Role of Voluntary Organizations in Community Development in Nigeria

3 March 2017

Role of Voluntary Organizations in Community development in Nigeria Submitted by Ekweruo Chigozie Kenneth. Bsc. Pub. Administration & L. G Studies University Of Nigeria Nsukka ABSTRACT Community development entails the provision of infrastructural facilities to the people. The provision of these social amenities can be attained through a number of ways and/or organizations which includes, the government, community development associations, Voluntary Organizations.

A Voluntary Organization or Volunteers Organization is any organization that uses the human resources of volunteers for achieving its main purpose. Community participation can be facilitated by the use of voluntary organizations. The importance of voluntary organizations with regards to community participation lies in the fact that the mobilization of resources and support for any type of development activity does not necessarily involve the totality of the people in a project community at the same time.

Role of Voluntary Organizations in Community Development in Nigeria Essay Example

Their full involvement can be achieved through the instrumentality of existing voluntary organizations. Voluntary organization abound in Nigeria communities. They include religious organization, Youth clubs, cultural organizations, village/town unions, age groups etc. These Organizations can be useful in enlisting the support of various groups like traders, farmers, Landlords, Youths, Women etc. They can equally contribute necessary human, material and financial resources for development purposes.

This Seminar paper therefore examines the roles of Voluntary organizations in Community development in Nigeria, their challenges and the need for government to partner with them in order to achieve the targeted objective in our rural communities. INTRODUCTION Poor performance of government in meeting the socio- economic quests of citizens has been identified as one of the reasons behind the proliferation of community based organizations (CBOs) in the new millennium.

Along this line, Wahab (2000) observed that people in developing nations have until recently looked up to their governments to meet their basic socio-economic demands. Of a truth, governments in African nations have evolved both top-down and bottom-up approaches to achieve sustainable development of their people. These include establishment of lead industries at key centers so as to create job opportunities, provide basic infrastructure and utilize regional natural and man-made resources to stimulate growth and economic development that would spread to lagging regions (Perroux, 1955; Abegunde, 2003).

Besides, Agbola (2002) noted that successive Nigerian governments have responded to both rural and urban problems by evolving poverty alleviation programmes to help stir development simultaneously at the grassroots. These programmes include the national directorate of employment (NDE), community banks, directorate of foods and rural roads infrastructure, better life for rural women, national poverty alleviation programme (NAPEP) among others.

The failure of governments’ top-down approach and lack of involvement of the people at the grassroots in the bottom-up strategy have weakened the confidence of the public in central authorities. Communities therefore seek solace in indigenous institutions, which pressurize government for attention to development problems in their communities and/or undertake development programmes and projects that they observe that are very needful in their immediate communities. The indigenous organizations are associated with self-help (Ogundipe, 2003).

They constitute the media for resources mobilization to confront local challenges. These include the finance and execution of projects, lobbying and nomination of representatives to government offices to air their views and press their needs and developing of human resources against future developmental needs of their immediate communities. Thus, their impacts have been felt in the areas of economic development, policy matters, health and infrastructure, environmental and physical development among others (Agbola, 1998; Akinola, 2000; Akinbode, 1974; Onibokun and Faniran, 1995).

Despite these accomplishments, many CBOs have rose and fell like old empires while some have had no significant impact since their establishment due to poor funding. This is more so because CBOs in African communities are micro-systems within the macro environment that is afflicted by economic regression, poverty and low standard of living. There is therefore the need to appraise the socio-economic status of existing voluntary organizations in the communities of developing nations like Nigeria and identify the degree f impact they have exerted on their physical environments. Objective of the study. The study assesses the role of Voluntary Organizations in Community development in Nigeria. Furthermore, this Seminar paper tries to look into the challenges faced by Voluntary organizations in Community development and ways government can come in to assist these community based organizations for effective performance in community development projects. The concept of community based organizations (cbos)

Community based organizations otherwise known as local organizations have been given different names in different places. These include ‘community development associations’, ‘neighbourhood councils’ and united community among others (Biddle and Biddle, 1968; Agbola,1998). Community based organizations are set up by collective efforts of indigenous people of homo or heterogeneous attributes but living or working within the same environment.

Their coming together creates conditions which broaden the base of self governance and diffusion of power through a wider circle of the population (Adeyemo, 2002; Adejumobi, 1991). It is seen as voluntary, non-profit, non-governmental and highly localized or neighbourhood institutions whose membership is placed on equal level and whose main goal is the improvement of the social and economic well being of every member (Abegunde, 2004). CBOs are localized institutions in that their spheres of influence hardly extend beyond their immediate communities or neighbourhood.

They are non-profit and non-governmental because all members contribute economically towards the fulfillment of their responsibilities to the immediate environment and not depend on government before fulfilling these (Claudia, 2003). Benefits accrued from members’ contributions to the associations are shared accordingly with fairness. They are concerned with the development problems of and development programme projects in their various areas (Esman and Upholt, 1984;Bralton, 1990).

They respond to community felt needs rather than market demand or pressure. Distinction has been made between community based organizations (CBO) and non-governmental organization (NGO) (CASSAD, 1992; Agbola, 1998). However, both scholars agreed that CBO and NGO have common attributes and their difference is a matter of “scale and location”. According to them, CBO suggests a simple institution that covers a relatively small area with local identity while NGO has a sophisticated and complex structure and covers a wider area and project.

From the example made by one of them, the rotary international qualifies as NGO but the rotary club of a community qualifies as CBO. In essence, community development is the essence of CBO. Through community development, efforts of the people are united with those of government authorities to improve the economic, social and cultural conditions of communities, so as to integrate them into the life of the nations and to enable their people to contribute fully to national progress (United Nations, 1963).

Along this line, Fakoya (1984) argued that community development provides avenue for people to organize themselves for planning action, define their common and individual needs and problems, make group and individual plans to meet their needs and solve their problems, execute these plans with a maximum reliance upon community resources and supplement these resources when necessary with services a nd materials from government and non-governmental agencies outside their communities.

In the same vein, Bamidele (1994) saw it as a process whereby both urban and rural communities are assisted to provide for themselves, with deliberate and conscious speed, those services and amenities they need but which neither the state government nor local government can provide. Significant in these is that community development is first the joint efforts of the people who would be the direct beneficiaries before government and non governmental organizations that could be termed initiators and supporters are involved and absorbed.

The degree of involvement of the former therefore determines the level of development in any given area. In another dimension, community development is not real until there is individual’s participation. Participation therefore embraces the initiators, supporters and the beneficiaries of any given development programme. According to Cary (1973), participation means open, popular and broad involvement of the people of the community in decisions that affect their lives.

To participate therefore means to share in decisions about goals and objectives, about what should be done, how and by whom. Participatory development is essential for sustainable development programme. It is an empowering process which seeks to change behavior through education, helps community to tap their own resources and skills and provides communities with the tools they may require to advance in the way they deemed fit (Geldof, 1994). Community based organizations open ways for participation at grassroots level.

It involves the local and indigenous people in the identification of their local needs and conception formulation and implementation of any project in order to develop the necessary self-reliance and self-confidence (Mbithi, 1974) in their immediate environment. According to Kolawole (1982), he believed that the word ‘local’ as conceived by Mbithi (1974) simply means the non-governmental individuals, voluntary organizations, indigenous social groups and collective members bound together by social and or traditional ties.

CBOs therefore serve as wheels for the vehicle of grass root participation in indigenous programmes and projects to satisfy local needs. Such participation as characterized in CBOs could be in cash or kind, levied or free choice. Although Agbaje (1990) have argued that CBO has freedom of entry or exit, Holdcraft (1982) observed that this freedom could be generalized with the exclusion of community based institutions organized by landlords, community or clan leaders, age group fans and trade unions among others.

On this, Ogundipe (2003) emphasized that what matters most is the development of the people’s communities through the mobilization of community efforts. Such efforts according to Abegunde (2004) are harmonized towards protection of citizens, provision of infrastructure, furnishing communities with necessary information, materials and opportunities and general upliftment of communities images among others. Voluntary organizations and physical development in Nigeria Evidence from the literature reveals the activities of Voluntary organizations in Nigeria (Olowu et al. 1991; Olomola, 2001; Oludimu, 1990; Ugal, 1992; Adejumobi, 1991; Adejumobi, 1991; Abegunde, 2004). For instance, the study conducted by Olomola (2001) in Lagos state revealed that Voluntary organizations in the state solely relied on internally generated revenue with very little aid from the government. This was why the Voluntary Organization that won the best CBO award in 1988 emanated from Lagos state. The organization in 1998 built a primary school, bank, court hall, community hall, post office and opened up several roads for vehicular usage (Olomola, 2001).

A study conducted by Abegunde (2004) on the activities of the Voluntary organizations in Atiba local government area of Osun state revealed that there were about 160 CBOs in the area. About 40% of these CBOs provided social facilities worth 17. 56 million naira to their immediate community. Similarly, Voluntary organizations in Any state were said to be economically buoyant enough to have constructed access roads within neighborhoods, built schools and health centres, provide potable water and see to the general welfare of their members without government’s assistance (Adejumobi,1991).

It was even recorded that the ultra modern maternity centre built by CBOs in Udi local government area of the state aroused no governments’ interest, in that the maternity could not take off for over 10 years after construction because of lack of personnel and equipments from the government of that area (Olomola, 2001). The experiences of CBOs in Kano state differed. Their government assisted them in discharging their responsibilities to the communities through fund provision (Adeju-mobi, 1991).

Their problems were the conflict of interest level of education of community development workers among the two tiers of government (state and local), low and poor public acceptance. Unlike in Oyo state, the people were receptive to CBOs activities but inadequate government support and economic status of members limited their operations (Adejumobi, 1991). Similar economic problem afflicted Voluntary organizations in Cross River state. Ugal (1992) discovered that CBOs in the state were not properly organized, ineffective in performance, made decisions in isolation and wasted their meager resources.

For instance it was recorded that they built schools and health centres without carrying the government along, thus the buildings lie idle without personnel and equipments from appropriate authorities (Ugal, 1992). In Rivers State, Oludimu (1990) showed that it was local customs and traditions that guide operations of the CBOs. Their inefficiency was as a result of irregular attendance at meetings. Unfortunately, it is in such meetings that they could generate funds and ideas, which are required for ensuring progress in CBOs activities.

Despite shortcomings of CBOs in some of the states in Nigeria, the fact remains that significant efforts have been made by the people in contributing to the socio-economic development of their immediate vicinity. If social and economic problems that impede effective participation of people are addressed, CBOs in Nigeria can contribute towards poverty alleviation and physical development of Nigerian communities. Government’s efforts in community development programmes in Nigeria: A review The idea of co-operation towards community development is a very common and age long phenomenon (Adejumobi, 1991).

Government in developing nations are aware of this but gave attention to it later than expected (Abegunde, 2004). The former approach toward development was by polarizing economic activities in cities, leaving lagging regions to fend for self-existence till spread and multiplier effects of industrial establishments at poles would transform their local economies (Chen and Ravallion, 2004). Available data revealed that 9 of the 12 states in Nigeria in 1976 expended N2, 571,269 on community development programmes in the second national development plan (Onibokun, 1972).

Another 9 states allocated N16,691,000 on similar projects during the third national development plan (Geldof, 1998). In year 2000, Oyo state government alone devoted N16, 162,000 for community development programmes. Available data from Sokoto state revealed that between 1991 and 1996, the government designed 8 programmes for community development activities and increased budgetary allocation for such from N450, 000 in 1991 to N2. 5 million in 1996. The federal government also designed different programmes that focused on rural and community development in the past few decades.

These include Operation Feed the Nation (1978), Directorate of Foods, Rural Roads and Infrastructure (1982), community Banks (1990), Better Life for Rural Women (1991), among others. Table 1 shows that the Federal Government expended a total sum of 46. 486 million Naira on community development within 1990–2000 (Federal Budget Estimates, 2000). Out of this, money expended to construct multi-purpose centres in various communities all over the country had the largest share of 30. 069 million Naira.

According to the Table below, the federal allocation to community development was as low as 200,000 naira in 1990, but rose to 23. 0 million naira in 2000. Apart from this low investment in community development programmes, many of these government activities both at the state and federal levels had little impact on the recipients because the beneficiaries were not involved at the initial stage of planning nor fully carried along at the final stage of execution (Akinola, 2000). These show that government’s contributions to CBOs in Nigeria were grossly inadequate.

There is the need for government to actively involve in CBOs. The issue of allocating money to and monitoring CBOs operations at federal level will slow development progress. However, divergent views surround government’s involvements in CBOs operations. Mandondon (1985) believed that CBOs are local initiatives and that interference from government may divert, misguide or adversely influence the CBOs members. United Nations (1963) had earlier contended for government involvement in CBOs, since men at the healms of affairs are residents of one community or the other.

Besides, government’s involvement can assist in integrating CBOs into local development plans. Whatever the case, government’s involvement must be within the permission of laws guiding CBOs operations among people at community level. In another dimension, such involvement must be guided by people’s permission. Such involvement can be in form of financial contributions to CBOs purses. Community development associations are practiced at local levels by people of like passion.

It is better that local governments who are closer to residents monitor CBOs operations than at federal level as it used to be. [pic] AGENTS OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND THEIR VARIOUS ROLES. There are various agents of community development in Nigeria, but we shall only consider here below some of them which include Town Union, Age-grade and social clubs, philanthropic organizations and fraternities, religious organizations and women associations. Town Improvement Unions Town improvement unions are for long been recognized as good instruments for Rural Developments.

In many parts of the country town unions have been known to have built and equipped primary and secondary schools, constructed roads and bridges, built markets, cottage hospitals, civic centers among others. There are many communities that today enjoyed electricity and pipe born water as a result of endeavours of town improvement unions. A classic example of what an improvement union can do is seen at Nnewi, a town in Anambra State. The Nnewi community, at the end of the Nigerian civil war was just a large rural community lacking in infrastructure.

The town’s improvement union, working in close consent with the entire community, decided that east or west their home was the best. Under this burning zeal for the development of their town, the town’s improvement union directed that every Nnewi trader or industrialist who has factories or trading outpost anywhere in the country should Endeavour to have a branch of such concern at Nnewi. The Nnewi branch should be designated the head quarters of the company irrespective of whether the home office was located in a shanty.

The writer from where this story was gotten from was a witness to the upsurge of nascent industries springing up at Nnewi when he was the District Officer in the area during the early 1970s. at the moment, one needs to visit Nnewi town to behold what common will is epitomized by the activity of the Town’s improvement Union. This type of zealousness is not restricted to Nnewi town. Various improvement Unions in the country have taken a cue from the Nnewi example and are pushing ahead in the development of their communities. Age grade and Social Clubs

Essentially, age grades and social clubs are in existence solely to see to the interests and welfare of their members. However, occasionally, age grades and social clubs contribute to community development either by paying community dues emblock for their members, or making donations towards the successful execution of certain community development projects. Some single-community age grades and social clubs erect on their own, Town Halls, Club Halls, Community schools, health centers, etc as part of their contributions towards the community development of their areas.

Philanthropic Organizations/Fraternities These may include the Rotary clubs, the Rotaract club, the Lion’s club, the Eckankar etc. sometimes these organizations undertake to erect some community development projects such as provision/extension of rural water supply, constructions of bus-stops, contribution towards the eradication of some communicable diseases etc. Religious Organizations The increasing tempo in religious activities in all Nigerian societies today has given fillip to the need for the evangelization of social development by various religious organizations and sects.

Especially as it concerns the mobilization of adherents about governmental policies and programmes, religious organization have helped much by way of disseminating information. In addition, in some rural communities, religious groups are known to have engaged in multifarious social works in form of projects that have direct impact on the lives of the entire community. Women Associations In the traditional setting, even before colonialism, women were entrusted with the responsibility of sweeping the roads and village squares. They also cleaned the streams. In the area of agriculture, the role of women cannot be under rated.

Although the land tenure system in Nigeria denies women ownership of land they often inter crop in their husband farms and gather crops such as beans, okro, cotton etc for family use or sale where there is a surplus. The role of women in accelerated rural development has grown with time. In the present, women have formed themselves into groups and cooperative societies and through these means, galvanized resources for numerous rural development activities. Women groups buy garry processing machines; establish sewing institute and poultry farms. Women assist in rural water supply and electricity by contributing money to that effect.

Recommendations In realization of the efforts and existence of these potentials from the town development unions and other voluntary organizations, there is need that the government should act as development partners to these voluntary organizations to produce effective results and generate new resources. The government/local governments need to work hand in hand with the voluntary organizations by giving them incentives and providing them with equipment and counterpart funds for their agricultural improvement activities, agro based industries and development projects.

When this is done, the community will be part of the projects. Therefore they will provide the required security to such projects. Also, it will guarantee that useless projects are not embarked upon. Furthermore, community development leaders should be regularly given training in community development skills to equip them for efficient work schedules and ensure proper co-ordination and to prevent excessive wasteful expenditure which is often the case with rural development projects. Conclusion The voluntary organizations as we can see do play vital roles in community development in Nigeria.

Anambra State is a good example of where such voluntary organizations play significant roles in community development. We therefore urge the various state governments in Nigeria to encourage the Voluntary organizations to contribute their quota to grass roots development in their various communities. REFERENCES Abegunde AA (2004). “Community Based Organizations in the Sustainable Development of the Rural Area of Atiba L. G. A. , Oyo State. J. Inst. Town Plan.. 17: 1-14 Adejumobi S (1991). “Processes and Problems of Community organization for self-reliance”.

Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Ibadan, Nigeria. Monograph Series no. 1. Anambra state of Nigeria (1987) Blue print for Rurual Development , Anambra State Official Document No. $ of 1987. Enugu. Government Printer. Anambra State of Nigeria (2007). State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (SEEDs) 2nd Edition. Bratton M (1990). “Non-Governmental Organizations in Africa”, Can They Influence Public Policy? ” Development and Change Vol. 21. Cary LJ (1973). “The Community Approach. ” In Long H. , et al (Edt. , Approaches to Community Development. Iowa: NUEA/ACT, 1973) pp. 39-40. CASSAD (1992). “Community Based Organisations as Vehicles for Socioeconomic Nwankwo BC. Dept of Public Administration. Kogi State University Ayigba. Enhancing Accelerated and Sustainable Rural Development through community participation. Obi V. A. O (2001) Modern Local Government Practice In Nigeria. Fulladu Publishing Company United Nations (1963). “Community Development and National Development: Report of an Ad Hoc Group of Experts”, UN. New York.

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