The Role Of Communication On Community Development

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The Role Of Communication On Community Development


The purpose of this research work is to examine critically, the role of communication on the development of various communities in Lagos state. As all the communities in Lagos State cannot be examined, the researcher have decided to use Ibeshe Community in Ikorodu environs as a case study.

Based on some findings, it has been revealed that communication and access to various vital information by Local Communities can lead to their development. Community development itself is a broad term, in which no specific definition have been accepted. This could be tagged to the fact that, it encompasses all spheres of human and community lives.

Various developed countries in the world have attached their development towards having access to right information at the appropriate time. Therefore, it has been stipulated that communication can boost and foster community development.

Moreso, the media are regarded as the agent of communication.

According to the United Nations, the media has it as a primary objective to deliver developmental information at the appropriate time.

This research work is divided into five chapters:

  1. Chapter one gave a general background to the study. It entails the statement of the problems, purpose of the study and significance of the study. Four research questions and two hypotheses were formulated. Also, the scope and limitations of the study were stated.
  2. In chapter Two, relevant literatures were reviewed. This entails textbooks, Journals, articles and write ups from the internet.
  3. Chapter Three is mainly concerned with the research methodology. The data needed for this research were gathered through the use of questionnaire.
  4. In chapter Four, the data gathered through questionnaire were analysed. The questionnaire were in two parts; first section deals with Bio data while the second part has to do with research questions and hypotheses.
  5. Lastly, in chapter five, summary, recommendations and conclusion were presented. This entails information on the vital role of communication on community development.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The issue of community development has taken a new trend globally. Inhabitants of various communities are expected to mobilize their resources and direct them towards their development.

Community development is a skilled process and part of its approach is the belief that communities can not be helped unless they themselves agree to the process, that is, community mobilization. This is a process where community action, either internally or externally promoted, is planned, undertaken and assessed by community’s individuals, groups, and organizations on a participatory and steady basis to improve health, hygiene and education level and better overall living conditions in the community. Julius Nyerere (1973).

Ukaegbu et al (1993) explains that, community development projects are seen in terms of their expected contributions to the better life of a target population. Community development activities needs peoples involvement at all stages of its delivery.

Community development has been sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit goals of community people, aiming to achieve through collective effort, a better life that has occurred throughout history. Maureen Ngozichukwuka Egenti. (2005).

The 1954 Ashridge conference in England defined community development as a movement which is designed to promote better living for the whole community with the active participation and on the initiative of the community.

In 1956, the United Nation Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) an organ of the UN defines the term community development as the processes by which the effort of the people themselves are united with those of governmental authorities, its agencies and non-governmental organizations to improve the economic, social and cultural conditions of communities, to integrate these communities into the life of the nation and to enable them to contribute fully to national progress.

Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to effect change in their communities. Ashok Kumar (1980).

Committee for Development, U K (2005) stated that, community development is the structured intervention that gives communities greater control over conditions that affects their lives.

Several scholars have regarded community development as the life- blood of every nation. Its importance is so enormous that every country of the world, either developing or developed is implementing series of developmental programmes, so as to foster national development.

Community Development Programmes is a socio-economic programme aimed at developing and reconstructing the rural society. It aims at involving people in the development programmes and making them become self reliant and co-operative. It also aims at encouraging them to take new means for development of the rural society. It is a strategy which brings about an increase in the standard of living. Its importance can not be underrated.

Some areas in which community development programmes have been of help are as follows:

  1. Growth of Agriculture: Agriculture occupies and plays an important role in any country’s economy. The development of agriculture is directly within the womb of community development. Community development activities seek to promote agricultural extension programmes so as to boost food production.
  2. Health Services: Another gift of community development programmes is the creation of facilities for public health. Through medical orientation, infant mortality and epidemics have been reduced.
  3. Motivation of People towards Nation Building: Community development programmes plays important role in mobilizing and directing the people towards development. It helps in imparting the spirit of community living and oneness into the community people which in turn fosters development.

However community development can be of various forms. Community development as a process; as a process it is responsible for bringing about social changes. Community development is not only a process that brings about social changes, but also a method of achieving it based on the co-operation of people. Moreso, community development is also seen as a programme on the basis of which process of change is carried out. Note, without proper programme, neither method nor the process shall have any utility. Lastly, community development is also seen as a movement, that is a movement for eradicating illiteracy, unemployment, and poverty.

In outlining community development strategies, some factors which enhances community development must be put into consideration, part of which are; foremost, the community development project or programme should be holistic in nature. Through participatory research method, a comprehensive need assessment should be undertaken. This will ensure that community inhabitants play an active part in the community development project. Secondly, in regard to the impact the project will have on the community, there should be a long term vision for the community.

Note, as some factors enhances community development activities, so also do some factors militate against it. There are numerous obstacles which may hinder the ideal community development process. Awareness of the obstacle may be the first factor. Given the holistic nature of an ideal community development project, lack of partnership or unified vision among community members may impede this process. Moreso, lack of access to information or lack of access to community meeting might pose a problem to community development process. The entire community inhabitant should be properly involved and have access to information that will foster their development; else the community development effort will be futile.

However, Communication is regarded to have been an integral part of community development. Many countries of the world have attached their development to an effective communication network.

Furthermore, it is said that communication can not be detached from the mass media and traditional media. Communication is a tool in the hand of the media; therefore it is paramount for the media to disseminate appropriate and vital information to the community dwellers at the right time. Having access to this information, knowledge and ideas, community development will take place as the people will participate in their own development. This will tend to reduce rural-urban drift to the bearest minimum.

According to Ashok Kumar (2005) communication is considered to be a vital tool for rural and community development. Rural and community people should not be denied the right to have access to vital information that will foster their development.

Based on the report of the panel of Newseum in Washington D.C on September 12, it was ascertained that communication is an essential tool for advocacy and mobilization in which every government must use for mobilization towards development.

Ann Bush, ( communication and the Media, 2007) stated that mass media which is the media for large audience could serve as a medium for Adult Education and Literacy programmme which will foster community development.

People’s participation in community development programmes is becoming the central issue of our time and this participation requires communication. Development programmes can only realize their full potential if knowledge, ideas, information and technology are shared effectively and if populations are motivated and committed to achieve success. Communication is central to this task in many ways. For example it enables planners, when formulating developmental programmes to consult with people in order to take into account their needs, attitudes and traditional knowledge. Only with communication will the project beneficiaries become the principal actors to make development programmes successful (UNDP Human Development Report, 1993).

Issa (1998: 132) asserts that, community development forms the platform for national development but this could only be achieved through an effective communication system. He observes that “the rural populace suffers from acute low productivity, social and economic retrogression, lack of access to developmental knowledge and ideas due mainly to ignorance which is also the direct consequence of either inadequate or total lack of communicating necessary information, ideas and knowledge to them”.

The usage of communication techniques, activities and media, gives people powerful tools both to experience change and actually to guide it. An intensified exchange of ideas, knowledge and information among all sectors of the society can lead to the greater involvement of people in a common cause. Communication is a fundamental requirement for appropriate and sustainable rural and community development.

In achieving this great task, one can infer that the various forms of media, that is the modern and traditional media, should form the channels of information dissemination to the rural inhabitants. With this, ideas and new knowledge could be shared between the community dwellers and this will in turn foster their development.

According to the United Nation (UN) communication plays a key role in community development, most especially women development. The area where communication is said to have been important includes, helping women’s group to increase their self determination and to broaden the dialogue between sexes regarding rights, privileges and responsibilities.

Mabogunje in his book “the role of communication in development, 2008” highlighted the followings as the area in which communication can be of help to the rural dwellers


In December 1992, it is ascertain by the International Conference on Nutrition that 780 million people of the world, mostly rural dwellers suffers from chronic malnutrition. Therefore, at the planners’ level, incorporation of nutritional concerns into developmental policies is of great importance.

Rural poverty:

Most rural areas are characterized by reliance on traditional knowledge and production system. In order to eradicate this social ill, communication between local communities and national planners and policy makers becomes important. New knowledge and skills need to be impacted into the rural dwellers so as to better their living conditions.

Population growth:

Over population in the rural areas is exerting pressure on natural resources, food production and the ability of government to provide basic services, population growth depends on choices made by individuals. Helping people to make more and informed choices by raising their awareness on the implication of family size and unwanted pregnancy and family planning, forms an important role that communication plays in both community and national development.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The fundamental aim of community development is to empower community inhabitants with essential and adequate information, ideas, skills and knowledge which will foster their development. Development can only be achieved if only adequate developmental information is passed to the populace of the rural areas.

Community development is the coming together of community dwellers or inhabitants to identify their felt needs and mobilize their resources and direct them towards the achievement of their needs. The Lagos state government has designed and implemented several developmental programmes, hoping that, such programmes would yield a desired result.

Millions of Naira is spent annually to provide drugs to General hospitals for the treatment of diseases. It was discovered that community dwellers lack hygienic attitude, they live in dirty environment and drink in pure water. Moreso, poverty ravages the community inhabitants as most of them are peasant farmers and petty traders.

Lagos state has the potential to develop all sects of human endeavors, more especially if communication services are fully enhanced in the rural communities throughout Lagos State. Effective communication service in the rural community enhances development, despite the condition of the rural dwellers in Lagos State, one may ask; in what ways can effective communication service contribute to community development in Lagos State. The answer lies in the usage of the various forms of media to disseminate new knowledge and skills into the rural community inhabitants, the provision of essential amenity like electricity, usage of epffective communication to eradicate illiteracy and ignorance and finally mobilizing the community inhabitants to participate in activities that will foster their development.

Though, communication plays an important role in community development but, most rural areas in Lagos state lacks social amenity like electricity, which is assumed to be the major source of power supply to information and communication gadgets; television, digital video display and computers. Then we are faced with the problem of how information, ideas and knowledge would be disseminated by the media for development when essential amenity is not available.

1.3 Research Questions

  1. How does communication influence projects sustenance?
  2. What are the trends in communication channels used by development agencies and government during project activities in the Ibeshe community?
  3. How does communication help to promote projects in bringing about change to the lives of people?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

As highlighted in the foregoing sections, communication can be a key tool that can enhance community participation in decision-making concerning their own wellbeing. This study therefore focuses on the following objectives;

  1. To identify how communication influences project sustenance using Ibeshe community in Nigeria as a case study.
  2. To identify the communication channel used by development agencies and government during projects implementation in the Ibeshe community.
  3. To identify how communication can promote projects to help bring change in the lives of the people of Ibeshe community.

1.5 Significance of Study

The fundamental objective of this case study is to add to the existing knowledge on the effect of communication on community development. The focus is based on the inhabitants of Ibeshe community. As most rural areas in Lagos state are characterized with low infrastructural development, illiteracy and ignorance, the researcher seeks to know whether passing appropriate developmental information, ideas and knowledge to the community dwellers can foster their development.

Therefore, the outcome of this case study will be of immense benefit to man power planners, administrators and community development programmes executors. As information gathered will be use to determine whether communication and its channels could be use to foster community development.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The essence of this study is to examine the influence of communication on community development in Lagos State. As all the communities in Lagos State can not be covered owing to time and financial constraints, this research work is limited to Ibeshe community in Ikorodu environs.

Ibeshe community is an ancient community, situated in Igbogbo Bayeku Local Council Development Area. The community is govern by the council chairman and the traditional monarch.

Questionnaires were administered to the council officials, whilst some were shared among the inhabitants of Ibeshe community, and the king and his chiefs.

1.7 Organization of the Study

This study was divided into five chapters.

  • Chapter One introduced the research topic, its scope and the statement of the problem. It also shed light on the justification and objectives of the research.
  • Chapter Two outlined what communication for development is and how it related to community participation. It also presented a review on the shared thoughts and the work or theories of researchers on the topic.
  • Chapter Three described the methodology used. It basically presented the research philosophical framework that was developed base on literature to answer the research questions.
  • Chapter Four also presented the empirical data gathered via interview, questionnaires, observations, documentation review and some elicitations and their analysis based on some theoretical framework.
  • Chapter Five finalized and concluded the research by describing the most notable conclusions, suggestions and areas to be researched on in the future on how communication can ensure a project’s sustainability.

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Recommendations and Conclusion

5.1 Introduction

The findings obtained from the field data on the role communication plays in sustaining development projects in the Ibeshe community was presented and analysed in the previous chapter (Chapter Four). This chapter, which happens to be the final chapter of the study, concludes by providing a summary of the major findings from the study. This is done in relation to the concepts identified from literature reviewed in Chapter Two, as it provided an understanding of the role communication plays in sustaining development projects in the Municipality. Recommendations and possible areas for further research are also outlined in this chapter.

5.2 Summary of Findings

The purpose of this research was to explore the role communication plays in sustaining development projects in the Ibeshe community. Qualitative and quantitative research methods, including document reviews, semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, participant observation, and a focus group were used to collect data pertaining to the specific research objectives: to identify how communication influences project sustainability; to identify the communication channel used by development agencies and government during projects implementation and to identify how communication helps in bringing change to the lives of people in the Ibeshe community. In achieving these objectives, two projects were considered. These projects were rural electrification and rural water supply. The findings are therefore summarized in fulfillment of the objectives.

5.2.1 Communication’s Influence on Projects Sustenance

To identify how communication influences project’s sustenance, the study first considered whether the three components of development communication thus social mobilization, advocacy and behaviour change communication were used to involve people before, during and after the implementation of rural electrification and rural water supply within the selected communities.

The study established that the components of development communication were used in the implementation of rural electrification in Egbin, Ikorodu and Imota to involve members in the implementation of the project. However, the approach was not adopted in the case of Bayeku. The resultant effect was the reckless burning of the electricity poles and the reaction from the community toward the wanton destructions of the poles in the Bayeku and its surrounding communities. In the case of the water projects, the areas where implementers employed development communication approach to involve the people to participate in the projects resulted in the sustenance of such projects. The resultant effect of using communication in the water supply project demonstrated a culture of maintenance towards project sustenance in the same community that had demolished the electricity poles for the rural electrification project.

Though the communities were communicated to in both the electrification and water supply project, it was clear that the type of communication used lacked the core development communication principles. The findings revealed that the absence of participatory communication in some of the projects did not help implementers understand the challenges the community goes through in maintaining such developmental projects thus come together to find solutions to them. The study therefore affirms the assertion of Mefalopolus, (2004) that by facilitating mutual understanding and by building trust among stakeholders, communication becomes of critical value in fostering participation and strengthening sustenance.

5.2.2 Communication Channel

UNICEF (2008) proposed that channels must be selected to fit the participants and the communication task; and analysis of these channels will help prevent the use of a communication channel for the wrong reasons. Against this backdrop the level of education of respondents and the channel the implementers use to communicate to communities was explored.

The study has established that interpersonal communication was the major means of communication by which project implementers informed the communities about their projects. Though implementers used interpersonal communication to contact opinion leaders, the opinion leaders on the other hand could not relay the information to their community members. Some community members complained they did not understand the projects fully and also were not able to ask further questions because they did not have the chance to meet with the implementers themselves and had to fall on the opinion leaders for clarification. It would have been more appropriate if the implementers had employed interpersonal communication to involve the entire community. Interpersonal communication would have encourage communities to interact more with project implementers and also give them direct feedback for them to revisit their plan if there was the need to do so.

5.2.3 Projects Bringing Change through Communication

According to Mambert (1971), a person communicates with another “to change what he thinks or does not think, feels or does not feel, knows or does not know” He went on to say, “Communication itself is that change” Change, then, refers to the influence one has on another’s knowledge or behavior. Development communication is a major tool that helps to bring change in the lives of people.

The study established that there had been change in the selected communities, especially social change. This change came about with implementers adopting the behaviour change communication. Institutions sensitized the community members on the need to abandoned old practices such as drinking from streams and rivers to drinking the potable water provided. It should be noted here that communication did not solely bring about the change but aided other factors to achieve the social change in the selected communities. The social changes include the creation of jobs and expansion in existing one through the rural electrification project. Also guinea worm disease that was very common in the selected communities has now been eradicated through behaviour change communication.

5.3 Recommendation

From the outcome of the survey, it has been established that though implementers communicated to the communities before implementing the projects, there were still problems as to how the communication was carried out and these problems are hindrance to achieving sustainability in development projects. In view of the above findings and taking cognizance of the fact that there need to be holistic approaches to sustain development projects of which communication has a role to play, the following are recommended:

Firstly, project planners should design and adopt appropriate communication model towards sustaining projects for project implementers and communities. This will enable players in this field to have a procedure to follow during implementation of development projects and also know the roles they are supposed to play as far as sustenance of the project is concerned.

Secondly, communities can sustain their projects if they are highly involved in the projects. It is highly recommended that the collaboration and empowerment form of participation is encouraged by development agencies. With these forms of participation communities can come out with what their needs are and because they will initiate it themselves they will be accountable and take responsibility for its sustenance. It is again recommended that communities and for that matter households should cultivate the habit of embarking on self-initiated projects and also set up committee to manage initiated projects. They should be their own agent of change.

Thirdly, project implementers should adopt the social mobilization element of development communication by reaching out to opinion leaders who have the tendency to reach out to a large number of community members to inform them about the projects. This will help all members to become aware of the projects as these leaders have greater influence on the people

Fourthly, institutions such as World Vision Nigeria, The Municipal Assembly and other stakeholders in development planning together with communities must have sustainability strategies on projects they implement. These sustainability strategies must include communication strategies which should indicate how the various stakeholders will be involved in promoting a project’s sustenance and also how the strategies will be communicated to the communities. These strategies should also be made available for all stakeholders to be aware of the roles they will play as far as sustainability of projects are concern.

Finally, it is recommended that appropriate cost sharing and recovery could improve sustenance of electricity and water supply. Communication should be used to raise awareness on the importance of tariff payment and users should be encouraged to set a reasonable tariff that enables them to recover sufficient reserve fund for repairs and maintenance of the projects. The dominant occupation of the selected communities according to the survey is farming. It is therefore recommended that the communal spirits which include ‘nnoboa’ should be encouraged to help raise funds to repair projects when they develop faults. Regulations or subsidies should be put in place for people who cannot afford to pay the set tariff.

5.4 Conclusion

The study set out to explore among other things the role communication plays in sustaining development projects in the Ibeshe community. This was against the backdrop that most development projects are not sustained and do not achieve its intended objectives. The study revealed that though project implementers contacted the community before implementing the projects, the components of development communication; social mobilization, advocacy and behaviour change communication were not employed to reach out to the entire community. The electrification project at Bayeku has been destroyed because aside other things that were not put in place, the communities were not involved from the inception to completion of the project.

Again, it has been established that both implementers and communities face lots of problem in sustaining development projects. It is therefore necessary that a communication strategy model be develop and adopted by all stakeholders in the field of development planning to curb the challenges.

In a nut shell, a project’s sustenance depends on many caveats but the study focused on how communication can play a role in sustaining these development projects. Findings from the field survey therefore has suggested that communication plays a very important role so far as the sustenance of development projects are concerned as it helps involve community members to be agent of their own development.

Finally, the theory of development communication that “there is no development without communication” has been proven with the case of Ibeshe community of Nigeria.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is communicational communication in community development?

Communication in community development focuses on enhancing the interaction between the people promoting change that will impact positively on improving the living conditions of members of the participating communities and the people with whom they work to actualize their dream.

How does effective communication take place in the community?

Effective communication takes place in the community when the people at the grassroots understand the true purpose and meaning of development, this would require a message which move the people to cooperate with members of the community development committee (CDC) and state authorities to being about positive changes in the community.

What is the role of communication in the development of State?

On a practical level, communication can be seen as essential to the development of state capability, accountability and responsiveness in the following ways: Capability: Consultation and dialogue between state and citizens can in principle improve public understanding of and support for government policies and encourage citizen ownership of reform.

What is the purpose of communicative communication?

Communication has evolved away from its traditional focus on one-way communication for the purpose of propaganda, social marketing, awareness-raising, and influencing attitudes, opinions and behaviour, towards a much greater emphasis on more participatory and deliberative processes of dialogue.

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