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Public perception about the implementation of Law No. 6 of 2014 on Villages has generally converged on the issue of Village Funds and Village Associates. In 2016, the funds provided by the central government to the village government have increased twofold to Rp 46.9 trillion, from Rp 20 trillion in 2015. This number is expected to increase each year until the amount of funding received by each village reaches Rp 1 billion per year. For several parties, the distribution of the village fund still does not meet the principle of justice, namely 90% of the funds are divided equally and the remaining 10% are divided based on a formula specified by the government based on poverty, population, area, and geography. If the government changes the funding criteria: 90% to be based on the formula above, while the remaining 10% is divided equally, the government must distribute around Rp 900 trillion, in order to provide a minimum amount of Rp 1 billion per year per village (Erani, 2016). Besides the issue of village funds, the issue of village associates (pendamping desa) is still a subject of intense controversy. As this involves tens of thousands of persons, the issue becomes even more heated. In April 2016 alone, there are 33 thousand persons engaged as a ‘associates of the villages, 10,600 of which were formerly from the National Program for Community Empowerment in Rural Areas (PNPM MPd) and 22,400 new associates consisting of 1,000 experts, 4,000 associates placed at the district level, and 17,000 local associates in the villages.
Unfortunately, as a result of these two issues, the other objectives of the Village Law seem to be forgotten, lacking attention from the public. In two years of implementation of the Village Law, people are too focused on the issue of village funds and village associates. In fact, village issues are not only limited to these. There are other issues that people need to know about the Village Law, particularly concerning the intended outcomes of its formulation, which are, among others to:
- Provide recognition and respect for the existing villages with their diversity,
- Provide clarity and legal certainty on the status of the villages in the state system,
- Preserve and promote customs, traditions, and culture of rural communities,
- Encourage initiatives, movements, and participation of the community in the development of the potentials of rural and assets of the villages for the common welfare,
- Create professional, efficient and effective, open, and responsible village administration,
- Improve the quality of public services for rural communities,
- Improve the socio-cultural resilience of rural communities,
- Promote the economy of rural communities and overcome the gap of national development, and
- Strengthen the community as the subject of development.
As a response to the incomplete public perception of the implementation of the Village Law, various parties concerned about village development were gathered in the National Consultation: Villages Building Indonesia, including civil society groups, professional organizations, academia, the central government, provincial and regency governments, as well as the village governments, to discuss the strategic agenda in December 2015. More than three hundred persons involved in the national meeting were committed to realizing nine strategic agendas that will announce the ‘victory’ of the villages. These nine agendas are:
- Carrying out agrarian reform and just spatial arrangement as the basis for policy development and empowerment of rural communities,
- Creating social and ecological justice to ensure the safety of people and the sustainability of rural areas,
- Transforming rural economies through Rural Economic Granaries to increase community participation in production and distribution, as well as protect the economic resources of the villages,
- Creating high quality and democratic community participation to nurture young leadership of the villages,
- Realizing inclusive villages that interact with and provide benefits to marginalized community groups, women’s groups, minority groups, and disabled groups,
- Giving recognition, promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous communities, later to increase to indigenous villages,
- Ensuring rural women’s access to resources,
- Improving public services in order to meet the basic rights of rural communities, and
- Ensuring the provision and fulfillment of rural information systems based on information technology evenly and equitably.
Aligning perspectives and working together to encourage the independence of the village are not easy tasks. There is a need for a vehicle to create a supportive environment. We, the Center for Regional Studies and Information (PATTIRO), believe that one of the effective vehicles to create a conducive environment is a space for discussion that emphasizes the spirit of learning.
As part of the efforts to create the learning arena, PATTIRO is developing an integrated portal named Kedesa.ID.
Kedesa.ID is a tool intended for the public, including civil society organizations, academics, policy makers, and individuals concerned on the issue of villages to work together transparently. Kedesa.ID is present to create a supportive and conducive environment to implement the Village Law as a whole through a discussion space that emphasizes the spirit of learning. All stakeholders involved in efforts to encourage the independence of the village are expected to share the same viewpoint, and expected develop optimal synergy. The central government, for example, should have a coherent worldview that all ministries/agencies with authority are able to harmonize measures and regulations issued in order that rules do not clash between each other. Similarly, the regency/city governments always need to consider the needs and interests of the village so that policies do not contradict with the spirit of independence of the village. On the other hand, the village governments should also increase their capacity so as to create a more democratic and better practice of village governance over time.
The Kedesa Integrated Portal (www.kedesa.id) has four menus: blog, wiki, repository, and forum. The blog menu is provided for articles related to implementation of various regulations on the village, village governance practices, as well as articles in the form of ideas for improvement of the villages. Everyone can contribute freely after initial registration at no cost. The wiki menu is provided to include a discussion and annotated documents of the Law collated by PATTIRO. Each Kedesa.ID account holder can contribute by providing additional information or clarification. Moreover, the wiki menu includes a host of other materials related to village governance practices. The repository menu is provided as an online library that accommodates a wide range of documents about villages that can be used by practitioners and researchers concerned about the issue of villages as their study material. The forum menu is provided to Kedesa.ID users to discuss freely and in a relaxed manner about villages on certain topics agreed altogether. In other words, the Kedesa.ID portal is a place of learning that can be utilized by the public concerned with the issue of independence of the village. In addition, PATTIRO also organizes various discussions involving experts about villages, policy makers and the general public, the results of which are used and dedicated as a source of learning about the implementation of the Village Law, which can be utilized together through Kedesa.ID platform.
Visit Kedesa.ID site by clicking on this link.