The inclusive village model is one of the Indonesian government’s top priorities for the utilization of Village Funds (Dana Desa), a national program that is instrumental in developing villages by bolstering the local economy and welfare of villagers. The inclusive village model invites vulnerable and marginalized groups – such as women, the elderly, people with disabilities (PWDs), the poor, and youth – to take an active role, as part of a participatory approach to village development. However, the lack of clear regulations related to Village Funds often results in the inefficient use of those resources, undercutting their ability to foster inclusive growth, reduce poverty, and combat inequality in rural areas.
Wallacea and the Learning Forum’s advocacy to push for more inclusive villages was based on the results of a citizen perception survey they conducted on how Village Funds were managed in Luwu Utara. Preliminary findings showed that village governments used 80 percent of the budget for infrastructure development such as roads. However, the budget overlooked the needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups as they were excluded from any planning, budgeting, or public discussions in the village work planning process. In February 2022, Wallacea and the Learning Forum delivered a policy brief on the need for more inclusive village fund management to the Regional Planning and Development Agency (Bappelitbangda). The policy brief, among other recommendations, advocated for including vulnerable and marginalized groups in the district government’s allocation and use of Village Funds, and participatory monitoring and evaluation of how the funds are spent. Simultaneously, the Learning Forum members launched a public campaign on the issue to ensure that the Luwu Utara government responded to the recommendations.
The Deputy Head of Luwu Utara District acted by asking the local Regional Poverty Reduction Coordination Team (TKPKD) to work closely with other agencies and the Learning Forum to set up pilot locations in three villages. The initiative was later given a boost by the issuance of a Head of District Decree (SK) No. 188/2022 to establish the pilot “inclusive villages.” “We want to involve the community, especially vulnerable groups, in drafting regulations as part of the development process,” said Alauddin Sukri from the Luwu Utara Bappeda. The three villages followed through on the decree and issued supporting regulations (Perdes) to set forth the necessary actions, among them updating the local population data, allocating funding for vulnerable and marginalized groups, and involving these groups in the village planning process.
In August 2022, the village governments in the pilot areas issued decrees on the formulation of a collaborative governance task force, called FPKR (Forum Peduli Kelompok Rentan, or Forum for the Care of Vulnerable Groups). The FPKR, consisting of local community members from vulnerable and marginalized groups and relevant CSOs focuses on the wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalized groups and represents their voices during the villages’ public hearings, promoting a more participatory approach to the village work planning process and urging the local governments to involve the community directly in making decisions related to the public’s wellbeing. As the initiative gained momentum, the district branch of the Indonesian Association of People with Disabilities (PPDI) lobbied the village governments to allow the involvement of PWDs in the Village Government Work Plan public hearings, which they did for the 2023 Musrenbang (local development planning process) that was held in May 2023.
Wallacea also increased the capacity of the FPKR members to participate in the village development process. They hosted workshops on how to develop village legislations through a community-based participatory approach. The new skillset gave these community members and representatives of local CSOs a valuable tool in drafting future legislation with the involvement of vulnerable groups, as an effort towards creating an inclusive village. One of the pilot locations, the village of Pincara, has shown remarkable progress. The village’s FPKR forum actively took part in the planning and oversight of the Village Funds allocation process for 2023. The task force also helped the local government uphold the principles of transparency and accountability by conducting monitoring and evaluation of the Village Funds’ management and use. Their work yielded positive results: for instance, the village office now has a new ramp and wider stairs for improved accessibility.
Other villages are becoming aware of the results from MADANI’s local solution in Luwu Utara and have voiced their desire to replicate the approach in their villages. The Bupati (District Head) of Luwu Utara, Ms. Indah Putri Indriani, commended the inclusive village initiative and is committed to replicating the approach in other villages. Besides promoting the initiative, the district government is also working to create the legal framework to support such expansion. During a CSO Innovation Festival in June 2023 that Wallacea and the Learning Forum organized the National Alms Agency (BAZNAS) awarded a grant to the Luwu Utara Association of People with Disabilities, further demonstrating civil society’s improved ability to draw funding to strengthening inclusivity.
Wallacea and the multi- stakeholder forum in Luwu Utara will continue their efforts to ensure that village-owned facilities are more accessible to their citizens. Their participatory approach to this inclusive village initiative has strengthened the local government’s confidence in civil society as a trustworthy development partner in support of government programs.