Public Administration Project Topics

The Role of Non-governmental Organizations in the Development of Rural Areas

The Role of Non-governmental Organizations in the Development of Rural Areas


The Role of Non-governmental Organizations in the Development of Rural Areas (a Case Study of Community Self-help Organization in Awgu Local Government Area).




        Relevant literature was reviewed under the following headings: –

  • The concept of NGO’s
  • The concept of Rural Organization
  • Registration of Non-Governmental Organization
  • Types of Non-Governmental Organization
  • Objectives of Rural Development
  • Basic functions of Non-governmental organization
  • NGO’s as a means to improve rural development.


The term NGO has been defined by various scholars from their respective perspectives. The United nations children’s fund (1995) perceive NGO’s as organization or loose associations which are composed of people working together to address a need. They went further to give basic elements of NGO’s as: –


  1. An NGO is primarily an intermediate organization that is development oriented.
  2. Non-profit oriented.
  3. Non-government in terms of organization, membership and funding.
  4. A voluntary organization.  

        Nma Onyechere (2001) defines Non-Governmental Organizations as voluntary non-governmental agencies aimed at complementary governments efforts.

        ESOU (2000) defines a non-governmental organization as “those social and related organization set up for the pursuit of charitable purposes”.

        NGO’s have made operational base, thus they operate outside their base. The registration of NGO must be with the federal government through the cooperate affairs commission and in accordance with the companies and Allied Matters Decree (1990) on the right to form a company. NGO can be formed by an individual or group of individuals but in any case, it is important to understand and appreciate the motivation behind establishing the organization.

        The role of NGO’s in community development most especially in the third world countries can not be over emphasized. It is with no doubt that NGO’s has contributed immensely in trying to ameliorate the problem of under development in some remote area in our contemporary society. The notion is that government and it’s agencies if left alone may not be able to carter for the aspiration of it’s citizens. However, in other to ameliorate those social and economic problem that retard the economy of every nation not to attend to it’s level of sustainable development that will accommodate the entire society and metamorphose them to a sustainable level of development which will improve the livelihood of the people. Base on this notion, private individuals, societies, communities and countries of the world have come together and organize themselves in different form to become the third sector of the economy by engaging into self-help and participatory development strategy in order to contribute positively towards the betterment of their society.

        Evidently, the immense contribution from NGO’s has elevated the organization to act as middle man between the government and the community at large. It could be categorically stated that the contributions made by the NGO’s has elevated some deserted and shanty communities in this by releasing them from marginalization by our selfish and hopeless government which make empty promises and obtain their vote and go away without attaining to the compromise that is being made to the people. By and large, NGO’s with it’s immense contribution to the development of the society has been globalized and it’s range of functions has also been grown from developing a specific community to the national development at large. For instance, some international NGO’s and regional NGO’s have one way or the other being so supportive to most of the underdevelopment nation of the world most especially, some of the third word countries. NGO’s and it’s operation has played enormous role in bringing development to the society which include but not limited to the following: –

  • Development and Operation of Infrastructure: Community based organization and cooperatives can acquire, subdivide and develop land, construct housing, provide infrastructure and operate and maintain infrastructure such as wells or public toilet and solid waste collection services. They also develop building materials supply centers and other rural-based economic enterprise.    
  • Supporting Innovation, Demonstration and Pilot Projects: NGO have the advantage of selecting particular places for innovative projects and specify in advance the length of time which will be supporting the project – overcoming some of the shortcoming that face in this respect. NGO’s can also be pilots for larger government projects by virtue of their ability to act more quickly than the government bureaucracy.
  • Facilitating Communication: – NGO’s use interpersonal methods of communication, and study the right entry points whereby they gain the trust of the community they seek to benefit. They would also have a good idea of the feasibility of the project they take up. The significance of this role to the government is that NGO’s can communicate to the policy making levels of government, information about the lives, capabilities, attitudes and cultural characteristics of people at the local level. NGO’s can facilitate communication upward from people to the government and downward from the government to the people. Communication upwards involves informing government about what local people are thinking, doing and feeling while communication downwards involves informing local people about what the government is planning and doing, which means they act as the mediator between the government and the people.
  • Technical Assistance and Training: – Training institutions and NGO’s can develop a technical assistance and training capacity and use this to assist both (CBO’s) community based organizations and government.
  • Research, Monitoring and Evaluation:- Innovative activities need to be carefully documented and shared- effective participatory monitoring would permit the sharing of results with the people themselves as well as with the project staff.
  • Advocacy for and with the poor: – In some cases, NGO’s becomes spokes person for the poor and attempt to influence government policies and programmes on their behalf. This may be done through a variety of means ranging from demonstration and pilot projects to participation in public forums and the formulation of government policy and plans, to publicizing research results and case studies of the poor. Thus NGO’s play roles from advocates for the poor to implementers of government programs, from agitators and critics to partners and advisors, from sponsor of pilot project to mediators.      
  • The Concept of Rural Development Rural development is a process whereby rural dwellers come together to perform various functions in order to give a face-lift to their immediate environment or rural area. Therefore, it is a collective effort where people come together to help in charting the course to the improvement and development of their immediate environment or rural area (Aroh, 1997). Emezi (1979) simply defined rural development as “effort provided for advancement of communities”. He stated that major emphasis of the concept was upon those activities, which aim at promoting the improvement of the basic condition of the rural non-material needs. Anyanwu (1981) saw rural development as education in the fullest and best sense for the stimulation for the desire for better things and odds to attain such better things. Rural area according to him strives to educate and motivate people for self-help with a view to developing responsible, local leadership among them, as well as inculcating in them a sense of citizenship and a spirit of civil consciousness. The above definition might lead to the conclusion that the people of the rural area already know what they want to do and richly organize themselves for that without outside help. Here, one sees the essence of using the local effort and available resources of the people in contributing to national development. A careful examination of some of these definitions reveals that the over-riding objectives of rural area action is to provide better living conditions for the whole rural area either by the initiative of the people themselves or through some catalyst which may be government or voluntary agency. The essence of using the local effort and available resources of the people in contributing to national development.


In Nigeria non-governmental organizations are registered by government ministry or corporate affairs commission. The essence is to provide a legal framework for their activities and operations.

        According to UNICEF (1995) “every NGO should be registered with government or it’s agency or some other recognized body to provide a legal framework for it’s activities. NGO registration with corporate affairs commission gives the agency a more solid base for operation as it is internationally recognized as against a state ministry’s registration. A registered NGO must enjoy the attributes of a corporation which include, corporate personality and perpetual succession. It will also enjoy tax exemptions. A registered NGO, upon dissolution or wandering up as the case may be where there remain any poverty whatsoever after selling all the liabilities and debt accruing to any one of those bodies, the property so remaining shall not be distributed amongst the members but transferred to a body with similar objectives as the body wound up or dissolved.        


Registration process confers a member of benefits on registered organization. All attributes of corporation apply registered association such as: –

  1. It confers corporate personality on the association as a distinct legal person who can sue or be sued, subject to legal duties and entailed to legal rights from those of it’s members.
    1. It gives power to own, acquire, hold or dispose of any property movable or immovable; example land.
  • Perpetual succession and common seal.
  1. Power to sue and to be sued in it’s corporate name.
  2. General tax exemptions example capital gain tax and companies income tax.
  3. Sanctity of name – notice effects of registration according to companies and allied matters Decree (1990) stipulate that “as from the date of incorporation, the subscriber of the memorandum together with such other persons as may from time to time, become members of the company, shall be a body corporate by the name contained in the memorandum, capable forthright of exercising all the powers and functions of an incorporated company.
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        These are organization which focus their activities and programmes on growth. Their major concern and effort concentrate on developing and training of the labour force they includes, labour unions e.g. the Romans Church and other religious groups, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Awgu Development Union (ADU) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) etc.

Umbrella and Network Group

        An umbrella organization can be defined as a general agency made up of many other groups e.g. (CAN) Christian Association of Nigeria.

Special Interest Groups

        These are agencies concerned with one particular group or that have special focus in a particular subject area. Their concern is to intervene on issues that touch their interest examples are manufacturing association of Nigeria (MAN), Town union, market union, farmers co-operative group (FCG)

Town Union

        They help in improving the social life of their communities and bringing moderation in the area of excesses. Some town union engage in provision of pipe borne water, rural electrification, construction of accessible roads. Building of post offices, postal agencies and health centres which serve the health need of the communities before the opening of government general hospital in the area.

        Most town union has gone further to legislate upon marriage and burial ceremonies, see that the frivolous spending and period of time associated in them are entailed.

Farmers Co-operative Groups

        This NGO as one of the interest group, they base their major interest in farming. It plays a vital role in the development of rural area, they co-ordinate mutual efforts, group collectivity and also provide a receptive medium for a comprehensive package of services considered necessary for increased economic productivity in the rural areas.

        According to Ebebe (1998) farmers co-operatives are established to solve the problem of production by increasing production to overcome food shortages.

Advocacy Agencies

        Advocacy means the act of pleading on behalf of another person. This advocacy agencies are organizations that speaks, write or support some causes in pursuit of peace, justice, equity or the like for better human interaction and existence e.g. constitutional right projects.

Charitable Groups

        These agencies aim and donate to the needy. They are organizations, which dispense relief to the poor examples like Catholic, Anglican, Methodist etc. Other agencies like Child Trust Action, has associated in sourcing scholarship for indigent children equipping disable persons with walking, hearing and reading aids non-governmental organizations can be seen as those agencies that are non-profit, non-political, social and  people-oriented founded to assist those in need and towards better human interactions and development in the society.


        Viewing from the objectives of rural development one will see the important point to make desire put in rural development is a multi sectoral and intersectoral and multi disciplinary in scope. The major objectives of rural development are summarized.

  1. It is to improve the income generating capacity and the standard of living of the rural areas by satisfying the basic need of the rural areas such as electricity, security, food shelter, clothing and employment.
  2. It is to improve the collection of data and statistic on rural situations and demographic variables for relevant planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation.
  3. It is to ensure more equitable distribution of income and also to narrow the gap between the urban rich people and rural poor people by up grading their skill and earning capability of those living in the rural areas.
  4. To stem the rid of rural and urban participation migration and attendant problems.
  5. To increase employment opportunities in rural areas and also to make them to be productive and less vulnerable in national hazards.


        Community participation in rural development is important instrument and a sure way to the speedy development of the rural areas in Nigeria.

        Self help democratizes the development process and arises from felt need of the people themselves rather than assumed needs from the government. It maximizes man involvement responsibility and satisfaction. The benefits of self help strategy is enormous and has been successfully put by Brady. According to Brady (1990: 34) self-help is the best road to development worth taking. It has it’s roots in the people of a nation, touches their daily lives, rejects the nation of their inferiority and offers them a pride and a part in the government. In the history of rural development in Nigeria, community self-help activities have been prominent. Nevertheless, various production organizations both individual and jointly owned, has contributed immensely in the development of rural areas. Apart from the goods and services, they provide employment opportunities for them. This is no little way of improving social and economic well being of the people.

        A good percentage of the rural population who would have been subjected to abject poverty are gainfully employed by this organizations. This helps for the attainments of the major objectives of rural development, which includes improved productivity, increased employment and high income for target groups.

Basic Functions of Non-Government Organization

        The basic functions of NGO’s, according to Onwe S. Onwe  (1999: 54) includes:

  1. Promotion of economic stability of the country.
  2. Promotion of certain welfare services of the NBA to certain categories of handicapped people.
  • The education of their members and the general public through their media propaganda.
  1. They expose special official error or injustice of the government.
  2. They provide specialized information and assistance in implementation of registration.
  3. They act as watch dogs over public policy and administration in between elections.
  • They may act as important link between the government and the people vice-versa.
  • As many of them are experienced technocrats, expert advice be made available to the state apparatus whenever necessary.

Achievement of this Community Self-help in Awgu Local Government Area                   

        According to the chairman of the association whom I met at Awgu local government area of Enugu State, he fold me that for so many years that the government has not been doing anything for them, that they do everything on their own. He also said that since they found this organization called Awgu co-operative union since the existence of this union their localities started to change in different aspect.

        Through the effort of this organization, some of the social amenities needed in this locality has been provided by the organization e.g. Bore hole, Sign post electricity, health centers, Bus stops, building of post offices etc.

        This organization has also helped in reducing time wasting and those big things in marriage and burial, money collected from the defaulters are put into the purse for the development projects.

         They provide finance for those farmers who doesn’t have enough fund to finance their farming business during farming season and they do this with low interest. This things are real because I saw it with my own eyes.


         William S.K. (1973: 34) in his article, “the world bank and the peasant problem” which he said that the rural sectors as a whole lack behind the rest of the economy and according to him, the low prices paid by these in the urban areas for farm produce have a market affection, agricultural development which is the main stay of those in the rural areas which they said that heart to heart development of a country is the question of how the economy of that town and rural sector will grow in harmony. Mr. Ijere M.C. in his tithes “leading issue in Nigeria rural development” which be accused the success with the drumming of the ear and head of the rural dwellers and which is the failure of the previous regime rather than them to develop the strategies that include authoritarian handouts from the administration prescribe the facilities that is suitable for these rural area and secondly development from below exemplify in the content of NGO’s that has been tried in the past and in an attempt for them to solve the poverty problem in the rural area of Nigeria which the strategies however yielded out negative results.

         Mr. Ajegbu, H.L. (1996: 96) summarizes his impression about rural development as area that are still largely incoherent with unco-ordinated efforts and programmes within individuals settlement that has raise various development planning problems at a regional and national levels which is a need for better co-ordinating of the government, individual effort and rural area that is based on the achievement of a rural development.


         This chapter started by explaining the various theory of non-governmental organization as posited by scholars. It also talked about the concept of rural development, the registration of non-governmental organizations are made known to the people and the objectives of rural development and the types and functions of non-governmental organizations. Also a critical analysis of how non-governmental organizations help in the improvement of rural development. 

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