AuthorUche, Okala Agwu
  1. Introduction

    Developing nations are faced with the challenges of development. In spite of popular participation in the execution of projects, there seems to be inadequate information on the need for sustainable development. Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is about creating inclusive, secure, resilient, and sustainable cities and human settlements (UNDP, 2015, p. 1). In other words, it seeks to make human settlements secure, resilient, and sustainable. Sustainable development is all about the potential of man to live through the use of fair management of sustainable resources without damaging the natural environment or through overexploitation of natural resources and without undermining human and social communities (Ballara, 1991, p. 44). Sustainable development promotes indigenous culture. Don and Kutzmark (2006, p. 1) assert that sustainable development will increase traffic flow, decrease waste, reduce crime, lessen the impact of natural catastrophes, preserve energy and resources, safeguard culture and history, and conserve energy. As the rivalry between towns for high-quality businesses intensifies, it may promote more feasible economic growth and assist in integrating and connecting a community's diverse components to create a synergistic whole.

    Sustainable development fundamentally started from the environmental preservation standpoint in order to ensure the growth and advancement of human culture. Natural resources, ecological potential, environmental development, national management, demand for present and future generations, and other important themes are all discussed (Lijing, Yonghong and Yanli, 2011, pp. 629-632).

    Community development aims to establish and enhance democracy at the grass-roots level by developing structures designed to act as instruments of local participation. It makes use of existing institutions and organizations within the community. Njoh (2002, pp. 233-248) justified the need for community participation in development by asserting that it promotes better decision-making, and enables a project to be built on strength, traditional beliefs, and sustainability because of the psychological motivation that results from participation. However, UNESCO (2005, p. 1) maintained that rural people are predominantly illiterate and have a low level of education. Therefore, social education becomes paramount. This type of learning has the major role of eliminating illiteracy and enhancing the flow of technical knowledge. This is because poverty is rampant in rural communities. The highest education level of the majority of people in rural communities is secondary education. This has implications for community development project sustainability.

    Globally, poverty has remained a bane in project sustainability, especially in developing societies. The UNDP (2015, p. 1) listed poverty as one of the goals of the SDGs. It emphasized that poverty is not all about a lack of income and resources. This includes lack of access to basic resources such as education, lack of involvement in decision-making processes, social inequality, and alienation that have a negative effect on children's mental well-being by the atmosphere created by it. Hsueh and Yan (2011, pp. 135-144) maintained that project sustainability helps to integrate community development with economic, social, and environmental goals. It focuses on understanding the ties between economic issues and other aspects of the neighborhood, including shelter, job opportunities, training, environment, ease of access to healthcare, and arts. Additionally, it has become a strong challenger to conventional methods. A participative, comprehensive, and equitable approach to community development results in good, noticeable improvements in communities. It improves and stabilizes local economies, reduces poverty, increases community control, and restores the health of the environment. In most developing nations, access to land is not a problem. Often, the constraint to development is premised on finance. Green (2015, p. 1) noted that there are people who still live on less than $1.25 per day.

    In Nigeria, laudable programs have been designed at various levels by successive governments to enhance community development. According to Gana et al. (2019, pp. 34-40) one such program was the establishment of the River Basin Development Commission (RBDC) across the country in the 1970s. The River Basins Development Commission emphasized the management of water resources for agricultural purposes. Other programs include Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) among others which have been channeled into rural development (Uche et al., 2019, pp. 115-131). At their inception, these programs were seen as a solution to the problems of community development. However, notwithstanding the successes recorded in the execution of projects such as roads, hospitals, electricity, schools, and water, there is a need to examine the strategies for promoting the sustainability of community development projects in Southeast Nigeria. Consequently, the research will respond to the following questions:

    * What are the sustainable community development projects?

    * What are the strategies that promote the sustainability of community development projects?

    * What are the measures that enhance the strategies for sustainability of community development projects?

    We believe that addressing the aforementioned research questions will help enhance the potential of community members within the study area and possibly other developing nations alongside seeking for projects' sustainability. Above all, it could help in formulating policies to promote the sustainability of community development projects. The paper explored the theoretical framework, study methodology, results, discussion of findings, implications of the study to other developing countries, conclusions, and recommendations to promote the sustainability of community development projects in Southeast Nigeria.

  2. Theoretical framework

    The study is anchored on the Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) which is often referred to as Sustainable Livelihood Framework (SLF). The notion of SLA was first introduced by the Brundtland Commission on Environment and Development formally known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). However, the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development promoted a broad goal of eradicating poverty (Krantz, 2001, pp. 1-38). The Sustainable Livelihood Approach is based on participatory approaches and was established to coordinate and reinforce the activities of the organization to alleviate poverty (Serrat, 2017, pp. 21-26). The SLA is both a principled and pragmatic position since it is impossible to imagine being able to enforce it without people's involvement. Therefore, SLA forces engagement with those expected to be supported by an intervention or policy. It is not an operation that can be carried out in an office. The SLA allows people to learn from each other in a community-based learning setting and from outsiders through participatory approaches (Butler and Mazur, 2007, pp. 604-617). As a result, SLA draws on the long tradition of the participatory movement in development, and within SLA, strategies and approaches that have been used for years of stakeholder engagement can still be used. It also acknowledges that multi-sector markets must be taken into consideration, meaning it is comprehensive (Tao and Wall, 2009, pp. 137-152).

    The sustainable livelihood approach activates the consideration of interactions and trade-offs in a community. In order to investigate livelihoods in North-West Costa Rica, McLennan and Garvin (2012, pp. 119-130) used SLA and demonstrated how the action was important to help reduce the negative effects of 'local-felt' trade-offs between conservation on the one side and resource usage on the other. Such trade-offs are popular where there is no alternative for people, and SLA will also serve to illustrate the challenges and explore possible solutions. Indeed, the dilemma is not only for the rural population, since SLA has been used in urban contexts (Simon and Leck, 2010, pp. 263-275).

    Elasha et al. (2005, p. 1) further illustrated the use of a sustainable livelihood framework in assessing the communities' capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. The framework was used to test the Community-Based Rangeland Rehabilitation for Carbon Sequestration and Biodiversity pilot project. The pilot project was conducted with a grant from the United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility in Giveighik, Bara Province of North Kordofan State. The main goals of the community project were twofold: (a) carbon sequestration by the implementation of a sustainable, local-level natural resource management system that prevents degradation, rehabilitates, or improves rangelands; and (b) minimizing the likelihood of production loss in a drought-prone area by providing an alternative for sustainable production, an increasing number of livelihood alternatives so that out-migration will decrease and production will stabilize. Institution-building, training, rangeland rehabilitation, and community development initiatives such as water harvesting and management, rural energy management, revolving credit program, and drought contingency planning are included in the bundle of sustainable livelihood measures undertaken by the project villagers. A project assessment by an independent panel of experts found that the community project is exceptionally successful in achieving the development goals and efforts are being made to expand the project to more communities.

    A major attraction of SLA is to identify...

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