Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Obstacles to Provision and Use of Development Information in Rural Communities in Nigeria

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Obstacles to Provision and Use of Development Information in Rural Communities in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

In an increasingly globalized and information-driven world, information has become a necessity and valuable commodity to individuals, organizations and societies in their existence. For individuals, it has become a tool for proper integration through interactive interpersonal networking and a means of maintaining a healthy balance in such interactions for the purposes of personal and group development. Many scholarly views exist on the value and usefulness of information as a tool for individual and societal development (Aboyade, 1985; Ndavi, 1990; Kibirige, 1996; and Uhegbu, 1997).

Aboyade (1985) particularly provides a refreshing and exciting perspective to the burning issue of information provision for mass mobilization from the rural grassroots upwards, and stresses that its implementation will address problems linked with present efforts in Nigeria and developing countries towards economic reconstruction, which now shifts emphasis from urban to rural development. Iwe (2003) concurs with this view by stating that rural development experts, planners and information scientists have identified information as an important input in rural development programmes. She avers further that development schemes or efforts in Nigeria failed in the past because of a lack of information at the planning and execution stages and posits the necessity to identify the areas o need of the rural community and to provide the information needed.

The information environment of the rural area is distinct from that of the urban environment due to obvious differences. The rural areas are mostly inhabited by people with low economic potentials, illiterates, semi-literates, school drop-outs, etc who have limited or no access to social amenities including agencies for information dissemination. The factor of illiteracy or low level of illiteracy acts as a great inhibitor to information access and assimilation in rural communities in Nigeria.

When thinking of information that can help solve a problem in a development context, we inevitably see such information as being a resource with which to solve a particular problem. Because information plays such an important role in almost every human activity, its value in the development process has been a topic of extensive debate. According to Camble (1994), and Sturges and Neill (1990), lack of adequate and relevant information has impacted negatively on any development process. Although academics and researchers are aware of the value of information in development, there is some concern that information is still not perceived as being as important as other resources. Neelameghan (1980), Camara (1990) and (Sturges and Neill, 1990) posit that planners, developers and governments do not yet acknowledge the role of information as a basic resource, or are unaware of its potential value.

It seems that people are not always aware of what information entails (Manzvanzvike, 1993). It seems also that the extent to which information users in developing communities are able to handle information (i.e. the extent to which they use information) will determine the usefulness of information as a development resource. Ozowa (1995) is of the opinion that a general lack of awareness among rural people can be attributed to their high level of illiteracy. However, the nature (and particularly its attributes) has not yet been challenged as a possible reason why information is not viewed in the some light as other development process. Information is power, but in the other hand, information by itself is worthless and cannot solve problems as information has power only when used and applied effectively (Boon, 1992). This apparent contradiction lies the strength of this article as it strives to discuss the attributes of information and how these attributes comply with development requirements for rural communities.

Development Information: Conceptual Analysis

Among the ingredients needed to drive developmental process in rural communities is the supply of needed information as a tool of empowerment to take meaningful decisions. …

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