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The Role Of NGOs In Rural Development CHRDA(Center For Human Rights And Democracy In Africa ) in South West Region

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In the last decade, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have gained increased attention among scholars and practitioners of development. They become increasingly important agents of development process in the countries of the south (underdeveloped countries), in all their main areas of work such as Humanitarian relief, long term development, policy formation and political advocacy (ATTACK 1999)[1]. On the other hand, there’s a current view that NGOs constitute a variable alternative to government as channels of development assistance, particularly in the developing countries. Some of the NGOs’ functions and advantages, according to (STREETE 1997)[2] are:

    1 They are good at reaching and mobilizing the poor and remote communities.

     2 They help empower poor people to gain control of their lives and they work with and strengthen local institution.

    3 They carryout projects at lower costs and more efficiently than government agencies and

    4 They promote sustainable development.

In the present millennium Non-Governmental Organizations are voluntary clubs, societies, organisation, individuals,  associations , groups of people within the society or community that come together to achieve certain objectives (United Nations 1990). They may have similar identities and share some needs and aspirations. These organizations are nonprofit or business oriented. NGOs are organizations or societies that have little or no direct bearing with any of the three levels of Government. In most cases they do not have permanent paid officials {United Nations 1990}. There is increasing evidence that all three sectors of society government, private and civil society (NGOs) have important roles to play in a nations building and particularly in development efforts to improve the quality of lives of citizens. When they are able to work well together they mutually reinforce each other’s work and can together do what none of them can do on its own.

NGOs are organizations by people and operate independently from the government. The term stemmed from the United Nations to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government. The two main attributes of NGOs is that they do not make profit and they are not part of government. They have a wider mandate thus calling for their specialization. Most NGOs today specialize in specific areas like rural development, climate change, human rights protection, governance and disease control among others. This essay discusses how NGOs participate in rural development at various levels.

It is worth noting that NGOs play a fundamental role in enhancing development in rural areas, especially in the developing world. They initiate programs aimed at transforming the lives of people in rural areas from miserable to better status.  Because of the positive characteristics of most NGOs, it is easy to feel their impact since they are result-oriented. They put a lot emphasis on self-reliance through empowering people so that they do not remain beggars forever. Thus, NGOs have room for public participation in their activities, to make them effective towards achieving the desired results.

NGOs support different activities in rural areas, in the areas of agriculture, health, education and access to water among others. With agriculture, these organizations engage in research and guiding the rural dwellers on the best practices to adopt in order to improve their agricultural output. For example, many NGOs around the world have developed programs to fight food insecurity in various parts of the world. For example, the Hunger Project and Heifer offers tangible help to the people through training. Through their program, they help people to live sustainable livelihoods. They also give aid to people to boost them in kick-starting agricultural practices. As a result, they have achieve a wide range of successes, including people being able to meet their basic lives and lead a decent lifestyle. There is also food security and positive social change as people embrace certain values like self-reliance and not necessarily seeking aid from the government.

NGOs also play a major role in improving the education standards in rural areas. This is common where these organizations identify the needs in the education sector and respond with support action. Often times, NGOs offer awareness on the need to have education before rolling out action-oriented programs. A common trend is putting up schools in remote areas, where governments cannot serve effectively. Through such programs, the empower people in the village and empower them to compete favorably with those who are privileged and enjoy better learning facilities. This forms part of rural development as children go school and acquire skills and knowledge to better their lives. NGOs may also schools through development projects like constructing new classes, paying teachers or purchasing books for students.

They also help rural areas alleviate their health sectors. Some people argue that health is one of the sectors of the economy that receive massive support from NGOs. They get involved in the war against killer-diseases like malaria among children, HIV/AIDS, and access to clean water. In essence, they teach residents on how to deal with some diseases including treatment and prevention. For malaria, NGOs provide rural areas with treated mosquito nets. Moreover, they create awareness on how to prevent new HIV infections and help victims of the scourge.

According to Lembani (2019) in unison with Hobo (1996), declared that “Goal of rural development is sustainable improvement of livelihood for rural people.’’ If the local people are final beneficiaries of development assistance, the aim of rural development can be defined as the improvement of sustainable livelihoods (especially impoverished groups), with careful attention paid to local characteristics. Rural development is basically Improvement in livelihood of people in rural areas (poverty reduction).

The 21st century began with a new consensus that ending poverty is the central purpose of development. Supported by an unprecedented political commitment to international cooperation, the 2000 United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration, which outlined three central objectives of the global community for the 21st century: development and the eradication of poverty; peace and security; and democracy and human rights (UN, 2000). Accordingly, world leaders pledged to spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty. These were elaborated into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs

 De Haas (2005)[3] observed that development generally means the improvement of people’s lifestyles through improved education, incomes, skills development and employment. Development also means that people should be able to read and write, and in Africa this is a problem as most people are still illiterate (NetTel, 2004). Rural development has received a great deal of attention in development literature, national plans on political platforms and in the lending programmes of the most development aid donors. This is because it has now been realised that all countries should have programmes of rural development since rural areas are facing major problems in both developing and developed countries. However, the need for rural development is more pressing in developing countries where rural sectors is appreciably larger than urban sectors and where population is predominantly into agriculture as the basis of national income generation.

Rurality in Africa is a common phenomenon. Poverty in Africa is predominantly rural with more than 70 percent of the continent‘s poor people living in rural areas and depends on agriculture for food and livelihood, yet development assistance to agriculture is decreasing (FAO, 2007). From colonial periods to independence there have been many successive government efforts in Cameroon towards rural development. Every administration that comes try to bring development plans that will bring about the betterment of the living conditions of rural dwellers but this is not enough looking at the development gap between Cameroon and other countries that gained independence after which calls for other agent of development like international organisation and non-governmental organizations. Rural Areas cover a greater portion of the country‘s land area and function as home for majority of Cameroonians. It is also these areas that face seemingly intractable socio-economic challenges. The average income per head is lower in rural regions than in our towns and cities, while the skills base is narrow and the service sector is less developed (Brown, 2006)[4]

 In Cameroon rural people have limited access to basic social services, safe water, electricity, population increase, poor soil fertility and adherence to traditional methods of production has adversely affected productivity and yields of crops in rural areas. It is against this backdrop that development interventions in the rural areas are very urgent and crucial. It goes without saying that the country would make no headway if the rural setting isneglected.Development in the rural areas means that the standard of living of the populace will increase. Also, there is the likelihood that activities in the area will divert from Primary to Secondary and tertiary to improve the environment (Boakye, 2010). Resources are increasingly exploited by outsiders, with few benefits flowing to indigenous communities and with little regard for the natural environment and this is why there is the need for rural development to curb rural poverty. A lot of communities upon realizing have sought to help them by supporting and funding their own project, nonetheless they do this with a lot of problems, most seriously of which include finance, technical know-how and lack of logistics. After realizing the failure of government they needed to avert the continuous economic decline, delay and falling standards of living and to bridge the gap between the rural and urban areas, government call for self-help and self-reliance in terms of development efforts.


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