This program focuses on helping villages use their fiscal transfers to make sound village development investments. The program seeks to enable and incentivize villages to allocate more of their fiscal transfers from the Village Law to entrepreneurship and to improve the technical quality of these activities. The activity provides financing for three platforms:
Together, these platforms will improve villages’ capacity to plan (and ultimately use) their fiscal transfers for village development investments with a focus on village entrepreneurship, human capital formation, and village infrastructure.
One recent scorching afternoon, a display of colorful squat toilets welcomed curious visitors in the main park of the city of Mataram, in Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province.
These visitors were not looking to buy new toilet bowls, nor were they working on home improvement projects. They were among 350 villagers who went ‘shopping’ for ideas and innovations to improve basic services and infrastructure in their home villages.
The 2017 Village Innovation Festival was organized by the provincial government of West Nusa Tenggara, in collaboration with the Generasi Cerdas dan Sehat Program. Support came from the World Bank, the Government of Australia and Millennium Challenge Account Indonesia. The festival highlighted innovative solutions to address some of the most pressing development challenges faced by village communities.
At the heart of the festival was the implementation of the Village Law (Law No. 6 of 2014 on Villages), which governs the disbursement of village funds in more than 74,000 villages. The law increases the authority and responsibility of the communities on how to spend their village funds. Many believe the village law has the potential to address rural inequality in Indonesia.
Visitors exchanged ideas and know-how on ways to use village funds more effectively to meet their needs, particularly in improving basic social services, and in addressing poverty and inequality.
As I went stall hopping, I was impressed by the creative ideas and the villagers’ dedication to overcome the various constraints they face for public services.
Cutting edge technology may not be the festival’s buzzword but the gathering was not short on solutions that were simple, creative, and applicable to their needs.
I met health worker Sri Santiani, who set up the Maternity Savings Fund (Tabulin), after witnessing how many mothers and expecting mothers experienced the burden paying for the cost of maternity and child care services.
Sri got the idea of a savings program after seeing that many mothers do not have government health insurance, or that they do could not afford to pay insurance premiums. Tabulin helps mothers save up for maternity services. Women can also tap into the savings program for other needs.
The crowd’s favorite was the ‘Contract Midwife’ initiative. The idea was coined by Nonong Muhaemin, a health worker whose village had struggled with high incidences of maternal deaths due to lack of health facilities. The nearest community health center from his Tokolok Village is about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away through difficult terrain.
After Nonong’s village revived the health post service (posyandu) and recruited a midwife exclusively for their village, there were no more cases of maternal deaths during childbirth, and the number of high-risk pregnancies and severely underweight babies/toddlers have also significantly decreased.
Initially the midwife’s salary was paid through the Generasi program, but after seeing the benefits, they now use their own village fund.
Meanwhile, in Mekarsari Village in Suela District, Lombok Timur Regency, an elementary school principal, Sabirin, came up with the idea of a ‘school without walls’.
His village did not have a junior high school. With the nearest being 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, many families could not afford the transportation cost to send their kids to school. Without the prospect of secondary education, many children got married after graduating from elementary school, but got divorced soon afterwards – financial and job insecurity being the main reasons.
Sabirin asked the children if they would continue their education if there was a junior high school in the village and he was met with enthusiasm. Subsequently, SMPN Satu Atap (One Roof Junior High School) opened in 2012, a simple thatched-roof hut built through a collective donation from the community, and with support from Generasi.
Providing free tuition to all students, the new school’s impact on the incidence of child marriage is significant. In 2016, no children has gotten married after graduating from elementary school, compared to 10-12 child marriages in previous years. The school is currently still funded by local community.
Back to the toilet bowl stalls. For the record, it was not there to offer new technology on toilets, rather an invitation for financial institutions to fund credit schemes to own toilet bowls in Indonesia, where about 32% of the total population still practice open defecation.
I’d say that’s a neat idea.
In 2015 and 2016, in the village of Rempek, North Lombok, to ensure the availability of clean water for the community’s daily activities, the village government allocated village funds to maintain and replace water pipes managed by the Village Municipal Water Corporation. The pipes had been installed in the late 1980s to provide coverage to 16 hamlets in a mountainous area covering a total of 38,000 km2. Before the installation of the pipes, community members had to walk up to 1.5 km from their homes to the nearest reservoir to collect water.
Water is now available to community members in their own houses. The village government helps the residents manage water usage by installing a meter faucet in each house. Residents are charged a flat fee of Rp 800–1,000 per m3, which is waived for public facilities such as mosques or schools. The village government also provides water to households free of charge in special circumstances, such as when a household is conducting a wedding ceremony or funeral.
In the village of Pejanggik, in Central Lombok, the village government has used village funds to provide vitamins and regular twice-yearly medical checkups for older members of the community who are not covered by Indonesia’s health insurance program for the poor and near-poor. Last year, 1,200 elderly people joined the program, of whom only around 300 were covered by the national insurance program.
In the village of Loloan, in North Lombok, the village government has allocated Rp 6 million in village funds to provide thread to 10 weavers in the community to increase their working capital. Early this year, the village government provided additional funds to facilitate the purchase of weaving equipment and to pay a senior weaver from the community to conduct training.