Role of Voluntary Organizations in Community Development in Nigeria

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Role of Voluntary Organizations in Community development in Nigeria Submitted by Ekweruo Chigozie Kenneth.
Bsc. Pub.Administration & L.G Studies
University Of Nigeria Nsukka

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. 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.

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,...
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