INFORMATION DISSEMINATION AND SUSTAINABLE RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN BENUE STATE
The study Information Dissemination for Sustainable Rural Development in Benue State was conducted to determine how information disseminate to the rural people in the state has affected rural development. Despite the efforts put forward to improve the condition of the rural populace, their condition as lamented by the press, do not fare better. The operations of these media do not seem to have provided adequate information to the rural dwellers in Benue State as to their urban counterpart. Five objectives were achieved by formulating and answering five research questions for the study. The objectives were to: identify the information needs of rural people of Benue State to enhance sustainable rural development in the state; find out the types of information disseminated to rural people of Benue State; identify institutions that are responsible for disseminating information to rural people for sustainable rural development. Find out channels of information delivery that are used for disseminating information to the rural people; and lastly to ascertain the adequacy of channels used for disseminating information to rural population of Benue state. Survey method was adopted for the study. The research instruments used to collect data for the study were questionnaires and interview. Purposive and Systematic sampling techniques were used to obtain the sample of subjects for the study. Two thousand and six hundred (2,600) subjects were used for the study. Seven Local Government Areas which are more rural in Benue state namely, Logo, Ushongo, Guma, Tarka, Agatu, Obi and Ohimini were sampled for the study. Data were presented in frequencies tables and percentages. Analysis and discussions were made to each table. Findings of the study revealed that most information delivered to rural populace are not the type that will guarantee them sustainable rural development. For example information on politics 1665(64.0%) social activities 1,603 (61.7%) and cultural activities 1,360(53.3%) were those that top the list. Again the finding reveals that the awareness of rural peasants about institutions responsible for information dissemination such as Nigeria Television Authority, National Orientation Agency, Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Agency were very low. The study further revealed that most of the frequently used channels of information dissemination like radio, television, newspaper and library were not adequate to create awareness of the rural people for sustainable rural development.
1.1 Background to the study
For any society to function, a basic minimum stock of usable information is essential. Information is a powerful tool for development. If one is informed, he is armed. Thus King and Palmour (1981) defined information as the “act of informing which can be thought of as the content of a message that is conveyed and is assimilated by a person who receives the message. The outcome of such information received often leads to behavioural changes and manifested in either action or increasing one’s state of knowledge. Every society needs to acquire, store, and exchange this basic stock of information to allow it survive.
The view that information is central to the solution of any society’s economic and social problems, and should be regarded as a factor of production is now widely accepted McAnany (1978). The use of information eradicates ignorance and promotes confidence.
The Problem of underdevelopment is a complex one, from rural to national Development. This is also the same problem that will induce a more satisfactory state of social well-being of people. Whatever defects that are noticeable in the process of realizing the potentials for development on a national scale are indeed highly intensified at the rural level. The rural society in Nigeria has lagged most in the rate of development, and constitutes a drag on national development as a whole because they have not been adequately empowered with information to function. Despite the number of projects undertaken by national and international agencies in Nigeria, the living condition in the rural areas still remains deplorable. Information is knowledge. And, it is essential for development. Knowledge can be used to bring in development to rural society. Balits (1998), particularly pointed out that the least expensive input for rural development is knowledge. Knowledge and information are basic ingredients for food security, poverty eradication, health care, and general improvement in the standard of living of rural societies. Sustainable development and information dissemination go hand in hand. There can be no proper development in the absence of qualitative, effective and timely dissemination of information to the right people concerned.
Trends in information dissemination in this study connote channels in which information has been distributed to the rural people to meet their daily needs. Our world is one in which ordinary citizen is often faced with issues on which understanding and evaluation are needed so as to arrive at meaningful decision. Information and knowledge are democratic tools that increase people’s ability to be informed on current issues, regarding personal as well as civic obligations and responsibilities. It is therefore pertinent to disseminate information using all available media that are best understood by the rural populace to achieve the needed development.
Sustainable rural development can be guaranteed when information is disseminated through the right channels that are best understood by the rural populace. Ozowa (1995) for instance lamented that general lack of awareness among traditional farmers can be attributed to high level of illiteracy, which in turns contribute to low level of adoption of agricultural production technology. This explained reasons why development at grassroot is always retrogressed.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Sustainable rural development will bring about the overall economic development of developing countries. For over three decades, successive governments in Nigeria have been struggling to develop the rural areas as part of solution to hunger, diseases, illiteracy and unemployment as well as the basis for overall economic development (Mundi, 2007). To this end, the Nigerian government launched, funded and piloted a number of policies and programmes aimed at reorganizing and mobilizing the rural populace so as to enhance their capacity to cope effectively with the daily tasks of their lives and changes consequent upon it. Some of these programmes include National accelerated food production programme (1972), operation feed the nation (1976), the directorate for food rural roads and infrastructure (1987), national orientation agency (1995).
Recent ones such as Poverty Alleviation Programme (2002), National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (2004), and so on, all with very substantial rural content and focus. Unfortunately, the benefit from these programmes have not been very significant as expected, because information services to support the programmes have not been utilized. As observed majority of Nigerians lacked access to basic information to counter the effects of low income, hunger, morbidity, premature death and general poor standard of living.
Data from the Federal Government of Nigeria (2011) revealed that the level of poverty in Nigeria, especially in rural areas has risen high. In fact, the Federal Government of Nigeria indicated that at least, 70% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. That of Benue state in particular is worse with 75% poverty level in recent times(Benue Digest, 2011). In essence the desire to develop the rural areas has remained largely elusive. This situation was accepted by World Bank cited in National Population Commission report (2011) where it was reported that as the result of lack of proper channel of information dissemination to the rural populace. Thus, could the lack of development in Benue state be attributed to poor provision of rural information? Could it be also that the channels used in disseminating rural information services are not suitable or adequate in the state?
Probably the poor conditions of rural areas may be attributed to lack of adequate information services to the rural dwellers as provided to urban counterparts in the state. It is against this background that this research derives its problems.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The following are the objectives of this study:
1. To identify the information needs of the rural people in Benue state.
2. To find out the types of information that are disseminated to rural people of Benue State for sustainable rural development.
3. To identify institutions that are responsible for dissemination of information to rural populace in Benue State.
4. To find out the channels of information delivery that are use for disseminating information to rural people for sustainable rural development.
5. To ascertain the adequacy of channels used in disseminating information to rural people in Benue State.
1.4 Research Questions
This study set out to answer the following research questions:
1. What are the information needs of rural populace of Benue state for sustainable rural development?
2. What are the types of information disseminated to rural people of Benue State for sustainable rural development?
3. What institutions are responsible for the dissemination of information to rural populace for sustainable rural development in Benue State?
4. What channels of information delivery are used for disseminating information to rural people of Benue state?
5. How adequate are the channels used in disseminating information to rural people for sustainable rural development in Benue State?
1.5 Basic Assumptions
The following are the assumptions of the study:
1. The information is essential to every category of human being for sustainable rural development in Benue State.
2. That the existing methods and channels of rural information dissemination in the state have not been very successful for rural transformation.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The importance of this research can be understood from many perspectives. First, bulk of Nigerians and to be specific, the people of Benue state live in rural areas, and whose enormous contributions earned the entire state the title of “the food basket of the nation.” It is therefore obvious to investigate into their information needs and recommend appropriate channels that will be used to disseminate information to rural people of Benue State to further enhance their contributions to the growth and survival of Benue state and Nigeria at large. The outcome of this study will also help the rural majority to know where to obtain information needed to improve their living conditions.
Furthermore, recommendations from this study could be used to disseminate information that would empower rural people to function well and actualize the dream of sustainable rural development in the state.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study covers the information disseminations for sustainable rural development in Benue state. Seven Local Government Area which are more rural in the state namely: Logo, Ushongo, Guma, Tarka, Agatu, Obi and Ohimini were covered in this study. The institutions covered in this study include Radio Benue Makurdi, National Television Authority in Benue state, Benue State Public Library Services, National Orientation Agency in the state, District heads/ward heads, Local Government Area Information Department, Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Agency, Primary Health Care Centres, Religious place of worship, Business Information Centres.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The study was limited to the seven more rural local government areas in Benue state. As a result of the size of the population, there was limited fund to cover every rural village in Benue state. Due to the scattered settlement of these rural local government areas and their villages in the state, the researcher was compelled to involve two research assistants, which increased the fund earlier budgeted for. The size of the sample involved delayed the coding and analysis of the questionnaires collected. These limitations however do not in any way interfere with the findings of the research.
1.9 Operational definition of terms
Information: Any fact or idea that increases present state of knowledge
Indigenous Knowledge: Facts and ideas obtained from the tradition and culture of the people which are transmitted across generations by means of oral tradition.
Rural Areas: Village settlements where bulk of the population are peasant farmers, and are illiterates.
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