Public Administration

An Impact Assessment of Federal Government’s Policies on Poverty Reduction in Northern Senatorial Zone of Cross River State

An Impact Assessment of Federal Government’s Policies on Poverty Reduction in Northern Senatorial Zone of Cross River State, Nigeria (1987-2007)


1.1 Background to the Study

Poverty is a global phenomenon which affects continents, nations, and peoples differently. It afflicts people in various depths and levels, at different times and phases of existence and development. As a matter of fact, there is no nation or people that can be said to be absolutely free from poverty. What is markedly different is the intensity, depth or prevalence of this malaise. Nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America reflect the highest level of poverty, and consequently the lowest level of socio-economic development. These regions equally have an attendant higher level of social insecurity, violence, unrest, crime, poor capacity utilization and generally unacceptable low standard of living.

As it has been mentioned above, poverty manifests itself in different and various dimensions, and hence is susceptible to varying definitions and understanding. The Central Bank of Nigeria (1999) views poverty as “a state where an individual is not able to cater adequately for his or her basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, is unable to meet social and economic obligations, lacks gainful employment, skills, assets and self esteem and has limited access to social and economic infrastructure such as education, health, portable water and sanitation; and consequently, has limited chance of advancing his or her welfare to the limit of his /her potentialities”. Whereas this definition of poverty is deductive, the World Bank (2000) on the other hand utilized inductive approach to uncover various dimensions of poverty such as well-being, psychological, basic infrastructure, illness and assets. One of such definitions is “the lack of what is necessary for material well-being… especially food, but also housing, land, and other assets. In other words, poverty is the lack of multiple resources that leads to hunger and physical deprivation”. Another of such definitions is “the lack of voice, power, and independence that subjects them to exploitation. Their poverty leaves them vulnerable to rudeness, humiliation, and inhumane treatment by both private and public agents of state and the hierarchy of society from whom they seek help”.

Nigeria, ranked among the 25 poorest countries in the world, started its independent nationhood with a poverty level of hereby 15% of its population in 1960, and is today struggling to bring it down from about 70% of its current teeming population of about 140 million people (2006 estimates). Of the number of the poverty stricken people, about 73% is concentrated in the rural areas where illiteracy prevalence is high, portable water and health facilities are rarely available, road and electricity infrastructures are either unavailable ill-managed, or under utilized. The World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s 2000 Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.461 aptly indicates the deplorable state of the nation’s level of poverty and low human development. This is in spite of the fact the country is richly endowed with all kinds of water, agricultural and mineral resources. In fact Nigeria’s proportion of the poor has doubled over the last two decades, during which time the country received well over $300 billion in oil and gas revenue. Paradoxically, Nigeria’s level of revenue and endowment are in opposite direction with her poverty level. For instance, according to World Bank, and UNDP (2001) Statistics, Nigeria which impressively ranked 6th and 7th in petroleum export and petroleum production respectively, is ranked 194th in Gross National Product (GDP) per capita and is unenviably classified as the 25th poorest nation in the world.

However, the above scenario has not come into being as a result of nonchalant attitude and non recognition of the problem at hand. It has also not come by as a result of lack of response to the yearning of the teeming poor people to be liberated from their rather deplorable and frustrating state of near-despair.

No Nigerian Government, be it military or civilian, has come without introducing and leaving behind one form of poverty alleviation or reduction programme meant to reduce the level of poverty, give hope and succor to the poor and, or move towards some sort of wealth creation. Strategies, policies and plans have been articulated; programmes and projects have been formulated and executed over the years. For instance, at independence in 1960, poverty eradication efforts in Nigeria centered on education, while Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), the Green Revolution, Peoples Bank of Nigeria (PBN), Community Banks (Now micro-finance banks), Directorate of Foods Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP), Better Life for Rural Women, Family Support Programme (FSP) and National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) have all existed at one point or the other during the period under review. These programmes have been implemented mostly through a top-bottom approach, originating from the central government and implemented through state offices down to the local level. The implication has been that at every point in the implementation of these policies, state governments across the nation are executing a uniform programme, though at different paces with recognition of state peculiarities.

Cross River State as one of the 36 states in the Nigerian federation, and one of the six states in the South-South geo-political zone has not been insulated from the various efforts at poverty reduction before, during and after the period under review. Though successive governments in the state have tried to address the issue of poverty as captured above, the effect of the policies and programmes on reducing poverty among the populace has been that of mixed feelings. The questions bothering a great number of the citizens are:

  1. If so much efforts have been made towards reducing poverty, why is poverty on the increase?
  2. What is the effect of the increasing poverty rate on the economy of the state, and the nation.
  3. Are there, (or are there not) better ways or strategies of implementing poverty reduction programmes to make them more effective?

1.2 Theoretical Background/Framework

Recent literature on poverty, and its reduction uniformly acknowledges different theories of poverty, but the literature has classified these theories in multiple ways (for example, Blank, 2003; Goldsmith and Blakely, 1992; Jennings and Kushnick, 1999; Rodgers, 2000; Shiller, 1989; and Slaw, 1996).

Virtually all authors distinguish between theories that root the cause of poverty in individual deficiencies (conservative) and theories that lay the cause on broader social phenomena (liberal or progressive). Ryan (1976) addresses this dichotomy in terms of “blaming the victim”. Goldsmith and Blakely, for example distinguish “poverty as pathology” from “poverty as incident or accident”, and “poverty as structure”. On his part, Schiller, (1989) expounds a theory of poverty based on “flawed characters, restricted opportunity, and Big Brother”. Jennings (1999) reviews a number of variants on these individual society conceptions, giving emphasis to racial and political dynamics. But for Rank (2004), he takes a clear theoretical stance, “the focus on individual as the cause of poverty is misplaced and misdirected”. He contends that structural failings of the economic, political and social system are the cause instead. The various theories of the causes of poverty are divergent, and each of these results in, and determines the type of intervention strategy and policies. As, Schiller (1989) puts it, “which view of poverty we ultimately embrace will have a direct bearing on the public policies we pursue”.

Arising from the preceding analysis of theoretical postulations, five explicit theories on the causes of poverty emerge and strategies for combating it (poverty) based on these theories also emerge. This research will be situated within this framework.

The first theoretical stance is the one that looks at poverty as being caused by individual deficiencies. This theory is a large and multifaceted set of explanations that focus on individual as responsible for their poverty situation. This theory, which is typical of politically conservative theoreticians (like Weber) blames the poor people for creating their own problems, and argue that with harder work and better choices, the poor could have avoided (and now can remedy) their problems. Still other variations of this theory ascribe poverty to lack of genetic qualities such as intelligence, and aptitude, that are not easily reversed.

It is noted that the belief that poverty stems from individual deficiencies is old. Even religious doctrine that equated wealth with the favour of God was central to the protestant reformation (Weber, 2001); and blind, crippled, or deformed people were believed to be punished by God for their or their parents’ sins.

Ironically, neo-classical economics reinforces individualistic sources of poverty. The core premise of this dominant paradigm for the study of the conditions leading to poverty is that individuals seek to maximize their own well being by making choices, and investments, and that (assuming they have perfect information), they seek to maximize their well being. These theories argue that when some people choose short term and low payoff returns, economic theory holds the individual largely responsible for their individual choices – for example, to forgo college or university education or other training that will lead to better paying jobs in the future.

This and similar arguments that cast the poor as a “moral hazard” also hold that “the problem of poverty continues to fester not because we are failing to do enough, but because we are doing too much that is counterproductive (Gwartney and McCaleb, 1985)”. Their economic model would solve poverty by assuring that the penalty of poverty was great enough that none would choose it.

Again, a less widely critiqued version of the individualistic theory of poverty comes from the American values of individualism – the so-called Horatio Alger myth that any individual can succeed by skills and hard work, and that motivation and persistence are all that are required to achieve success, (Asen, 2002).

While scientifically it is routine to dismiss the individual deficiency theory as an apology for social inequality (Fischer, 1996), it is easy to see how it is embraced in poverty reduction policies which tend to suggests that penalties and incentives can change behaviour.

Poverty Reduction Programme from an Individual Theory of Poverty Perspective

Explicitly or implicitly, individual deficiencies have been an easy approach to poverty reduction, not always carefully explored as they get implemented. For instance, such initiatives like job creation, which invariably means pushing the poor to work as a primary goal, coupled or accompanied by an increasing emphasis on “self help” strategies or policies for the poor to pull themselves from poverty, tends to encourage the elimination of other forms of assistance, which invariably reflects the main thrust of the individualistic theory of poverty.

Critics of this theory contend that the primitive approach of individual theories of poverty justify policies that restrict public assistance to services and goods, instead of cash because there is a lack of trust in the discretion of poor people. In sum, to the extent that policy makers or programme leaders hold the individual theory of poverty, it is increasingly unlikely that they will pursue a populist approach to poverty reduction. Thus, in spite of the widespread view that individuals are responsible for their own poverty, people oriented community workers need to look to other theories for more positive approaches.

Poverty Caused by Cultural Belief Systems that Support Sub-Cultures of Poverty

This theory of poverty roots its cause in the “culture of poverty”. This theory suggests that poverty is created by the transmission over generations of a set of beliefs, values, and skills that are socially generated but individually held. For these theorists, individuals are not necessarily to blame because they are victims of their dysfunctional sub-culture or culture. It is believed that since culture is socially generated and perpetuated, reflecting the interaction of individual and community, the culture of poverty is merely a reflection of these conditions and circumstances created by this interaction. Technically, the culture of poverty is a subculture of poor people in ghettos, poor regions, or social contexts where they develop a shared set of beliefs, values and norms for behaviour that are separate from but embedded in the culture of the main society.

The most prominent proponent of this theory is Oscar Lewis. In his illustration, he summed this theory up with a graphic explanation; he notes that once the culture of poverty has come into existence, it tends to perpetuate itself. He notes that by the time slum children are six or seven, they have usually absorbed the basic attitudes and values of their subculture. Thereafter, they are psychologically unready to take full advantage of changing conditions or improving opportunities that may develop in their lifetime.

This theory of poverty based on perpetuation of cultural values has been fraught with controversy. No one disputes that poor people have subcultures or that subcultures of the poor are distinctive and perhaps detrimental. The concern, the critics argue, is over what causes and constitutes the subculture of poverty. These critics advocate a more sympathetic view of the poor. Such theories like Grondona, presents two ideal value systems, which he calls mental models, one of which has values only favouring development, the other only with values which resist development. He goes on to identify twenty cultural factors on which the two value systems stand in opposition.

Like Grondona, Harrison, identifies values which differ between “progressive” cultures and “static” cultures. Religion, value of work, overall justice and time orientation are included in his list. Also, Lindsay presents what he calls “patterns of thought” which stand at opposite poles of the developmental scale.

Grondona, Harrison and Lindsay all feel that at least some aspects of development-resistant cultures need to change in order to allow underdeveloped nations (and cultural minorities within developed nations) to develop effectively, and move out of the poverty trap.

Anti Poverty Programme from a Culture of Poverty Perspective

These theories argue that if the theoretical reason for poverty lies in values and beliefs, transmitted and reinforced in sub-cultures of disadvantaged persons, then local poverty reduction efforts need to intervene to help change the culture. According to Valentine’s (1968), suggestion of different models of cultural theories of poverty, this may work in three ways.

  1. If one thinks of the culture of the poor as a dysfunctional system of beliefs and knowledge, the approach will be to replace that culture with a more functional culture that supports rather than undermines productive work, investment, Feins, and Richardson, (2003) conducted a number of experiments in which they tried to relocate the poor from ghetto housing projects into suburbs with the hope that new culture will help the family emerge from poverty.
  2. In the second way on the culture of poverty as an opportunistic and non-productive subculture that is perpetuated over generations, then the focus will shift to youths to stop the recreation of the detrimental culture. Things like Head start and many educational programmes are according to Zigler and Styfco (1996) successful at providing an alternative socialization for the next generation to reduce poverty, though the programmes will need more coherence and quality.
  3. A third approach to the culture of poverty is to try to work within the culture to redefine culturally appropriate strategies to improve the group’s well-being. For example, poverty reduction workers can enhance and build upon cultural values with the subcultures of the poor which can become assets for economic development. Local crafts co-operatives are a good example of programmes that tap the traditions of small business and entrepreneurship found in subcultures, as different from urban gangs and other non-productive cultural practices.

Poverty Caused by Economic, Political and Social Distortions or Discrimination

Whereas the individualistic theory of poverty is advocated by conservative thinkers, the second is a culturally liberal approach, this third theory which we now turn is a progressive social theory. Theorists in this tradition look not to the individual as a source of poverty, but to the economic, political and social system which causes people to have limited opportunities and resources with which to achieve income and well being. Research and theories in this tradition attempt to redress the problem noted by Rank, Yoon and Hirschl (2003), “poverty researchers have in effect focused on who loses out at the economic game, rather than addressing the fact that the game produces losers in the first place”.

Much of the arguments by theorists in this block suggest that the economic system is structured in such a way that poor people fall behind regardless of how competent they may be. The problem of the working poor is increasingly seen as a wage problem linked to structural barriers preventing poor families from getting better jobs, complicated by limited numbers of jobs near workers, and lack of growth in sectors supporting lower skilled jobs.

In their contention, they believe that elimination of structural barriers to better jobs through education and training should be the focus of man power training and other poverty reduction programmes. The problem highlighted indicates that in spite of the perceived importance of education, in actual sense, funding per student in less advantaged areas trails behind that which is spent on richer students; teachers are less adequately trained, books are often out of date or in limited supply, amenities are few, and the culture of learning is under siege. This systemic failure of the schools is thus thought to be the reason poor people have low achievement, poor rates of graduation, and few who pursue higher education, (Crubb and Moe, 1996).

A parallel barrier exists with the political system in which the interest and participation of the poor is either impossible or is deceptive. Some research have confirmed the linkage between wealth and power, and has shown how poor people who lack influence, are less involved in political discussions, and how their interests are more vulnerable in the political process, as such excluding them at various levels. Coupled with all these, poor people lack influence in the political system that they might use to mobilize economic benefits and justice.

A final broad category of system flaws associated with poverty relate to groups of people being given a social stigma because of race, gender, disability, religion, party affiliations, or other groupings, leading them to have limited opportunities regardless of personal capabilities. In this sense, Green (2006) describes the situation as “poverty as a label”, in which case he says the terms describing the poor are given to them because they lack social and economic capital, and thus have little to no influence on how they are represented and / or perceived in the larger community. Invariably, this theory contends that no treatment of poverty can be complete or effective without acknowledging that groups against which discrimination is practiced have limited opportunities.

Poverty Reduction Programme from a Structure of Poverty Perspective.

This theory holds that if the problem of poverty is in the system rather than in the poor themselves, a poverty reduction response must be to change the system. This will sound easy to say, but hard to do, which may explain why so many policy programmes revert to trying to change individual behaviour. For instance, how can one get more jobs, improve schoolings for the poor, equalize income distributions, remove discrimination and bias from housing, health care, education, employment and assure equal political participation by poor person. Indeed, none of these tasks are easy and all require interventions into the systems that create the barriers that block poor persons from gaining the benefits of society.

Changing the system can take place at three levels. From the grassroots level, social movements can exert pressures on vulnerable parts of the system to force desired change Rank (2004) argues that change could be mobilized to support better jobs for the poor and a more effective system of income distribution. Such examples like unionization, civil rights movements, and women’s rights movements, could help with improving the job distribution pattern.

A second strategy or level in poverty reduction involves creating and developing alternative institutions which have access, openness, innovation, and a willingness to help the poor gain well-being. This strategy is at the cornerstone of most poverty reduction strategies which involve corporations aiming to provide alternative business, housing, schooling and such programmes. In addition, business strategies such as employee ownership or networks of minority or women’s business, also work. Community owned businesses such as community banks also provide alternative financial structures. On the whole, page, and Simmons (2000) sum this position up by stating that change can actually occur through the policy process, such as providing jobs, raising wages, expanding the safety net, assuring effective access to medical care, and co-coordinating social insurance programmes.

Poverty Caused by Geographical Disparities

This theory of poverty holds the view that rural poverty, ghetto poverty, urban disinvestment, southern poverty, third-world poverty, and other framings of the problem represent a spatial characterization of poverty that exists separate from other theories. While these geographically based theories of poverty build on the other theory, it calls attention to the fact that people, institutions and cultures in certain areas lack the objective resources needed to generate well being and income, and that they lack the power to claim redistribution. As Slaw (1996) puts it, “Space is not a backdrop for capitalization, but rather is restructured by it and contributes to the system’s survival. The geography of poverty is a spatial expression of the capitalist system”.

That poverty is most intense in certain areas is an old observation, and explanations abound in development literature about why regions lack the economic base to compete. Some explanations like that of Morrill and Wohlenbery (1971) include disinvestment, proximity to natural resources, population density, diffusion of innovation, and other factors. According to them, spatial differential or geographical location has much to do with poverty as much as the possession or lack of individual skills.

This position is supported by Goldsmith and Blakely (1992), who contend that the joint processes of movement of households and jobs away from poor areas in central cities and rural regions creates a separation of work, residence, and economic, social and political life.

These various arguments by these theorist are reflective of the theory of spatial concentrations of poverty which comes from economic agglomeration theory. This theory is used to explain the emergence of strong industrial clusters. The proponents of this theory, Bradshaw, King, and Wahistrom (1998) demonstrate how propinquity of similar firms attracts supportive services and markets, which further attracts more firms. In reverse, the propinquity of poverty or the consequences of poverty (like crime and inadequate social services) generate more poverty, while competitive areas attract business clusters, drawing away from impoverished communities. They point out further that low housing prices for example in such locations may attract more poor persons, leading to housing disinvestment by building owners.

A second theoretical insight is from what is called, central place theory and related human ecology, (Rural Sociological Society, 1990). From this perspective, rural areas are often the last stop of technologies, and low wages and competitive pricing dominate production. The lack of infrastructure that allows development of human resources limits economic activity that might use these resources. An enormous body of literature holds the view that advantaged areas stand to grow more than disadvantaged areas even in periods of general economic growth, and that there will be some trickle down but not an equalizing effect, as some classical economists would want to posit. This is applicable of course to individuals living in these advantaged areas, as they possess comparative advantage over their other disadvantaged counterparts.

A third perspective involves what Wilson (1987) calls selective out migration. He contend that people from ghetto areas with the highest levels of education, the greatest skills, widest world view, and most extensive opportunities were the ones who migrated out of central city locations to other places. In addition, he argued that these departing people also were the community’s best role models, and were often civic leaders. In this context, rural poverty is similarly attributable to selective out migration, including population density (including low rural density and the negative impact of high density).

Poverty Reduction Programmes from a Geography of Poverty Perspective

A geographical theory of poverty implies that responses need to be directed to solving the key dynamics that lead to decline in depressed areas while other areas are growing. Instead of focusing on individuals, businesses, governments, welfare system, or cultural processes, the geographical theory directs community developers to look at places and the processes by which they can become self-sustaining. Although this is difficult, but studies exist to show that it can be done.

Some who view poverty as a regional function made proposals around the 80s to encourage out migration under the premises that it would reduce poverty to have people in a place where there was a growing economy. Instead, literature reveals that the rural poor, moving to the city became urban poor, with much the same hopeless situation. It has been said that much of urban poverty is actually displaced rural poverty.

The focus of poverty reduction efforts based on this theory, will be to strive to build stronger geographical areas, through some of the following ways:

  • Improving local industry competitiveness through cluster development (Blakely, and Bradshaw, 2001);
  • Redevelopment and other tax based incentive programme for economic development and channeling private investment;
  • Inclusionary zoning, affordable housing and similar programmes that place conditions on development;
  • Downward revitalization and civic improvements that increase amenities and make areas more attractive, hoping to stimulate employment and tax revenues;
  • Infrastructure investment, including parks, water, waste disposal, schools and other public facilities.
  • National and regional reinvestment that shifts funds from one area to another, all these aimed at trying to leverage community assets, integrate economic development in an area with housing, and other spatially allocated factors, and hoping that the changes will increase opportunities for residents.

Poverty Caused by Cumulative and Cyclical Interdependencies

The previous theories have demonstrated the complexity of the sources of poverty and the variety of strategies to address it. This final theory of poverty is by far the most complex and to some degree builds on components of each of the other theories, in that it looks at “the individual and their community as caught in a spiral of opportunity and problems, and that once problems dominate, they close other opportunities and create a cumulative set of problems that make effective response nearly impossible”, (Bradshaw, 2000). This cyclical explanation explicitly looks at individual situations and community resources as mutually dependent, with a faltering economy, for example, creating individuals who lack resources to participate in the economy, which makes economic survival even harder for the community since people pay fewer taxes.

This theory has its origin in economics in the work of Myrdal (1975), who developed a theory of “inter locking, circular, interdependence within a process of cumulative causation”, that helps explain economic underdevelopment and development. Myrdal notes that “personal and community well being are closely linked in a cascade of negative consequences, and that the closure of a factory for instance can lead to a cascade of personal and community problems, including migration of people from a community”. Thus, the interdependence of factors creating poverty actually accelerates once a cycle of decline is started.

Cycle of poverty is defined by Sher (1977) as “a cycle by which education and employment at the community and individual level interact to create a spiral of disinvestment and decline, while in advancing communities, the same factors contribute to growth and well-being”. For example, at the community level, a lack of employment opportunities leads to out-migration, closing retail stores, and declining local tax revenues, which leads to deterioration of schools, which leads to poorly trained workers, leading to firms not being able to utilize cutting edge technology and to the inability to recruit new firms to the area, which leads back to greater lack of employment.

This cycle repeats itself at the individual level. The lack of employment leads to lack of consumption and spending due to inadequate incomes and to inadequate savings, which means that individuals can not invest in training, and individuals also lack the ability to invest in businesses or to start their own businesses, which leads to lack of expansion, erosion of markets, and disinvestment, all of which contribute back to more inadequate community opportunities. Health problems and inability to afford preventive medicine, good diet, and a healthy living environment become reasons the poor fall further behind. This cycle of poverty also means that people who lack ample income fail to invest in their children’s education, the children do not learn as well in poor quality schools and they fall further behind when they go to get jobs. They are also vulnerable to illness and poor medical care.

Another level of the cycle of poverty is the perspective that individual lack of jobs and incomes leads to deteriorating self-confidence weak motivation, and depression. The psychological problems of individuals are reinforced by association with other individuals leading to a culture of despair, perhaps a culture of poverty under some circumstances.

We see that this brief description of the cycle of poverty incorporates many of the previous theories. It shows how people become disadvantaged in their social context which then affects psychological abilities of the individual level. The various structural and political factors in the cycle theory reinforce each other, with economic factors linked to community and to political and social variables. Perhaps its greatest value is that it more explicitly links economic factors at the individual level with structural factors that operate at a geographical level. As a theory of poverty, the cyclical theory shows how multiple problems cumulate, and it allows speculation that if one of the linkages in the spiral was broken, the cycle would not continue. The problem however is that the linkages are hard to break because each is reinforced by other parts of the spiraling system.

Poverty Reduction Strategies from a Cycle of Poverty perspective

The complexity of the cycle of poverty means that solutions need to be equally complex. Poverty is not just one cause but many, while most poverty reduction efforts seem to focus on only part of the solution. Poverty reduction effort ought to be multifaceted. In this theory, steps taken to break the cycle of poverty are necessarily complex, but they are a better solution to poverty then most single factor efforts. The limitations of the first four theories of poverty lead scholars to appreciate the efficiency of the cyclical theory. It is to be noted that the efforts at helping poor people to achieve self sufficiency appears a very popular phrase in poverty reduction. While called several names, the emphasis is on providing both “deep and wide” supports and services for people, (miller, 2004). From the perspective of this theory, a full step out of poverty requires six interdependent elements of self-sufficiency that can be identified and tracked. Miller identifies these as, income and economic assets; education and skills; housing and surroundings; access to health care and other needed social services; close personal ties, as well as networks to others, and personal resourcefulness and leadership abilities.

A key piece of this comprehensive approach to helping individuals from poverty is that there is no way the public can do all of this for every person without first increasing social capital among communities and subcultures of the poor. The idea is to help groups of poor people build supportive communities with shared trust and mutuality.

However, in facing the overwhelming task of helping both poor people and their poverty neighborhoods, there is no easy answer to breaking the cycle of poverty. Assets mapping (Kretzman and McKnight, 1993) is a way of identifying whatever strengths the community has and using them to solve problems in the most effective way rather than to spend time identifying problems for which there may not be adequate answers.

As it were, poverty reduction efforts should be structured around these three focal points for breaking the cycle of poverty. These programme structures, like the cyclical theory itself, combines strategies and tools from response to the other theories of poverty.These programmes should strive to be:

  1. Comprehensive. The first strategy to breaking the cycle of poverty is to develop comprehensive programmes. Such programmes are ones that include a variety of services and that try to bridge the individual and community needs.
  2. Collaborative. The key to doing extensive programme without becoming too uncontrolled, or failing is to collaborate among different organizations to provide complementary services that by their combination of efforts, the output is greater than could be done by either alone. Collaboration involves network among participants, though coordination can vary from formal to informal. And should involve;
  3. Community Organizing. Finally, community organizing in a tool by which local people can participate to understand how their personal lives and the community well-being are intertwined. Breaking the cycle of poverty must include individuals to participate as a community in the reversal, just like individuals create the spiral downward when they and their community interact in a cycle of failure.

In summing up, it is noted that a hydra-headed problem requires an equally hydra-headed solution. Goldsmith, and Blakely, (1992) insist that policies that build community institutions help to close the gap between poor and rich communities, rather than some polices which widen it. Increasing the effectiveness of poverty reduction programmes requires that those designing and implementing those programmes need to not only develop adequate theories of poverty to guide programmes, but they must make sure that the approaches and strategies are as comprehensive as possible.

1.3     Statement of the Problem

It has been known that almost every government in Nigeria has embarked on one form of poverty reduction programme or the other.

However, what has remained unanswered is the extent to which these policies and programmes have actually impacted on the target population – the poor.

Recent studies on the subject of poverty and its reduction agencies, as well as programmes indicate that considerable gap exists between the target objective – reducing or eradicating poverty, and the achievement of this target objective. It seems that the efforts of various governments are ineffective and therefore not much has been done to actualize the expected benefits. For poverty reduction agencies, their results do not seem to justify the huge financial allocations they have received over the period. Poor people’s perceptions of poverty reduction institutions are largely that of ineffectiveness and irrelevance in their lives as government’s poverty reduction activities contribute little in their struggles to survive and rarely help them to escape poverty. More disturbing is the fact that despite the colossal amount of resources committed to those programmes, the poverty situation aggravates, and more and more people fall into the poverty region instead of escaping from it.

1.4 Purpose of the Study

The overall purpose or objective of the study is to assess the impact of the various poverty reduction policies and strategies that have been formulated and implemented between 1987 and 2007 (twenty year period of review) in Cross River State.

Specifically, the objectives of this study are:

  1. To identify these policies and strategies for poverty reduction
  2. To assess their effectiveness and impact on the poor or target group
  3. To assess their capability for reducing poverty
  4. To identify reasons for their success or failure
  5. To suggest and recommend appropriate poverty reduction strategies / policies for Cross River State.

1.5 Research Questions

For the purpose of this research, the following research questions will be addressed.

  1. What impact have the poverty reduction policies had on health practices among the citizens in the state between 1987 and 2007?
  2. How have the poverty reduction policies for the period under review affected the housing pattern in Cross River State?
  3. To what extent have the poverty reduction policies of the Cross River State government between 1987 and 2007 impacted on the nutritional practices of the citizenry?
  4.  How has the poverty reduction policies of the Cross River State government impacted on the availability and access to education among the citizenry?
  5.    What is the impact of poverty reduction policies on the availability of public utilities in Cross River State within the period under review?
  6. To what extent have the poverty reduction policies of the Cross River State government affected the level of self reliance among the poor within the period under consideration

1.6 Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses will be formulated to guide the study:

1. Health practices have not been significantly influenced by the poverty reduction policies of the Cross River State government.

  1. The poverty reduction policies have had no significant impact on the availability of housing in the state.
  2. There has been no significant relationship between poverty reduction policies and improved nutrition among the target citizens in the state.
  3. There has been no significant impact of the poverty reduction policies on the availability and access to education by the poor.
  1. There has been no significant impact of the poverty reduction policies on the availability of public utilities in the state.
  1. Poverty reduction policies have not significantly influenced the level of self reliance through skills acquisition among the poor in the state.

1.7 Significance of the Study

Achieving significant results reducing poverty often hinges on what is done, how it is done, when it is done and whom it is targeted at. It is obvious from several studies that poverty reduction policies in Nigeria have failed to achieve their stated objectives. Several reasons may be adduced for this failure. It therefore requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders to contribute to the success of this all-important but elusive goal. Such efforts can only be meaningful if it stem from an empirical study in order to realize not only her own local targets and objectives, but also to help her in achieving the global lofty objective of eradicating poverty by the year 2015. Pointedly therefore, this study is going to be significant for a number of reasons.

  1. The study is expected to be a concerted effort to identify, articulate and highlight the existence, causes, and effects of poverty in Nigeria.
  2. It is an effort at streamlining poverty reduction strategies towards making them more potent, and hence more beneficial to the target population.
  3. The study is also expected to benefit a number of groups, especially stakeholders of poverty reduction efforts such as public and private sector players, planners, managers, coordinators and monitors of poverty reduction agencies and the poor who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the efforts and indeed the general public.
  4. The research is expected to become part of a data bank for operators as well as policy makers in poverty reduction activities.
  5. It will also arouse the interest of students and researchers to conduct more researches in the field of poverty reduction.

1.8 Scope of the Study

This study will be limited to an assessment of the impact of poverty reduction policies in Cross River State between 1987 and 2007. In this work, the researcher is concerned with what impact these policies have made in the areas of :

  1. Health care practices
  2. Housing, shelter and accommodation
  3. Nutritional practices, habits and patterns among poor people.
  4. Availability and access to education and training.
  5. The presence or otherwise of public utilities like electricity, pipe born water, sanitary services, access roads, social services, security, etc.
  6. Engendering self reliance among the poor people in Cross River State.

1.9 Research Assumptions

In conducting this study, the researcher is going to make a member of assumptions, which it is hoped will help to put the work in proper perspective. Among these assumptions is the following:

  1. That within the period under consideration, poverty reduction policies have remained ongoing irrespective of the frequent change in leadership which characterized that period.
  2. That the beneficiaries (or the target population) of such programmes have had the opportunity to interface with the different types of policies over this period and as such are able to give a dispassionate assessment of the impact such programmes have had on them.
  3. That the subjects for this study shall have been born at least 18 years ago.

1.10 Limitation of the Study

1.11 Operational Definition of Terms

In the context of this research work, certain terms will be used in a manner that can be understood only in relation to the discussion here. This is not to suggest that new meanings are being created for such terms, but the terms are used here operationally. Some such terms are briefly explained here.

Absolute Poverty: This refers to insufficient or total lack of necessities and facilities like food, housing, medical care, education, social and environmental services, consumer goods, recreational opportunities, neighbourhood amenities and transport facilities, etc.

HDI: This refers to Human development Index which is a measure of longevity, knowledge and income. Longevity is measured solely by life expectancy at birth, while knowledge is measured by adult literacy rate.

Indicators of Poverty: Generally refer to measures of economic performance as well as the standard of living of the population. This normally combines the measures of income or purchasing power or consumption with those social indicators, which highlight availability and access to the basic necessities of life.

Poverty: As will defined elsewhere, is a state where an individual is not able to cater adequately for his or her basic needs of food, clothing and shelter; is unable to meet social and economic obligations, lacks gainful employment, skills for self reliance, assets and self esteem; and has limited access to social and economic infrastructure such as education, health, portable water, and sanitation; and consequently, has limited chance of advancing his or her welfare to the limit of his or her capabilities.

Poverty reduction: Means all formal activities geared towards lowering the rate and prevalence of poverty in the country.

PRSP: Poverty reduction strategies paper is a position paper introduced by the World Bank that is a development plan borne out of collaborative efforts of a broad range of stakeholders in poverty reduction. It is normally designed and implemented through the participation of all involved in one way or the other in poverty, poverty reduction and its other related issues.

Copyright © 2021 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0

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