The term ‘rural community’ is very ambiguous, and as such it can be very cumbersome to define. Though some obvious characteristics of rural communities are a lower population density, a lack of social amenities, and an absence of healthcare providers relative to their urban counterparts, the rural community can also be associated with all kinds of good. All of the unspoiled serene earthly beauty, families whose diets are nearly free of processed foods and sugary carbonated beverages, and landscapes free from toxic waste and polluted air. That’s just the beginning of what rural communities can be.
Right now though, this is no longer the case in the Nigerian rural communities who in recent times have faced threats of hunger, insecurity, pandemic, ecological disaster etc. Members of rural communities in Niger delta are breathing bad air, drinking contaminated water, and have lost the ecosystem they long depended on, all because of hydrocarbon exploration by multinational oil companies and oil bunkering. Industrial ventures that only serve capitalist elites in the city and a select privileged few willing to exploit their fellow man in the rural communities. This exploration impacts the livelihood of people in the Niger Delta which revolves around farming and fishing. Because of the exploration the lands and water have become so polluted with crude oil that there is continuous gas flaring and pipe eruptions. The combination of factors have led to a brutally overwhelmed ecosystem. This ecological disaster combined with corporate greed has greatly contributed to an increase in poverty, poor health, benefited the continuing rise of organized communal warlords, and the overall misery of Nigerian rural communities.
Read our previous article on capitalism-in-nigeria/ for more on the ecological disaster caused by oil exploration activity in the Niger delta.
Rural Nigeria has been ever burdened with poverty, lack of healthcare, poor infrastructure, poor education, high maternal death rate, high child mortality, a severe lack of social amenities, and so much more. Despite this extreme poverty there has been too little to no legislative action nor substantive policy attempts to address these conditions in the rural communities suffering in this country.
Despite the devastating effects of colonialism on the culture of colonized people, rural communities still retain their cultural heritage. Most annual cultural festivities continue to take place in these communities; cultures and traditions that promote communality and the impersonal relationships that continue to exist among the rural people. The spirit of cooperation and mutualism that exists among members of rural communities in Nigeria is ever visible relative to the urban areas. But in time the indigenous cultures will face evermore cultural erosion and extinction, but until then rural communities remain a place of hope .
Nigeria’s rural communities are foundational to guaranteeing the colonizer’s food security going into the future.
As food insecurity, poverty, and malnutrition continue to ravage the Sahel Region, it is rural communities that have continued to provide the backbone to the remaining food security in the region. In spite of this most rural communities have faced a systematic and total disconnection from the apparatus of government. Poverty, hunger, disease, inadequate healthcare if it exists at all, the dilapidated road networks, and underfunded schools clearly highlight the complete exclusion.
One will wonder then, in spite of its major role in feeding the nation, why over the years the government of Nigeria has not implemented policies and programmes to ensure a continuing, decent standard of living. Things like providing the rural areas functional healthcare, electricity, and aqueducts. At least provide them with an accessible road network to accommodate the transportation of their farming and agricultural products. This is supposed to be the primary responsibility of any functional government anyway!
It is imperative to advocate for policies and programs that will ensure rural communities get attention from both government bodies and concerned individuals. We can help rural farmers organize a union that will push forth their demand either through protests. It could be boycotting moving their agricultural products to the urban areas. We can help train rural farmers on ICT Nigerian government to pay attention to the yearnings and aspirations of people living in the rural communities!