increased popular participation in the planning and implementation of development programs at the local level". Thus the grassroots participation in development means consulting and involving the local people in the identification of local needs, and conception, formulation and implementation of any project in order to develop the necessary self- reliance and self-confidence needed among the rural people for accelerated development [Mbithi, 1974]. Benefit of Infrastructural Development in a Community Madu (2007) stressed that the importance of rural infrastructure provision lies in its capacity to sustain daily activities, quality of life and economic base in the rural areas. In other words, the quality of life and means of livelihood of the rural dwellers can be assessed by analyzing the availability of infrastructural facilities at their disposal. Sustainability is the long term availability of proper means that are necessary for a long term achievement of pre-specified goals. This is done through the provision of basic infrastructure to improve rural accessibility and the participation and perception of the rural people in their own affairs. Accordingly, the strategies for sustainable infrastructural community development in Nigeria, according to Eboh (1995), include the following: stabilize populations; -sufficiency) through rural compensation measures like selective poverty-targeted relief; 9 rural growth and employment by improving access to production resources and institutional services; -oriented development that is woven around local principles, skills and technologies; and cting the environment, by generating and facilitating, appropriate resource management systems (pp. 8 – 9). Based on the fore-going, Ogbazi (2006) posited that, the programme of action in community transformation as contained in the objectives of the National Policy on Rural Development should include the following: a. Adequate Supply of Infrastructural Facilities: The government's efforts should aim at raising the standard of living of the rural people through adequate inter-village communication such as good road network, electricity, pipe-borne water, recreational facilities, etc. Government should avoid cultural invasion on the rural people. b. Provision of Small and Medium-scale Industries: Government should stimulate rural industries, which must be based on rural raw materials available in that area. The small and medium-scale enterprises will turn out goods that will feed the urban and sub-urban-based industries. Such rural-based industries must be essentially labour- intensive rather than capital-intensive since the required manpower must be indigenous and appropriate. It will therefore create large employment opportunity for rural youths. In doing so, the economic sector will be improved, and the youths would stay and develop their rural environment. c. Formation of Co-operative Societies: The formation of co-operatives eliminates the fat middlemen, and asserts the rights of the peasant farmers to negotiate the prices of their own product. It could help in checking the new spectre of exploitation by giving a voice to the farmers in the determination of the prices of their own goods. 10 d. Political Empowerment of the Rural People: The government must make politics to go beyond paternalistic decentralization of power to the lower community. The traditional relationship and the stereotypic mutual attitudes of urban and rural dwellers must be restructured. The silent majority, who are subject to deceptions and exploitations by the city demagogues, should be given opportunity to express their political awareness. They should be rid of their ignorance of political clout and illiteracy, which both conspired to rob the rural people of the realization of their power to change things around to their own advantage. The rural people should be encouraged to form discussion groups to articulate their problems and try to solve them inevitably. Efforts should be made to keep them abreast on government’s activities through the establishment of radio-listening and television-viewing centres [Diso, 2005]. Framework of Analysis Adam Smith’s work more than two centuries ago was to find the “nature and causes” of economic development, the contemporary notion of economic development emerged during the 1930s when economists were preoccupied by the issue of how to re-start the world’s economy and climb out of the depression. Thereafter, development studies for social and community change agents provided an opportunity for concrete, specific issues around which to educate, empower and mobilize grassroots citizens to control their own destinies. Issues on specific organization build the foundation around which an active citizenry can mobilize for broader community and social change. In addition, skill-building initiatives related to development strategies, go a long way to increase overall human capacity to engage in collective action. Increasing individual access to food, clothing, adequate transportation system, education and housing are among the “services” that development programs offer. While some may argue that “servicing people does not alleviate poverty”, it does play an instrumental role in meeting the basic needs that act as impediments to self- 11 actualization and collective action. In line with these assertions, Zimako (2009:37) advised that “it is only natural that elected politicians invest their efforts in the pursuit of national development and the provision of life-enhancing infrastructure”. Literacy programs, for example, are converted into powerful tools for popular education and the mobilization of community power. Summary/Conclusion Community development is a process which involves people learning and taking responsibility for their own lives, and people working toward their own transformation. Most of our communities today have witnessed one form of decay and neglect. This decay arose from the absence of maintenance of existing infrastructure and the total neglect of developmental effort. Transformation in its essence represents the whole gamut of changes by which an entire social system of a society is turned to diverse basic needs to meet the desires and aspirations of individuals and social groups within a community. Communities must be enabled to deal positively and decisively with the environmental problems confronting them, in other to pursue a wide range of activities that could easily lead to transformation. As a result, communities in Nigeria are in the majority in terms of population, and yet the neglect and sufferings they are encountering presently form the bases for impediment to effective information policy implementation. Also the rural communities' accessibility to pertinent information becomes extremely difficult and impractical. Development issues are directly connected to far larger issues, including increasing opportunities, enhancing the capacity of people, and the redistribution of resources and power. With an estimate of 97,000 rural communities their lives are characterized by misery, poverty, morbidity and under-development (Ekpo & Olaniyi, 1995). Hence, it has been widely recognized that the rural areas and people are characterized by the following: general poverty trap, low income and investment ratchet, underutilized 12 and/or unutilized natural resources, rapidly increasing population, under-employment and/or disguised employment, low productivity, especially of labour, low and traditional technology, limited enterprise or entrepreneurship, high level of illiteracy, ignorance, disease and malnutrition, near absence of social and physical infrastructures (like all-season roads, potable water, electricity, good schools, health centres, etc.), and political powerlessness, gullibility and level of general vulnerability (Lele & Adu-Nyako, 1991: 1 – 29). Recommendations 1. Greater community participation in road development and rehabilitation should be encouraged and a comprehensive transportation plan should be put in place at the local government level. It is hoped that this detailed research work will serve as a basis for the improvement and development of social amenities in the community which is a catalyst to community transformation. 2. There is the need for a local participation strategy to reflect the view of the community, as it can effectively contribute to national, state or local governments, through public policies coupled with community action. 3. In order to curb unprecedented urbanization there is the need for a sustainable development strategy to improve the quality of community management and foster an economically competitive environment. 4. NGOs should be encouraged to participate in community development and empowerment process. This could be through advocacy and fund sourcing on behalf of the communities. This fund could be channeled towards the provision of social amenities that are beneficial to the people. 5. Government should show the necessary leadership by matching words with action through evolving workable rural development approaches, proper co- ordination, funding and technical assistance. It should also encourage nation's 13 experts to make useful contributions with their talents. Government has a chief role of building and financing an enduring political, social, cultural and environmental structure on which rural development can thrive, through the encouragement and recognition of the roles of cooperatives, NGOs, and private initiatives as their grassroots' appeals to promote sustainable rural development. 6. The country should have the potentials of developing all sectors of human endeavour, as information services are fully enhanced and developed in the communities throughout the country. Taking into cognizance the present globalization process. 14 References Agboola, T. 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