The Concept of Rural Development
The meaning of rural development has been the subject of much debate and little agreement. The definition of rural development varies from one point of view to the other. The definition or rural development may be centered around income criterion in which the concept is made to address the problem of rural poverty. Or it may be defined in sociological concept in which the rural poor represents a reservoir of untapped talent a target group that should be given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of development through improved education, health and nutrition. This is one of the most important definitions of rural development as the provision of social infrastructures could provide the catalyst that would transform the rural areas.
Rural development may also be seen as an ideology and a practice. It may mean planned change by public agencies based outside the rural areas such as the national Government and International organization; It may also be the bringing of the countryside into an active state, as well as the transformation of the inferior nature of the country side into something more superior in terms of activities.
Rural development as the improvement in the living standard of the rural dwellers by engaging them in productive activities such as the establishment of rural industries that will increase their income. It is seen by these scholars as a means of raising the sustainable living of the rural poor by giving them the opportunity to develop their full potentials.
Rural development can be distinguished from agricultural development which it entails and transcends. In essence Rural Development may imply a broad based re-organization and mobilization of rural masses in order to enhance their capacity to cope effectively with the daily task of their lives and with changes consequent upon this. According to the World Bank Rural Development must be clearly designed to increase production. It recognizes that improved food supplies and nutrition, together with basic services, such as health and education, not only directly improve the physical well-being and quality of life of the rural poor, but can also indirectly enhance their productivity and their ability to contribute to the national economy.
Rural Development ensures the modernization of the rural society and the transition from its traditional isolation to integration with the national economy. It is concerned with increased agricultural production for urban and international markets. This is essential so as to generate foreign exchange, and to attract revenue to finance public and private consumption and investment. In order to encourage increased production rural development may offer a package of inputs and welfare services for the rural masses. Such inputs and welfare services include physical inputs (such as the provision of feeder roads, water and electrification), social inputs—(namely health and educational facilities) and institutional inputs such as credit facilities, agricultural research facilities, rural expansion services among others.