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1.0 Introduction

This study examines Local government administration and the challenges of rural development; Case of Limbe III Sub-division. This chapter describes the background to the study. Also, it describes the statement of the problem, research questions, research objectives, research hypothesis, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definitions of key terms and overall organization of the study.

1.1 Background to the Study

Communal effort has not been a recent phenomenon. It dates back to the time of primitive communalism when people searched for their living communally. In the early state of man, he always sought ways of conquering nature. Bryne (1983;12) argues that the concept of community development is not new, that rather it is an old ideology. The reality in Bentham’s assertion that community development is a man in the society can be sustained by the fact that communities throughout history constructed and maintained their roads, bridges, square, sunk them well for good drinking water supply, and constructed their markets, village churches and village halls by community efforts.

The usefulness for the creation of local government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction among its populace. All forms of government, regimes or political systems have so far ensured the attainment of this goal. Such strategy for ensuring national administrative development and political efficacy is found in the concept and practice of local government. Whatever is the mode of government, local government has been essentially regarded as the path to, and guarantor of, national integration, administration and development (Omatsola, 2011;24).

According Ebob (2021;19) local Governments have and will continue to be one of the bold steps to development in different parts of the world and their importance and impact on daily activities of citizens cannot be over emphasized. Local government is the order of the Government closest to the people (Okolo and Onuoha; 2017;4). Local Government Administration is used as a form of devolution of powers of the state.   The existence of Local government has always been defended on the basis that it is a current aspect of the process of democratization and intensification of mass participation in the decision-making process. No political system is considered complete and democratic if it does not have a system of local government. The increasing demand for local government in every part of the world is being motivated by the desire of the rural populace to contribute directly in the affairs of their communities (Linn, 1992;6). 

Over the years, the importance of local dimension to development has been overstretched and local territorial authorities in Africa are emerging as key actors of development just like their Western and Asian counterparts (Linn, 1992; 54). In fact, the emphasis on local government administration worldwide has resulted in almost every country having some form of sub-national government structure either to maintain control or to deliver public services across the country, or both (Heymans, 2006; 18). These sub-national structures range from elected state, provincial, municipal or local governments with high degrees of autonomy, to local agents of the central state with minimum discretion (Devas 2008; 47). The World Bank Report (1994;19) indicates that there are about 150 constitutionally decentralized countries in the world with all countries in Africa having some sort of shared responsibility in governance among centralized and decentralized units. 

Local government in Cameroon context is established as the third tier of government, protected by the constitution, which comprise of democratically elected representative whose purpose is to provide basic services to the people at the grassroots (Adeyemi, 2013; 5). In the system of government like Cameroon, local government is usually the fifth tier of government. In a unitary system, like Britain, it usually exists as the second order government to the national level. However, what the local governments have in common, either in federal or unitary system of government is responsible for the most immediate needs of their citizens without any other body between them and individual. In other words, it is the order of government closest to the people (Ebob, 2021;19).

The centrality of rural development in poverty alleviation efforts in Africa is no longer a matter of conjecture. Over the last couple of decades, there has been a growing awareness in academic and policy making circles regarding the importance of institutions in development. A growing body of empirical work has been confirming the important role played by institutions in a wide variety of dimensions. Cameroon, like most African states, has used parastatals as the principal agents of socio-economic development, but the result has not been entirely successful. Ngwa (2005;14), in examining the activities of the Upper Nun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA) in the Ndop Region in the North West Province of Cameroon, comes to the conclusion that since these institutions were more or less run by government without rural representatives, they couldn’t achieve the expected results. The activities of this institution centered on bringing the benefits of modern agriculture to the local people as well as launch the region on the trajectory of sustained economic and social development which includes introduction of new crops and technology, provision of basic ancillary infrastructure and in general, raise the standard of living of the rural poor. The successes of the project were limited by the autonomy granted them. In effect, their activities were more or less dictated by the wishes of the government according to their interests and priorities.

The objectives of rural development in Cameroon include the following: Reducing the level of rural poverty and rural unemployment; Integration of the grassroots communities into the national socio-economic and political development through effective participation in their own affairs; Improve incomes of the rural people whose major economic activity is agriculture and non-farm activities such as craft, petty trading, among others; and Improve the quality of life of the people through the provision of basic necessities such as food, potable water, electricity supply, health-care services, schools, Therefore, this work seeks to contribute in illuminating the actual status of  Limbe III Sub division as regard community or rural development. The empirical analysis will show whether creation of local government is really for the sake of ensuring grassroots development or mere political compensation for the government loyalists. It is in this light that we chose to study the topic.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Challenges encountered as rural development in Cameroon has been a call for concern, however, over the years, efforts have been made to reform the local government system and to increase the participation of the people. Recently, following the just ended major national dialogue, decentralization was proposed as one of the resolutions where power was to be given to the local population to manage their own state of affairs than the centralized for government. Despite these reforms, there are still problems with the local government system like insufficient funding, lack of adequate human, material and financial resources in terms of quality and quantity to carry out its own activities, corruption and mismanagement of funds.

Gloomily, Cameroon local governments have not survived up to their potentials in terms of efficient service delivery to the rural developments. This is evident in the poor environmental state, deteriorating public school buildings, poor market facilities and limited health care centers. The provision of basic social services such as education and health, as well as maintenance of roads and public utilities within the jurisdictions of local government is now both a myth and hallucination (Agba, 2006;28).

Moreover, population living in the rural communities have failed to observe any momentous development, despite the strategic position the local government occupy in the scheme of affairs. Poverty is endemic and a stark reality that people die from unpreventable ailment. Farming which is the main occupation of rural dwellers is on a decline and the quality of primary education has fallen, healthcare delivery and access roads are in deplorable conditions (Eyong, 2007; 13). Several studies have been carried out in Cameroon on local government administration challenges and rural development but no good has been done to fill the gap. This has motivated this researcher to carry out a study on local government administration and challenges of rural development case of Limbe III Sub-division Cameroon.

1.3 Research question

1.3.1 General research question

What is the effect of local government administration on challenges of rural development in Limbe III Sub- division Cameroon?

1.3.2 Specific Research Question

  1. To What extent does corruption affect rural development in Limbe III Sub-division Cameroon?
  2. How does inadequate financing affect the ability of local government in contributing to rural development in Limbe III Sub-division Cameroon?
  3. What are some the measures that can be employed to enhance rural development in Limbe III Sub-division Cameroon?
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