Can social goods improve local livelihoods?
Delivering social goods to communities benefiting from the development assistance of LEEMP has brought unprecedented improvement in their conditions of existence. To date, policies and practices on the project focuses development assistance to the provision of social infrastructure and has given local communities access to education. health services and transport services.
Despite this, livelihood alternatives have waned steadily and the level of poverty has reduced only to the extent that the monies local people would have hitherto used to pay for these services are saved and channeled to other productive uses. Livelihood is not all about social services; it is about work done to earn a living or whatever provides a source of income.
My experience with local people has shown that, there are enormous resources in the community from which they can generate income but they lack the technical and entrepreneurial skills to turn resources into money as well as the capital to set up viable business ventures. Alakali LEEMP Community produces some of the hest oranges in Benue State. Local farmers sell out several lorry loads of oranges to urban buyers at very prices because they lack the wherewithal to add-value to their resources. Rather than seeing. the provision of social goods as an opportunity to address poverty, let us empower people by changing their mind set to realize that they could generate more income from local sources and from developing their businesses.
Delivering on social goods is not the end, but a means to assisting local people manage their lives. People do not want handouts but to be able to earn their own income so they can be self-reliant and look after their families. The rising trend in most LEEMP communities is that member’s continuously seek gratifications for every little work done on site. They are so poor that appreciating the long-term benefits of the micro projects
Although they acknowledge the cumulative benefit of the projects to the entire community in the long- run, they also need some money in their pockets to survive, to solve their basic problems. The Community Project Management Committee (C.P.IV1.CS) are having a hard time, mobilizing the communities, the operation officers are not left out either. The teeming unemployed youths have tendencies to be restive at the slightest provocation, the poor widows need sources of income to cater for their children, the aged who are weak need their children to be economically empowered to take care of them, what about the orphans who have been neglected, they too need to earn a living