Community Development Efforts of Women in the Economic Development in Nigeria.

Community Development Efforts of Women in the Economic Development in Nigeria.

Community Development – The study will place emphasis on the community development efforts of women in the economic development in Nigeria.Community development involves some kind of co-operative actions by every member of a particular community to improve the well being or welfare of town members, Battern, R.T.R. (1957, p.8) in recent times, there has been noticeable change in people’s community development as the great provider.  There is now remarkable awareness that the people can now develop their community through their own efforts and with their own resources, since the states or local government, government to which people look upon her help could not attract enough revenue from the federal government to come to their rescue.

It is against this background that people organized themselves into groups for self-help activities in communities most of these condition of their members and the community in general.  Many areas they focus their attentions include the construction and building of rural road, schools, health centers, village halls, clinics, market, garri processing machines, oil processing machines and so on.

In Ethiope East for instance with a particular reference to Eku where most of these infrastructure are not available, women as vehicles for community development have now found themselves providing some of these amenities through their various groups.  It is based on this that the research sought to identify the extent those women groups have gone in their development activities since their men are chiming to be at the forefront of every development activities.

But if the recent development in the affairs and attitude of women towards economics development are anything to go by them, I can be in a better positions to appreciate the roles played by the recent past.  First ladies of this nation of Nigeria for example.  Think of the development initiatives and activities carried out by Mrs. Maryam Babangida under the better life for rural women programmes.  Recall the activities of Mrs. Maryam Abacha under FEAP.

In the international forum, mention must be made of reputable women like Imelda Marcus of the Philippines, Margate Ihatcher of Britain Winnie Mandela of South Africa and recently modline Albright to mention but a few.

Women natural are tender hearted, no wonder their roles in the family are indispensable, those roles are variously carried are into their immediate environment, hence they (women) are able to identify easily those economic areas where their activities greatly affects and enhance the lives of many.  It is expect therefore that these work will contribute its quota to the eradication of this nation that the place of the women is in the kitchen, they deserve mush more positive recognition then that as shall be revealed by this work.


The problem this study out to examine is the extent women in Ethiope East with a particular reference to Eku Community have been involved in community development, since literature an women and development reviewed depicts women as the backbone of community development.

The need there arise to discover how Eku women have tried to accomplish this through their various projects and programmes.  How their efforts have enhanced the quality of life of Eku people in general.

1.3            PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The sole aim of this research is to study the various contributions of Eku women to the community/economic development.  Because of this, the study has set out to investigation that issue with the following aim:-

  1. To examine the characteristics of females regarded as women.
  2. To find out the various community project(s) or programmes(s) embarked upon by these women.
  3. To find out their objectives for embarking on such project(s) or programme(s).
  4. To find out whether their activities promote hamper development.
  5. To find out how the project(s) or programme(s) are being financed.
  6. To find out the problems the women encounter in carrying out their community development programme.

1.4            SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study is intended to examine the various contributions of women in Ethiope with reference to Eku in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State.  The contribution made by women in other neigbouring communities are however not be included.

Consequently, the study is going to focus on the various project(s) or programmes(s) of women groups involved in community development in Eku.  The area to be studied are Igun, Samagidi, Sanubi and Echi.

In each village, sample of all women groups that take part in community development project(s) or programme(s) are to be studied.  The study specially will be find out the extent to which women have used these projects or programmes in contributing to economic/community development.


A hypothesis is an intelligent guess of the solution to the research problem.  A hypothesis may also viewed as a conjectural proposition, an informed, intelligent guess about the solution to the problem (Orjih, 1996. 145) the following are the research hypothesis:

Ho:     The various community development project embarked by women do not bring new things.

Hi:       The various community development projects embarked by women have brought new things.

Ho:     Women do not encounter problems while carrying out the projects.

Hi:       Women encounter problems while carrying out the projects.

Ho:     The objectives of the projects are not well understood by other women in the community.

Hi:       The objectives of the projects are well understood by the other women in the community.


Research is carried out because we want to solve a problem(s) and if the problem is solved that means it will benefit those who are affected by the problem, Ozo, Odo Anih, Ugwu (1999, p. 30).

It is clear that this that type of study never been made in some community including Eku.  Although the research is carried out to fulfill an academic requirement it will also go beyond that scope encouraging more meaningful and conscious development efforts on the part of women.

This study will also well help to stimulate community development department of Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State to seek the opinion of women in planning any community development.  This will also serve as a guide to other researcher.

2.1            BACKGROUND AND CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTCommunity development has been a universal concept applied to national programmes for development.  The concept and practice of community development has never been a new phenomenon in Nigeria specifically or in the world generally.  This was reflected in Battern’s statement “I must make one preliminary point enthusiasts for community development sometime speak or write about it (community development) as if it was to irritate the very many people who feel that community development is not new, but that its principles were infact applied by a multitude of individual government offices and other to such a term as community development”.

This is true, and every real sense, community development as we recognize it today is base on and had been an indigenous mechanism and techniques employed by many rural communities in solving their problems.  Onwuamalem (1981:23) state that the history of community development in Nigeria is traceable to the days of eastern Nigeria as shown by the fact that mutual co-operation existed among families and groups.  He further revealed that it received some encouragement from Chadwick, an Administrative officer in the former Eastern Nigeria who activated communities in Udi in Enugu State to build school, roads, churches, markets etc.  During this time, the people were short in a film captioned “Day Break in Udi”.  This film was shown around in every village and town of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, which yielded positive results in that almost every community embarked on one form at self-help project or the other.  It was on this basis that community development was said to have been practiced first in Udi through West Africa Professor Jim Lots (1974:84-85) noted that if nothing else has come out at community development projects since the second world war the realization that traditional societies have self-help mechanisms that exist before the concept of community development was discovered by the western world should not be apparent.

For many decades, people have gathered themselves together to construct town halls, palaces market squares, roads and other infrastructure facilities in their community so as to make life sweet and enjoyable.  What is being said is that the concept of community development as self-help activities has been with us since time immemorial.

In Eku today noteworthy developments were brought about through self-help the general hospitals, pos office, market schools both primary and secondary, etc are all outcome of the community’s efforts.

Community development can be seen as planned and organized efforts of people to help themselves to acquire the attitude, skills and concepts required for their democratic participation in the effective solution of a wide range of community development problems continuing, the United Nations implicitly defined community development thus “the process by which the efforts of the people themselves are united with or without those of government to improve the economic social and cultural condition of communities to integrate those community into the life of national and to enable them to contribute fully to national progress” one element that runs all the above definitions is the people’s initiatives to find lasting solutions to their individual and common problems, relying on their own resources as much as possible and assistance from outside the community if any, as I said earlier, Eku town has not been left out of the wheel of community development.  Based on this the women of Eku have contributed much to the development of Eku in town of social and economic ventures, lie building of oil processing hills, market stalls, town halls etc.


Literature on women and development reviewed pointed to the varying opinions as regards to their contribution to Economic/Community Development.  No matter what these opinion are “as mothers of this nation women have a role to play towards the achievement of those things which will enhance the quality of life of our people, and with humility, hard work and co-operation, dedication and loyalty, women can make the country a better place for us to live” (Sunday Times, April 4: 1982:8) UNESCO pointed out that one of the outstanding features of African women is their full involvement is subsistence production and in supplying food to their facilities.  They contribute 60-90 percent of agricultural labour on their small-scale farms.  No wonder the United Nations General Assembly declare 1975 as the international women’s year which reflected the increasing involvement women in all spheres of human endeavour.

UNICEF sees women as active agent in programmes delivery; as organized ground playing significant roles in managing community resources and making decision governing resources allocation; and as individuals serving the community as health and nutrition agents, water and sanitation monitors, adult literacy trainers and motivators.

According to ijere (1992:31) women form the backbone of rural development.  They are found in agriculture and outside it.  In the household, they hold an assailable pre-eminence tending the children and even the husbands.  The degree in disorganization and confirms the extent of their importance.

Wainaina (1987:101-102) stated that in the area of health particularly, many primary health care, for family planning, for training women of the community level to provide services.  Communities are leaning even more heavily than ever on women to provide services like water and day care.

Statistic have shown that 50 percent of rural population are women and they bear the brunt of the difficult life in rural areas.  They farm, harvest and market their produce and are in charge of the physical well being of the population that is children and men.  The emphasis of vibrant rural development programme must be the development of the physical and mental well-being of the rural women.

Literature have revealed the unlimited roles of women in development efforts.  Communities that have well developed and articulated women organization system have set a pace over other as regards physical, social and economic development.  According to Ibeji (1981:9) he stated that women organization engaged in community development such as maintenance of market places, sweeping village squares and some time constructions of tangible infrastructures and maintenance of law and order as well as fighting for and winning their rights.  In modern times, women associations or organizations have organized development project of programmes either by themselves or through the complement of men or the government.

Women involvement in Economic development is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is all over the world.  In Indonesia, their women embarked on many projects with the sole aim of bringing about development in their communities.  These women form groups, some producing clothing, balik, women articles, palm sugar, plaited bamboo products, roof titles, silk fabric and embroidery with assistance from the NGOs and the government of the Netherlands.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (1988) “In Bolivia, faced with the crisis of survival, women in the party towns organized commercial support destitute neigbours”.  Women organizations, such as the housewives committees have been vocal and often militant in their protest about the social costs of their country’s debts.

With the full knowledge of the importance of “self-reliance strategies the United Nations Decade for women has enable women” to come out of their homes organize with into women, establish their non-formal sector work into viable economic ventures, obtain loans earn income and support their homes”.

Women have been know for their efforts to maintain and manage what ever resource they have.  In line with this, Huston (1988:68) had this to say about women making do with a little is one of the things that women do well.  Stretching family budgets to cover the cost of food, fuel, and education is as much a cause of pride in the developing as in the industrialized nations”.

Lastly, the philosophic objective of economic development programmes which include the attainment of universal goals of eliminating poverty hunger, ignorance, sickness are what the women have set out to achieve in the community setting.  In this regard, Ijere (1991:43) made it clear that “Any programme of rural transformation that ignores the women does so as its own risks”.

2.3            IMPEDIMENTS

It has be revealed by researches that a number of programmes aimed at uplifting the rural women have filed primarily because they were not appropriately sited as well as the fact that women themselves were not involved in the decision to reflect their felt need.

Ijere (1992:54-55) stated that despite the striking process by women in economic and educational spheres today, many policy – markers and community leaders consider women fit only for the obstacles to women’s effective participation in economic development process.

According to him non-consultation with women at the planning stage of development can hamper their contribution towards community development.  Community building markets, access roads, civic centers or maternity homes hardly consider it necessary to ask the women’s view as regards to their needs.  Instead the men will assume what they think their wives need.  After the decision has been taken, the women are called upon to implement them especially when the going becomes difficult for the men to bear.  Unicef (1988) also noted this non-consultation of women even in the project they have greatest part in thus resources have been directed towards men even in crop production, as shown by research on irrigated and swamp rice in the Gambia, and subsequent in instigation have confirmed this in other rice growing African countries.  But when new projects were designed, the project management discusses proposals with men, not women.  Men were invited to take part in the construction work under food-for work programmes so that the immediate benefits accrues to them.  No benefits were received by the women.

The result of this is Gambia led to the women loss it interest in the cultivation of the new swamps, leading to slow production of rice.

Despite the acknowledged predominance of women in agriculture in many part of the world, women have continued to be left out of agricultural strategies.  In Africa, 85% of rural women are involved in agriculture, where they produce and process as much as 80% of family food for consumption.  “Most projects and settlement schemes have denied women title to land, and women generally lack power, assets, and participation in formal institution to heir view, knowledge and their share of available resources (Unicef, 1988).  If women are given this opportunity they are vigorous enter preneurial agent who can through their efforts willing fully transform our communities to a better place for all to live in.

According to Ijere (1992:57) “community banks and government agencies frown at women seeking funds to set-up income – yielding ventures.  There first reaction is why is the husband not taking this step?  This lack of equal opportunities has reduced women contribution to economic development.  It was revealed in a recent study by the bureau of women and younger worker of the department of labour and employment that women suffer a lot of humiliation, infact, they suffer extreme degradation, sexual harassment and even rape.  In addition contact substitution, wage discrimination, ill-treatment by employers and other degrading factors.  In a place where women under all these, how one expect them to perform magic?  Since women are seen as a vital tool in economic development, they should also be given equal opportunities in all human endeavours.  It has also been reported by Unicef (1988) that women in agriculture in Nigeria suffered severely, as they did not have adequate access to credit.  As fore women they have experienced a reduction in services in the area of health, education and training child-care facilities, in some instances having to pay for such service out of their already limited finance.

Another impediment is on the mental and physical well-being of the women which have been neglected.  According to Boulin (1988:104) too much work, bad health and numerous pregnancies, negative attitude of men towards women hinders women’s contribution to economic development.

Cultural barriers are seen as soon of the major constraints to women’s participation in economic development.  Today almost all Arab government recognize that full social and economic progress cannot be attained unless women play a strongly role in public life as a work force or as intelligent wives and mother of further generations.  They realized that their society cannot achieved real progress towards mode migration with virtually half of the population in prison (purdah).  In Northern Nigeria this issue of purdah is also applicable which hinders women’s contribution to economic or even national development.  But presently we thank the various wives of our heads of state, both present and past for the initiation of the various women economic/community development programmes.


Social and economic development cannot in fact be achieved without the fully participation of woman both as contributors and beneficiaries.  Looking at the problems in our society to day one would believed that in order to solve these problems like poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, food production and a host of other women must be involved.

In treating this issue a lot of literature have been written on it and other efforts put together.  In this view the better life programmes in September 14th 1987, was initiated out of genuine in concern over the plight of millions of women who fool from down to dusk to ensure the existence of their families.  According to Beulink (1988:128)” our first priority is for women to arrive at the conviction that economic and monetary and financial affairs are not only the sole concern of men, but have a vital bearing on our own (women) lives as well”, Maryam Babangida told women at their Abuja workshop in 1987, they this is the beginning of a new movement which strives to ensure a better like for the rural women through the elimination of hunger, poverty and disease”.  All these have been the effort of women to up lift their standard.

The United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) state that its priority concern is to ensure the integration of women as participant and beneficiaries in all its development programmes and projects, not only because women are significant contributors to economic and social development is possible only if women are involved.

Ijere (1992:81-820 suggested some solutions to the women’s limited role in community development thus: there should be greater use made of such indigenous savings and rotating clubs as the issue and age grades.  They are valuable and stable in many rural communities and can be modernized to achieve greater heights in the future.  He went further to say that building up viable projects through cooperation will also teach women how to lead or follow other as chairpersons, secretary etc they will enable members to save and accumulate scare capital for investment.

Through co-operatives they can received loan from banks and the ministries in the rural areas such as soap-making, garri processing, rice milling, oil processing, mill etc. some of these, Eku community has been doing.

Under this efforts have been carried out through self-help project throughout the world.  In Bolivia, mother clubs, as traditional community organization for women, undertake various activities through women cooperatives, which aimed at improving the health state of mothers and their families.  In one project assisted by the World Food Programme (WFP) food aid is used to help indigenous women in the Andean highlands increasing their clubs since WFD food rations are sold by the club to their members for half their market value.

Education is seen as a pre-requisite and key factor in raising women’s awareness and empowering them to become active participants in the national development process.  Women should be allowed equal development opportunities with men in order for them to be able to fully contribute their quote in economic development.

World bank also agreed that development programmes like agricultural extension and agricultural credit should be provide for women in order to improve their agricultural produces.

According to Bernable (1988:64) policy measures have been taken to address the employment problem of women with the objectives of reducing the unemployment rate of the female’s labour force by creating incoine-generating opportunities for women in all endeavours.  He went further to say that in Philippine, there is a comprehensive Employment Development Programme (EDP) which was launched by the government in 19i86, and was to a large extent responsible for the drop in the unemployment rate from 11.8% in 1986 to 11.2% in 1987.

Still on the efforts for active involvement in economic development, it was declared in Barcelonia (1988) that:

  1. Women should be recognized as agents of development, and all kinds of work that they provide, visible or hidden, should to taken into account by economic research by national accounting agencies and in planning.
  2. Programmes of development cooperation concerning agricultural should stores the basic role of women as food producer property rights and financial credits.
  3. Women should be present on an equal footing with men, all national and international for, government or non-governmental, where decisions are taken which have economic consequences.  Positive measures should be taken to ensure that objective of the United Nations.  Decade for women concerning development be reached by the year 2000.

In morden times work hard to escape the stereotype image in which their forebears were earth bound.  Women are now defying the institution-wised motion of tethered women of the pre-historic time.  Women are now sitting in the gunnies of success in economic development through self-help and organization.  Women of Eku have never-been left out of the wheel of progress.  In Eku today, women are providing themselves by building of market stall, church, hall, domestic shop for their daughters and themselves, etc.

Lastly, according to Ngoni of Zimbabwe, “women are not the problem.  The problem is the economic condition that support their poverty”.  She went further to advise women to help in changing their position when she said “we must change the systems within which we are tapped”.  Mobilization of women only work effectively if some of the deprivations which the women suffer are improve upon………………………………………….

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2 Comments on “Community Development Efforts of Women in the Economic Development in Nigeria.”

  1. l love the topic. but, if can add more contributions made by women in Nigeria such as the contributions made by the wife of Ebonyi state Governor towards developing ebonyi women.

  2. Very wonderful and comprehensive work,though not complete. Pls be including references.

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