1.0 BACKGROUND FO THE STUDY
the level of poverty has increased in Africa and inNigeriasince the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programme in the ‘80s (UNDP Nigeria, 1998; World Bank, 1999). Data from the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) on poverty profile inNigeria(1999) showed that the incidence of poverty increased from 28.1% in 1980 to 43.6% in 1985 but declined to 42.7% in 1992 and rose again to 65.6% in 1996. Since 1990, the country has been classified as a poor nation.
For the period 1980 to 1996, the population of poor Nigerians increased fourfold in absolute term. The percentage of the core poor increased from 62% in 1980 to 93% in 1996, whereas the moderately por only rose from 28.9% in 1992 to 36.3% in 1996. The proportion of total income spent on food by the core poor and moderately poor was approximately 75% and 73%, while the non-poor category spent about 53% of their total income on food (FOS, 1999).
The analysis of the depth and severity of poverty inNigeriashowed that rural areas were the most affected. Several reasons accounted for this situation; the large concentration of the populace in the rural area, many years of neglect of the rural areas in terms of infrastructural development, and lack of information on the way government is being run. The CBN/World Bank study on Poverty Assessment and Alleviation inNigeria(1999) attested to the fact that the living and environmental conditions of those living in the rural areas have worsened. Urban poverty is also on the increase in the country. This has been attributed to the under provision of facilities and amenities which are inadequate to match the growing demand of the urban populace as well as the rural-urban movement which has caused serious pressure on the existing infrastructural facilities.
Concern about the problem as well as efforts made to reduce it cannot be said to be new. However, while major reductions in poverty level have been in the developed countries, the same cannot be said regarding the undeveloped countries of the world. Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa has been characterized as being among the poorest regions of the world. Poverty in the region has increased due to global economic policies political instability, civil wars and Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) among others. About 250 million Africans (about 45 percent) of the population are poor (World Bank, 1996). In rural areas, where most Africans live, the situation is worse. The high poverty level in Sub-Saharan Africa has been attended by the decline in per capita income, wages and employment in the surroundings of the population pressures, fragile national resources and weak institutional financial structure (Afonja, 1996).
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The concern over increasing poverty level especially in the developing countries and the need for is alleviation as a means of improving the standard of living of the people has led to the conceptualization and implementation of various targeted or non-targeted poverty alleviation schemes worldwide. InNigeria, both the Nigerian government and donor agencies have implemented a number of efforts to analyze and find solutions to the menace of poverty in the country.
Despite these measures, the level of poverty in the country is on the increase. The inadequacies of these approaches prompted the emergence of a people centered development strategy. This approach recognizes the potentials of the people especially the poor in improving their own socio-economic conditions. But what is required is capital, which is not accessible to the poor. The need to meet this financial demands of the poor brought to the fore the concept of micro financial which is being propelled by both local and international NGOs. Macro financing recognizes the availability of capital to the poor.
Over the past two decades, micro finance institutions have created access to micro credits to the poor in Asia, Latin America and Africa. The potentials of micro-finance in Nigeriaare enormous and hence, its importance as a tool for poverty reduction has dawned on governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals alike. This awakening has brought about concerted action from all these sectors to make credit available to the poor to fight against poverty. Hence, this study is based on an organization geared towards this effort. It is called Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) in its effort to alleviating poverty and ensuring economic development inNigeria in the area of micro financing. It is in this context that this study is set to assess the impact of micro credit as a poverty alleviation scheme inEdoState using LAPO as a case study.
1.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
From the foregoing, it becomes pertinent to raise and address certain questions, which will guide the course of this study. The following questions therefore, provide the bedrock of this research:
- What is the volume of credit available to the loan borrowers?
- What is the relative impact of micro-credits on poverty level?
- How do the beneficiaries assess the micro financing scheme?
- What are the measure that will enhance the effectiveness of micro financing as a poverty alleviation scheme inNigeria?
All these are questions that will be addressed succinctly in this study. The answers should suggest some lessons for development planners, policy makers and other stakeholders in the field of poverty alleviation, particularly inEdoStateofNigeria.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The main objective of the study is to determine the impact of micro credit on poverty alleviation scheme. Other objectives include:
- To identify the socio-economic characteristics of the loan borrower in the study area.
- To find out how the beneficiaries assess the micro financing scheme.
- To identify and assess the volume of credits to the loan borrower.
1.4 HYPOTHESIS OF THE STUDY
In this study, one major hypothesis is formulated for validation:
- There are significant differences in the income of the loan borrowers before and after micro credit assistance.
1.5 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
Given the geometric increase in the number of poor people in the last few decades inNigeria, this study forms a major contribution towards developing a relevant and appropriate poverty alleviation scheme inNigeria.
This study will also help in assessing the effectiveness of micro credit as a poverty alleviation scheme inEdoStateand it is hoped that the result of the study will be applicable to other states inNigeria.
In addition, the study will contribute to the literature of micro credit and poverty alleviation schemes inNigeria..