By Teniola Egbuwalo
Development is a vital aspect of every Society and the rural areas play a key role in the national development.
Rural development is one of the major problems facing Africa today, including Nigeria. As a result of the large share of the country’s natural resources located in the rural areas, also due to the size of the rural population compared to the percentage living in the cities, there is a necessity for Rural Development.
Rural areas are regarded as areas that harbour diseases,Superstition, poverty, low income and low productivity. This constitutes a fundamental problem as these areas are being neglected.
The role of Journalism is imperative in the aspect of rural development in Nigeria. The media as the Fourth Estate Realm, are the communication outlets or tools used to store, disseminate, information to the members of the society. With their pervasive and persuasive nature, they set agendas, create topics for public discussions, confer Status as well as other functions in the society.
By projecting these Rural areas consistently in the media and creating awareness for rural development in Nigeria, Journalists can draw Attention to the need for the Government who pay little or no attention to the issue of rural development. The bulk of development efforts and resources are concentrated in the urban areas where the very small minority of the population lives.
The media is very vast and a powerful mode of Communication and if more and more Journalists can concentrate more on the rural areas, their everyday lives and challenges of the inhabitants of the rural areas, they can help to agitate for Change and advocate for Rural development in Nigeria.
The media can serve as a platform for the voice of the members of the rural areas. They can encourage the Government to establish Radios in these rural areas. Even if the radio is an old fashioned medium in the current Information age, in rural areas it is still the most widespread, accessible and affordable mass medium. The Radio cut across the barrier of illiteracy as information can be disseminated in local languages so that every member of the rural society can be reached. The Rural Radio can empower communities to participate in decision making that can influence their Social, Economic and Cultural environment. The media can agitate for the empowerment of rural communites through radios which can also serve as a tool for informing the rural populations on issues crucial to their survival.
Journalists through their publications can also encourage members of these rural areas who leave their roots and invest in the urban areas to come back home and develop their community as well instead of relying only on the Government. They can invest in Hospitals, schools, help to supply clean water to this areas and also provide their farmers with sophisticated tools to aid the farming process thereby creating jobs for the unemployed and illiterates.
The Rural population has limited access to education as there exist a large number of illiterates. There are no good schools and good roads leading to these schools, and children are unable to attend schools.
These rural areas also lack proper medical facilities and people die everyday in the rural areas due to lack of proper medical care as well as poor Sanitation. The houses in the rural area hardly have running water and electricity and they live in extreme survival crises during rains,sun, storms, blizzards etc.
Rural development in Nigeria is a crucial aspect, a development process of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in rural areas, often relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. The government should aim at finding ways to improve rural lives with participation of rural people themselves, so as to meet the required needs of the Rural areas.