The problem and prospect faced by voluntary organization towards community development is the main focus of this study. This study is aimed at identifying the development so caused by voluntary organizations towards community development at large particularly Okene Local Government. In the course of this study, the aim and objectives of voluntary organization towards community development are to: in light of the concept of voluntary organization on Okene Local Government to understand better and appreciated their physical, economic and social environment to help locate the need of their communities and proffers solution to the problem. The second aim of project work is to drive a useful comment in Okene Local Government towards community development to drive home some possible benefits and help design plans for further investigation and improvement. The population of the study was 3479, out of which 5% represents the sample size is 174 people. Questionnaire was administered to 174 respondents but only 97.7%% (170) was found valid. The data gathered was analysed using frequency and simple percentage. Some recommendations based on the subject matter were made such as that government should encourage the formulation of voluntary organization at all level of community development and conclusion was invariably drawn.
1.1 Background of the Study
A voluntary group or union (also sometimes called a voluntary organization, common-interest association, [Prins HEL et al, 2010:226] association, or society) is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement, usually as volunteers, to form a body (or organization) to accomplish a purpose (Dictionary.reference.com). Common examples include trade associations, trade unions, learned societies, professional associations, and environmental groups.
Voluntary organizations emerged as self-help entities to combat economic and social inadequacies (Baarda, 2006). Voluntary organizations serve as an effective community development vehicle by their nature they build economic self-reliance and civil society. The benefits of voluntary organizations accrue to the larger society because they create local jobs, re-invest locally, emphasis on education and skills raises local management capacity, reduce migration and concentration of capital. People come together in voluntary organizations to pool their resources together so as to meet individual needs that could not be resolved by individual limited financial capacity (Birchall, 2004). The aim of voluntary organizations is to produce goods and deliver services, and to satisfy the legitimate needs of members and also to promote cooperation, relations, participation and consequently to promote interpersonal connections. Voluntary organizations provide services that benefit both members and the local community. It was also observed that it is an essential tool for development of less economically developed communities (Ibrahim, 2004).
Naturally, developing sustainable economic cooperation among individuals will be more profitable further than the creation of conflicts. It is only for this strictly pragmatic reason (and not for any other moral reasons as in the case of other social philosophies), that it is justified to found institutions that minimize conflicts and promote cooperation (Fairbairn, 1994).
Birchall (1997, 1998) traces the birth of modern voluntary organizations to Britain at the end of the eighteen century. Friendly organizations emerged among working class group to protect themselves against life hazards through mutual insurance, numbering over a million by 1834. They were seen as a self-help movement, being a response to the insecurities of reliance on wage labour arising with industrial revolution.
In Nigeria the development of voluntary was influenced by government policies. This could be traced back to 1926 when the department of Agriculture started to organize Cocoa farmers around Abeokuta and Ibadan in western Nigeria, to sell their cocoa voluntarily (Ibrahim, 2001).
A voluntary organization is an organization in which those who transact with (i.e. patronize) the organizations also own and formally control the organization, and derive significant benefits from those of transactions over and above any financial returns they derive from their investment in the organization (Ijere,1992).
This definition captures the patronage-based returns aspect that appears to distinguish Voluntary Organizations from other forms of organization.
According to International Voluntary Alliance (1995): Voluntary organization is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically- controlled enterprises.
Another definition provided by Mladentaz (1933) cited by Ibrahim (2001) describes Voluntary Organization as: “Association of persons, small producers or consumers, who have come together voluntarily to achieve some of common purpose by a reciprocal exchange of services through a collective economic enterprise working at their common risk and with resources to which all contribute to the development of community’’.
The notion of community development owes a great deal to the efforts of colonial administrators. After the Second World War the British Colonial Office became concerned with ‘community development’. Mayo (1975: 130) suggests that administrators ‘concocted’ the term out of their attempts to develop ‘basic education’ and social welfare in the UK colonies. For example, a 1944 report, Mass education in the colonies, placed an emphasis on literacy training and advocated the promotion of agriculture, health and other social services through local self-help (Midgley et al 1986: 17). This was a set of concerns similar to those surrounding the interest in rural development and educational ‘extension’ in North America in the first two decades of the century. Community development was defined in one UK government publication as:
“active participation, and if possible on the initiative of the community, but if this initiative is not forthcoming spontaneously, by the use of techniques for arousing and stimulating it in order to achieve its active and enthusiastic response to the movement.” (Colonial Office 1958: 2)
The concern with community development was, in part, a response to the growth of nationalism, and, in part an outcome of a desire to increase the rate of industrial and economic development. The notion began to feature strongly in United Nations documents during the 1950s – and these drew extensively on the British literature and experiences in Africa and India (Midgley et al 1986: 18). Three important elements were identified:
- a concern with social and economic development.
- the fostering and capacity of local co-operation and self-help.
- the use of expertise and methods drawn from outside the local community.
Within this there does appear to be a certain contradiction. Community development emphasizes participation, initiative and self-help by local communities but is usually sponsored by national governments as part of a national plan. While from one side it can be seen as the encouragement of local initiative and decision making, from the other it is a means of implementing and expediting national policies at the local level and is a substitute for, or the beginning of, local government (Jones 1977).
The focus on the social and economic, local and global, also helps to situate debates about community development – and the disillusionment with its achievements that was widespread in many Southern countries by the 1970s. Many governments, particularly in Africa, failed to provide adequate financial support but nevertheless extolled the virtues of self-help. Community development was soon recognized by the people to amount to little more than a slogan which brought few tangible benefits. (Midgley et al 1986: 18)
This study therefore focuses on Problems and Prospects of Voluntary Organization in Community Development in Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State.
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