Quality of life of the rural community: a comparison between three cities.

Author:Yassin, Sulaiman Md
 
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INTRODUCTION

What is quality of life: Quality of life, happiness, wellbeing and utility are often seen as one and they are frequently used interchangeably. Quality of life can be defined as an individual's perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns (WHOQOL Group, 1993). Quality of life quantifies the difference, or the gap, at a particular period of time, between the hopes and expectations of the individual and that individual's experiences (Calman, 1984). Quality of life is always seen as the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income, but in fact it is not the same. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment, but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time and social belonging. If quality of life is defined as we suggest, then only the person living that life is fit to judge its quality, for only they can assess the gap between their perceived expectations and current reality (Nord, 2001).

Aspects to be measured for quality of life: Many studies have come out with the aspects of quality of life of the rural community. Table 1 clarifies to us some of the recent studies conducted locally and internationally on the aspects to be measured for the rural community quality of life

Table 1: Aspects of quality of life to be measured Name of the Aspects of QoL emphasized researcher/organization Athiyaman and Walzer Education, health, parks and recreation, (2008) crimes free, employment opportunities Malaysian Quality of Life Income and distribution, working life, Index (MQLI) (2004) transport and communication, education, housing, environment, family life, social participation, public safety and culture and leisure. Nilsson et al. (2004) Food, strength and work, family, support and independence, spirituality and health The West Wicklow Rural Transportation, Child minding provision Communities Consultation and play facilities, Project (2004) access to health care, road safety, environmental services, education and training, information and advisory services, supporting local voluntary efforts Bloom et al. (2001) Health, education and nutrition; developing rural infrastructure and financial institutions; promoting the involvement of rural people in the political process; and, improving the status of women Malaysia Quality of Life Income and distribution, working life, Index (MQLI) (1999) transport and communication, health, education, housing, environment, family life, social participation and public safety Department for Human capital, social capital, natural International Development capital, physical capital (1999) and financial capital Felce and Perry (1995) Physical well-being, material well-being, social well-being, emotional well-being and development and activity emotional well-being and development and activity and financial capital Barnard and Van Der Merve Social functions, facilities, housing, (1990) standard of living, demographic measurement, social measurement, The current situation on quality of life of the rural community in Malaysia: Malaysia is well known for its rural development. As one of the developing countries in the world, Malaysia has put focus on a number of aspects such as poverty eradication, agriculture development (Hassan et al., 2010) and ICT development (Samah et al., 2010). Besides this, the government of Malaysia has set two stages of rural development transformation and evolution. The first stage was planned from 1957-1994. Under this period two policies had been developed which were policy on Pre New Economy Policy and New Economy Policy. Under these policies, among the target of rural development set by the government were providing basic infrastructure, agriculture development based on main commodities, equity development, efforts on poverty alleviation, land and regional development and dissemination of subsidy. On the second stage of transformation (1994-2020), it is based on the New Philosophy and Policy on Rural Development which focuses on achieving the status of developed nation in 2020. Within this period, two new policies have been formulated and known as National Development Policy and National Vision Policy. Under these two policies the focuses are on balanced development, human resource development, regionalization of land development authorities, an improved quality of services for better quality of life, achieving sustainable development, poverty alleviation and lower income group, developing attractive, developed and profitable rural areas and focus of rural development on specific groups. This balanced development ideology put forward by the government is to ensure both physical development and human development goes hand-in-hand The impact of these two development phases have already emerged. This is evident from on the recent statistics provided by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development (MRRD). The impact of rural development transformation and evolution on the rural community can be clearly seen on the increase of their level of income. In 1999, it was noted that the monthly income per month per rural household was RM1,718 compared to RM2,545 in 2009. To further develop the rural areas, in the recent Tenth Malaysia Plan (10MP) a total of RM145 billion will be allocated for the physical, economic and social development in which undoubtedly the rural community is one of the main targets of such development. The impact also can be seen on the educational development when almost half a million of the rural students were offered places at the university for pursuing their studies at bachelor level. In the period of 2006-2009, a total of 1,419.26 km of new and repaired roads have been made available in the rural area. Based on the fact that majority of the "senior people" live in the rural areas and always related to a lower QOL due to their health condition (Douki et al., 2010; Taragh and Ilali., 2010 and Shafipour et al., 2010) access to the health services has been spread widely for the rural community. This can be seen when a total of 1927 rural clinics have been established by the...

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