Members of the Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) were able to see firsthand how the National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM Mandiri) enables communities to plan and manage the development activities in their areas, and they were impressed. They saw how PNPM Mandiri became a vehicle for community development. APRACA is an organization consisting of banks from 21 countries.
Accompanied by Agus Gunawan, Managing Director of APRACA Indonesia, four APRACA members from India and Sri Lanka visited a PNPM Rural location in Tangerang District of Banten on Thursday, October 24, 2013. During this visit they witnessed how a community is able to manage PNPM block grants and use the funds for village development and community activities.
Their first destination in the province was an Activity Management Unit (Unit Pengelola Kegiatan – UPK) office in the Sukamulya Sub-district. This office was established by the community in 2009 when PNPM Rural was first instituted in the sub-district. Managed by the community, it is responsible for grants as large as IDR 7.05 billion, including revolving loan funds for 487 groups with more than 4,400 members, all of them women.
“With some facilitation and technical assistance, we can see that communities are able to plan and manage the development activities. In addition, transparency and information-sharing allows villagers to engage and monitor the activities themselves,” said Mr. Bavuka C.N., Assistant to the General Manager of the Financial Inclusion Cell from Vijaya Bank, India.
In the UPK office, APRACA members were able to easily find out about the progress of activities, usage of block grants, and the results of community meetings as all this information was displayed on an information board.
After visiting the UPK office, APRACA members also had an opportunity to observe some sub-projects that were built, managed, and maintained by the community, and facilitated and funded by PNPM Mandiri Rural. These projects, located in villages around Sukamulya, included an early childhood education unit, an irrigation system, and a concrete road. They also met with one of the beneficiaries of the revolving loan-fund (RLF).
Another impression they took away from their field visit was how the program has made consultants and facilitators agents of change in spearheading the development of the community. “This is very important. Thus the role of facilitators in community assistance should be optimized by understanding the development of community-based ideology,” said Mr. P. M. Premadasa, Assistant to General Manager of Bank of Ceylon Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka.
PNPM was also recognized as a program that prioritizes the needs of rural communities. Technical assistance, monitoring and evaluation, as well as proper training are vital to the success of the program. “The facilitation is needed and so women, poor, and marginalized communities can participate in the development process. In the future, it would be very helpful if the planning process could be made simpler and does not take such a long time to be realized,” said Mrs. E.M.S.K. Dangampola, another Assistant to the General Managers of Bank Ceylon in Central Province, Sri Lanka.
APRACA is an organization for rural and agricultural finance that helps promote productivity, inclusive growth, self-reliance, and welfare for the rural poor in the Asia-Pacific region. This organization has a mission to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of rural finance and improve access to financial services through a network of knowledge-sharing and learning, capacity-building, research, and exchange of expertise. As of October 2013, a total of 68 institutions in 21 countries in the region are affiliated with the APRACA as members.