Smallholders with total farm holdings of less than five hectares constitute about 70% of the farming population in Nigeria, producing most of the food crops thereby contributing to food security and poverty reduction. This huge contribution not withstanding they are faced with the challenges of inadequate agricultural infrastructure, much needed for optimal productivity. There is therefore a need to improve the general livelihood of these largely agrarian rural poor. The impact of the Community Driven Development (CDD) approach of Edo State Government Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) in meeting the overall development objective of sustainably increasing access of the poor to rural infrastructure was evaluated in this study. The study was carried out in 44 communities spread across the three Senatorial Districts of Edo State. A stratified sampling procedure was employed in selecting the 22 treatment communities and their corresponding counterfactuals for this study. Fifteen households were selected from each of the 44 communities to give a total sample size of 660 respondents. Descriptive and quantitative techniques such as frequency tables, means, standard deviation, percentages, comparative cost ratios and Difference-in-Differences (DD) were employed in analyzing the data generated. Results of the socioeconomic characteristics of respondents showed that they were mainly smallholder farmers with mean farm size and annual income of 0.23ha and N 133,500, respectively. Their average age and household size were 45 years and eight persons respectively. Over 60% of the respondents were men and about 40% of them had formal education up to secondary school level. Results of the economic analysis indicated that the cost of all the Micro Projects embarked upon by Edo State CSDP averaged about N4,867,704.11. The estimated comparative cost ratio showed that the cost of CSDP Micro Projects were, at the least, about a third of the average alternative cost of similar projects embarked upon by the State Government, Local Government Areas (LGAs) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The highest comparative cost ratio of 4.55, was recorded in the skills acquisition project. The lowest ratio of 1.6 was however recorded in the town hall (civic center) project. Results of the causality between CSDP Micro Projects (MPs) and outcomes in the six sectors considered showed that the education sector had a reduction of 29.72 minutes in the average time taken by students to get to school and 0.69 kilometers in average distance to school due to Edo State CSDP intervention in the construction and rehabilitation of schools. In the water sector, a DD of 425 persons fetching water for domestic purpose was recorded, a 47% reduction in the cost of buying water with 65% of the community members now having access to portable water as a result of CSDP intervention in the provision of motorized boreholes. Average distance to water source equally reduced by 5.82 kilometers, while average time spent in fetching water reduced by 10. 56 minutes. The result also showed a 61% reduction in reported cases of water borne diseases, with 70% of the respondents opining that there is a change in personal hygiene after the provision of water facilities by Edo State CSDP. In conclusion, the effectiveness of the CDD process in improving the lives of the agrarian populace in Edo State has been shown empirically. Effort should be made by stakeholders in agricultural development to embrace this process and ensure the sustainability of these gains.


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