Monday, Jul 23, 2018 Author: Karrie McLaughlin
The provision of basic public services to the poor and near-poor is largely the responsibility of sub national governments in Indonesia. Following the country’s “big bang” decentralization in 2001, sub-national transfers to the province, district and village levels now account for half of the government budget (net of subsidies and interest). District governments, in particular, are largely responsible for managing health and education services, supervising 75,000 villages and managing 80% of the road network. Progress in basic service delivery, therefore, depends on sub national governments’ capacity to analyze and solve problems through collective action.
As the locus of service delivery provision has changed, so too has its nature. While not overcome entirely, many of the basic infrastructure problems have been addressed: schools and health centers have been built, teachers, midwives and doctors have been hired, citizens are using their services. The low hanging fruit have largely been plucked, and districts are left looking toward the top of the tree at more difficult problems, such as improving the quality of education or health services or coordinating services for a more meaningful impact.
There is a common element to these more difficult problems—they are complex, context-specific and cannot be solved by districts simply acting as implementers of one-size-fits-all prescriptions from the central government. The root causes of these problems are multi-faceted and frequently vary from one location to another, and as such require a careful understanding of the local situation and the development of solutions that respond specifically to local needs. This calls for district governments to play a more active role in identifying, understanding and responding to local service delivery problems that they face.
MELAYANI – Untangling Problems in Improving Basic Services (Menguraikan Permasalahan Perbaikan Layanan Dasar di Indonesia) is a pilot program that seeks to respond to these challenges. It does so by building local government capacity to analyze and solve service delivery problems. In three pilot locations, the World Bank team is working with local government departments and leadership to help them unpack and explore problems that they have identified in search of root causes and contextually relevant solutions.
Politically, MELAYANI takes seriously the content of the 2017 World Development Report. It supports local government to select the problems that they feel are most important, helping to ensure that they are locally politically salient. With its focus on problems, the program encourages cooperation and coordination: by anchoring analysis in an issue, rather than a particular “sector” it allows both for more actors to be involved and for the identification and mobilization of new resources. In addition, by providing support to local governments to better understand citizen problems, it provides clearer arguments for policy stability and commitment.
Technically, the program weaves together several strands of thinking. It is anchored in the Program Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach, but augmented by other schools of thought, including Deliverology and experiences of the World Bank team in implementing MELAYANI’s predecessor, the Rapid Assessment and Action Plan (RAAP) approach. The program shows the cycle that government follows as well as how the MELAYANI coaches support them along the way.
In addition to supporting local governments, MELAYANI has the additional goal of shining a light on how capacity building and local level change can happen. Future blogs will track the progress of the program and share lessons from the field.
 A full collection of the PDIA papers is available at https://bsc.cid.harvard.edu/publications/policy-area/pdia-building-state-capability
 Barber, Michael, Andy Moffit and Pauk Kihn (2010) Deliverology 101: A Field Guide for Educational Leaders. Corwin: California, USA
 World Bank (2015) Rapid Assessments and Action Plans to Improve Delivery in Subnational Governments. World Bank: Washington DC