This Column is meant to monitor and report on issues that concerns the people of rural communities, in terms of how their development is hindered or facilitated.
Rural development is a process that aims to improve the standard of living of people, living in rural communities.
According to Robert Chambers, rural development is a strategy that enables a specific group of people, poor rural women and men, gain for themselves and their children, more of what they want and need. It involves helping the poorest among those who seek a livelihood in rural communities, to demand and control more of the benefits of rural development. The group includes small scale farmers, tenants and the landless.
Thus, the term rural development may be used to imply any one of the above-mentioned connotations.
To avoid the ineffective floundering among the myriad definitions, we shall define rural development as a process that leads to sustainable improvement in the quality of life of rural people, especially the poor.
According Ebrima Ceesay, Rural Development entails the accessibility of good road networks, safe and clean drinking water, quality Schools where children can achieve quality and relevant education, electricity, decent housing, improved health facilities and improved living standards of rural dwellers.
Ceesay said if these things are available in rural communities, one can say real and meaningful rural development is in the country.
Looking at rural Gambia, one can realize that the problem of rural dwellers revolve around the things stated above, which are seriously neglected.
To ensure rural development, Ebrima said the first thing that needs to be done is to ensure accessibility, by building good road networks linking rural communities; that if one looks at the rural area, one will discover poor rural road infrastructure.
He said he was just coming from Sami district where he visited Bayaba village and Tabanani, with a difficult road network that is un-motorable at this time of the year, talk less of the rainy season; that in these villages, a pregnant woman has to be put on a motor bike or tri-cycle, to travel long hours to get to the main road, not to talk about the closest health facility. Ceesay informed that once communities are linked with good road networks, this can increase the potential for trade and small businesses, as well as mobility from one point the other; that rural road infrastructure is important in ensuring rural development.
Ceesay said he was with the National Assembly Select Committee during the inspection of roads built by the NEMA and FASDEP projects; that some of these roads increase the number of people attending weekly markets (lumos) and this boosts the income of the youth with motor cycles to transport people; that these youth earn between D400 to D1,000 during weekly market days.
Ebrima Ceesay is an Agricultural Officer posted at Kuntuar Regional Agricultural Directorate in the Central River Regional North. His field of study is Agribusiness Management and Agricultural Extension.