• Background of the Study

Nigeria has the highest concentration of extremely poor people (91 million) in Africa and correspondingly, most of the component states are poor (NEEDS Report, 2003). According to the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) survey of 1996, sixty percent (60%) of Nigerians were living in extreme poverty.

Rural communities have been cut off from the mainstream of urban life because previous governments lacked effective machinery for the implementation of rural development plans in spite of the fact that eighty five percent (85%) of the extremely poor Nigerians currently live in the rural communities (George, 2006). Rural dwellers make up two thirds (2/3) of the country’s total population. The reality of rural areas is the painful paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty (George, 2006).

In Nigeria, the Niger-Delta region is endowed with oil that is explored and exploited by oil companies without compensation (Udoudoh, 2006). Consequently, many rural areas of this region (Niger Delta) are amongst the least developed in the country socially, physically, politically and economically.

Despite an increase in urbanization, the rural communities of the Niger Delta are faced with inadequate and sometimes total lack of basic amenities like all season access roads, electricity, jetties in riverine areas, skill development centres, education and vocational training centres and health centres to stimulate sustainable growth and development.

The neglect in the development of the rural sector has not only widened the gap between rural and urban incomes but has also increased rural unemployment, resulting in rural-urban migration, increase in poverty rate and inequalities in income and access to social amenities (George, 2006). On this basis, the study seeks to appraise the contributions of the European Union Micro-projects programme to the rural development of the Niger-Delta.


  • Statement of the Problem

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria is the mainstream of Nigeria’s economy through its production of oil resources providing about ninety five percent (95%) of the government revenue (Udoudoh, 2006).

According to Onuorah (2005) cited in Udoudoh (2006), in spite of the contributions of this region to the growth of the national economy, the region (Niger Delta) has been neglected by the federal government and the operating multinational oil companies. This region is characterized by inadequate infrastructure like electricity, potable water and good feeder roads. The rural people have low purchasing power and standard of living (Olayiwola and Adeleye, 2005). Due to this situation, there has been a rising concern for indigenes and international organisations with a view to improving the living standard of the rural populace.

In a bid to improve these communities and enhance the living standards of the people, the European Union has set up a Micro-Project Programme as an instrument for the development of the rural communities of the Niger Delta under the authorization of the presidency through the National Planning Commission (MPP6 report, 2006). The European Union adopted its first Micro-Project Programme (MPP3) for the three (3) riverine states of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers in December 1999. The programme (micro-projects programme) was further extended to cover Abia, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo and Ondo States (MPP6). Still, the European Union envisioned the amalgamation of the two (2) programmes to have Micro-Project Programme in nine (9) states of the Niger Delta (MPP9).

The micro-project programme (MPP6) in the six states was funded by the European Union and undertaken at the initiative of the rural communities who have to contribute to this implementation of providing at least twenty five percent (25%) of the project cost in labour, services, cash or kind. The programme commenced in May, 2003 with the objectives of improving the living standards in the poor settlements of the Niger Delta and to develop the people’s economic and social situation in response to the needs of the rural communities (MPP6 report 2006).

The rural communities of the Niger Delta earmarked for the micro-projects programme constitute 1/6th of the nation’s population with indicators of poverty. Some 75-80% of rural population lack sanitation and access to safe drinking water leading to the outbreak of periodic cholera and typhoid, while most schools and health institutions are in serious need of urgent rehabilitation because of increasing number of students and patients (MPP6 published news, 2005).

The programme seeks to enhance, alleviate and improve the living standards of the rural populace through the provision of civic centres, building of school blocks, construction of simple water and sanitary systems, micro-finance schemes, transportation and communication, health centres, income generation, saving and credit, vocational and educational training among others.

Having been in operation for a period of five years with well-defined objectives, it is expected that the activities of the programme (MPP6) will have had significant effects on the living standards of the target population. However, there is a dearth of literature to show the extent to which the operation of the programme (MPP6) has affected the Niger Delta people and the challenges the MPP6 went through in the course of achieving their objectives. It is on this basis that this study has become necessary to fill this gap.


  • Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to direct the study.

  1. Are the objectives of MPP6 central to rural development?
  2. What degree of rural development is reached by the programme (MPP6)?
  • What are the effects of the programme in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria?
  1. Is there any difference in the level of Mpp6 performance among the states?
  2. What was the level of the projects implemented in different sectors of the programme (Mpp6)?


  • Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this research is to appraise the contributions of the Micro-Projects Programme to the rural development of the Niger Delta.

To achieve this aim, the following objectives are pursued.

  1. To examine the objectives of MPP6 and rural development
  2. To appraise the level of rural development of the Niger Delta due to the operation of the micro projects programme
  • To determine the effects of the Micro-Projects Programme in the rural areas of the Niger Delta.
  1. To identify the differences in the level of (MPP6) performance among the states.
  2. To appraise the level of projects implemented in different sectors of the programme.


  • Research Hypotheses

This study adopts the following as research hypothesis.

HO:    The performance level of MPP6 in any state is independent of other states


HI:    The performance level of MPP6 in any state is dependent on other states

HO:    Null Hypothesis: There is no significant effect of the Micro-        Project Programme (MPP6) on the rural development of Niger-        Delta.


HI:     Alternative Hypothesis: There is significant effects of the micro-projects programme (MPP6) on the rural development of the Niger Delta.


1.6    Significance of the Study

The significance of the study is tied to understanding the contribution of MPP6 to rural development in the Niger Delta regions, which is of concern to the international and national development agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals. However, the benefits that will accrue from this research are enormous since its result will reveal the state, which has benefited mostly from the micro-projects scheme, the level of rural development of the Niger Delta will be ascertained and the positive impacts of the programme will also be determined. The recommendations of this research will open up new avenues for further research on other developmental programmes.


1.7    Scope of the Study

The investigation is concerned with the contributions of the European Union Micro-Projects Programme to the rural development of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Edo, Ondo States of the Niger Delta. It also includes the different sectors, which are covered by the micro-projects of water and sanitation, education, income generation, health, transportation and communication with establishment of agro-processing mills.

However the research took cognizance of the positive effects of those projects so far established in the region (Niger Delta) with respect to the duration of the programme.


  • Limitations of the Study

In carrying out this study, it is envisaged that the scope of the study is elaborate and demands much time, as it covers the six states of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. To cope with this problem, the measure adopted for the study was a total reliance on secondary sources of data. Inadequate time and resources informed the collection of information from the secondary source. There is always a high propensity for secondary data to be at variance with actual facts on ground, it is hoped that the gap will not greatly hampered the overall result of the study.


1.9    Structure of the Study

This study is organized into six chapters. Chapter one gives a background information on the appraisal of the micro-projects programme to rural development. It is followed by statement of the problem as addressed by the research, aims and objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, research hypothesis, scope of the study as well as limitation of the study. Chapter two deals with the conceptual framework, review of related literature in relation to rural development programmes and also models that are related to the research. Chapter three presents the study area in which the research was conducted. Chapter four examines the methodology of data collection, the research design and the technique used in analyzing the data. Chapter five gives the data presentation, analysis and discussion of findings. Lastly, chapter six deals with the summary of major findings, recommendations and conclusion.