Topic: Examining Poverty, Inequality and Social Disadvantage in Rural Nigeria using Opportunity Structure Theory
Keywords: Poverty, Inequality, Social Disadvantage, Opportunity Structure, Rural Nigeria
Rural Nigeria represents more than half of the whole country which makes it significant enough to be reckoned with and where resources should be channelled to facilitate development and sustainability. Farming or other agricultural activities are predominant business in rural Nigeria due to availability of fertile and abundant land mass. More than 80 percent of Nigeria’s farmers are smallholder farmers and they are the main producers of over 90 percent of domestic farming output in rural communities. Despite being characterized with huge landmass and various natural resources, poverty, inequality and social disadvantage is visible across rural areas. In Nigeria, poverty is especially extreme in rural areas, where up to 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and social services and infrastructure are limited. Rural poverty in Nigeria is evenly distributed across the country, rather than concentrated in specific geographical areas while the rural populace are faced with very limited employment opportunities besides farming and fishing. Inequalities are witnessed in rural areas as a result of unequal distribution of the gains from economic growth with concentration in urban centres and cities. However, enormous opportunities abound in the rural communities with availability of huge land for farming, rural industrialization and rural entrepreneurship, as well as natural resources with tourist sites. Rural is beautiful and powerful, it can feed and grow the whole nation but it cannot develop herself unless innovative ways and approaches are employed. In this paper we appraise how opportunities for rural economies may affect rural development among various community types. There is a need to better understand not only the relation among poverty, inequality and social disadvantage and rural development, but also what opportunity structure drive or hinder the development of rural economies in different communities. The article contributes to the debate about the relationship of opportunity structure and rural development from two perspectives. We examines rising and persisting poverty and inequality in rural contexts. Secondly, we also address how different national welfare systems influence the structure, availability and governance of opportunity offers in rural areas and what it means for social disadvantage.