A delegation from Afghanistan, consisting of four representatives from the Aga Khan Foundation/ Aga Khan Development Network (AKF/AKDN) and seven from the District Development Assembly (DDA), recently made a study visit to PNPM locations in Indonesia. Despite some problems with immigration on their arrival in Jakarta, they were on time the next day to meet with stakeholders of PNPM’s oversight body at their office in Jakarta on Monday, December 16, 2013. The delegation was welcomed by Sujana Royat, Deputy of Poverty Alleviation for the Coordinating Ministry of People’s Welfare.
“We wish to learn first-hand about the Community Driven Development (CDD), mainly by PNPM Mandiri, and to have discussions with implementers and beneficiaries,” said Nematullah, representing DDA.
He thanked the government of Indonesia for supporting their study visit.
“Afghanistan is facing complex problems in building community-driven development programs, due to a war in our country that has lasted more than 30 years,” Nematullah added.
They spent nine days in Indonesia to learn more about CDD through PNPM Mandiri, visiting Jakarta, Banten, and West Nusa Tenggara. Their first day in Indonesia was spent in discussions with key PNPM people at the national level in Jakarta, including those from PNPM Rural, PNPM Generasi, and the Pro-poor Planning, Budgeting and Monitoring (P3BM) program.
The next day, they visited Banten to learn more about P3BM. They listened to explanations from district and sub-district officers about how P3BM could help local governments to generate pro-poor plans and budgets sensitive to socio-economic inequalities. In Banten they also visited Pelawat village in the Ciruas sub-district and had an intensive discussion with the villagers. That evening they left for Lombok in NTB.
In Lombok, they had an interesting meeting with the head of the Local Community and Village Empowerment Agency (BPMD) of NTB, Tajuddin Erfandy, and with some local PNPM actors before leaving for Sumbawa Besar. According to the BPMD Head of NTB, this province has received approximately US 100 million in block grants from PNPM since 2003. He confirmed that PNPM has contributed to decreasing the poverty rate in their region.
“In 2012, the poverty rate here decreased to 17.97%. I am sure that PNPM has something to do with it,” said Tajuddin Erfandy, Head of BPMD.
That figure was very impressive to the delegation members. Among them were Kay Keshraw, one of DDAs, and Saleh Mohammad Samit, one of AKF members, who engaged in a long discussion. Saleh said that PNPM is a development program that has catalyzed improvements in the quality of life of Indonesians at the community level. This is confirmed by the fact that people continue to be interested in PNPM and continue to work with PNPM to make the program successful.
Saleh continued that PNPM has helped the communities stand on their own feet and improve their overall well-being. This reflects the government’s commitment to the poor and indigenous people.
“Afghanistan would benefit from such a program, since 36% of the population lives in extreme poverty with little optimism for the future,” Saleh said.
In Sumbawa they studied in two sub-districts: Utan and Lopok. In the Utan sub-district they learned about the work flow of PNPM Rural, from village planning meetings through to the activity implementations and maintenance. They had opportunity to witness a handed over meeting from the implementation team to the village and a special meeting for women. They observed a road stretching between two villages, built by the villagers so farmers would have access to sell their rice crop. They also visited a home industry producing palm sugar ran by a women group and a community health post and saw how PNPM Rural supports community health and assists women in the labor process.
On the last day of their field visit the delegation visited Lopok sub-district to learn more about PNPM Generasi, especially how this program contributes in MDGs achievement through the 8 indicators in health and 4 indicators in education. They observed health activities and early childhood activities in this village that were supported by PNPM Generasi. They also attended a group meeting to identify the poorest people in the village (social mapping) and the PNPM Generasi activity targets.
After their study sessions, the delegation members found that the integration of coordination and collaboration among sectors such as health and education is the key to the success of PNPM. According to Saleh, this is unusual among government entities and civil society bodies in the third world, and even in developed countries.
“During the time the delegation spent with PNPM staff, and visited communities and saw their implemented projects, we found many unique and interesting points that impressed us,” Saleh added.
Another interesting aspect is the Participatory Community Planning (PCP) process by communities through self-help, with PNPM only providing some of the materials.
“We are interested in the special meetings for women, and how communities go about identifying which poor people should receive the grants. We would like to implement this in our country. Maybe it could start with pilot projects in some areas,” Saleh explained.
The second is conducting social behavior, accountability, and good governance training for communities before starting the physical implementation of projects at the community level.
“In this way, communities are ready to support the program and participate in all stages of the projects,” Saleh said.
Saleh said that, in their opinion, the main actors in PNPM are community members. They also found that the direct implementation of projects by communities has reduced the misuse of budget and fraud, and moreover it built a sense of ownership to PNPM for community members.
“This is one of the most important values and the main reason for the success of PNPM,” Saleh ensured.
However, Saleh added, PNPM should continue to improve its current system for assuring proper budget execution on specified projects. PNPM has to ensure that quality human resources are available to maintain its image with the communities and government.
“I personally think it is important that officials take responsibility for maintaining the values of PNPM, and through their good work demonstrate these values. This will allow PNPM to develop its corporate culture and reputation with confidence,” Saleh suggested.