January 16, 2021

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Building capacity to assess poverty, progress of rural development

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With poverty index growing annually, the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, Kwara State has partnered the Federal Government on the Village Alive Development Initiative (VADI) to ensure capacity development of  farmers. ARMTI seeks to change the way rural development is analysed and measured, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

 

The 2020 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) data and publication: Charting pathways out of multidimensional poverty, said about 84.3 per cent of multidimensionally poor people live in sub-Saharan Africa (558 million).

Released in July, this year, by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the University of Oxford and the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme, the MPI measures the complexities of poor people’s lives, individually and collectively, each year. The report provides a comprehensive picture of global trends in multidimensional poverty, covering five billion people. It probed patterns between and within countries and, by indicators, showcasing different ways of making progress.

Indeed, extremely poor people are more concentrated in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region.

But  the concern of the Executive Director/ Chief Executive, Agricultural Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Dr Olufemi Oladunni, is how the ongoing development agenda in Nigeria has led to the transformation of rural economies.

He made a case that rural economies needed transformation to generate new opportunities in off-farm, agriculture-related activities. These include enterprises that process or refine packaging or transport, and store, market or sell food, as well as businesses that supply production inputs such as seeds, tools and equipment, and fertilisers or provide irrigation, tilling or other services.

Since then, he has been driving the institute to look at policy support towards building a vibrant food system and agro-industries.

Following this, ARMTI embarked on a study to assess multidimensional poverty in Kwara State.

At a seminar held in Ilorin, Oladunni said the study was necessary to point the government and development partners to areas where support  was most needed  and  evaluating actions and initiatives implemented to improve rural lives and livelihoods.

Presenting the outcome of the study in a paper, Assessment of Multidimensional Poverty in Rural Development, using the ARMTI’sVillage Alive Development Initiative (VADI) Communities as case study,   Oladunni said the focus was the rural communities of Kwara State,

Oladunni said ARMTI’s VADI has served as an experimental success which is becoming a veritable intervention model used by the government to shift the paradigm by alleviating poverty and creating wealth through the reversal of the challenges.

Oladunni said the study was necessary as it identified the most vulnerable households and groups and helped  government and development agencies wishing to target aid more effectively to those specific communities.

He said nine ARMTI VADI communities were selected.

He said the findings revealed that there was need for more entrepreneurship development and empowerment programmes for youths and the vulnerable as unemployment made the largest contribution (54.64 per cent) to the MPI of the study area.

The other thing the study brought to the fore was the urgent need to enlighten residents in the study area to own a toilet facility and maintain proper sanitation. His words:  “Majority of the households in the study area do not own a toilet. A large percentage of the few who have the facility share it with other households. ARMTI’s) VADI was domiciled in Kwara State. The model is now extended to additional states of Oyo, Nassarawa, and Benue. He reiterated that the institute was interested in development models that will focus attention on the poor while expanding job opportunities, increased government spending on agriculture to alleviate poverty.

Speaking during the forum, a Professor of agricultural Extension, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Olaniyi Okunlola, said there was a need for concerted efforts to turn the rural areas to zones of economic prosperity through multidimensional assessments.

He said : “An assessment gives a more comprehensive picture of poverty,  as well as an indication of where to target policies that may address the dimensions in which people are deprived, whether it is education, health, or other aspects that could enable people to be lifted out of poverty if these investments are made.”

He  noted, however  that no single measure  was  a sufficient guide to both inequality and multidimensional poverty, and that studies such as the MPI, Human Development Index, and Gini coefficient (which measures countries’ wealth income distribution), can each contribute important and distinctive information for policy action to effectively reduce poverty.

ARMTI’s partner, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)  also launched its Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT), which aims to strengthen the design, planning, monitoring and evaluation of projects for rural poverty reduction.

The MPAT assesses local-level rural poverty by aggregating people’s perceptions on ten different indicators, based on data collected from household, village or project surveys.

While IFAD finances investments in sustainable agriculture and rural development as key ingredients for poverty eradication, economic growth and food security, the fund said success could only be achieved if there were clear understanding and monitoring of progress and impact.