Linida Story, When Villagers Open Up Local Government
Linida, as beautiful it may sound is not somebody’s name, nor a government project. It is a story of people engagement in negotiating their demands to shape the development agenda and improve public services in Batang district, Central Java, Indonesia.
Considering most public services are provided by local government after decentralization, open government commitments considered by many will fail to reach the majority of citizens if only implemented at the national level. Then came an opportunity when the Government of Indonesia—then the OGP chair—announced during the OGP Summit in London October 2013 a mission to mainstream the OGP principles to the local level. The idea was previously tested in 3 pilot projects by the Open Government Indonesia (OGI) 2013 action plan with little progress on people participation. So we took over the idea and created our own local OGP initiative by promoting demand side of openness.
Linida officially started the implementation at the end of 2014. But it actually begun when a group of people in Batang, led by the notorious religious activist, AS Burhan, demanded their government improve transparency in budget allocation and public service provision. The response was somehow fabulous. The Bupati (regent), Yoyok Riyo Sudibyo, being committed to his anti-corruption vision in his election campaign, announced and later organized the Budget Festival, where his administration showcased to the public the local budget policy and allocations. To seize the opportunity, Burhan and his organization, Laskar Batang, were able to secure commitment from the Bupati and local parliament members by having them sign the Local Open Government declaration in front of local citizen and government officers during a ceremony. The declaration laid the foundation for further citizen participation.
How Linida works
Linida stands for Lumbung Informasi dan Inovasi Daerah, translated as Community Center on Information and Innovation. The Linida serves as a platform to gather information on village assets and opportunities to improve socio-economic lives of villagers. The Linida envisions that, in the end of their endeavor, villagers constantly use public information or even produce their own data to engage with decision makers so that the local development policy and public service provision fulfill people’s priorities and needs. The spirit of co-governance and co-creation was embodied with the willingness of the Bupati to initiate the Local Open Government initiative and support the Linida.
The creation of the Linida responds to firstly, a low level of people participation in development planning and monitoring of local budgets. It is either because of lack of awareness and capacity or the formalistic tendency of the existing state promoted-mechanism (Musrembang) where political inclusion of ordinary people and deliberation of their aspiration are quite low. Secondly, a lack of transparency of local budgets and programmes that, in turn, discouraged people participation in using government information to improve provision of public services. Thirdly, the new Villages Law that was enacted to recognize the village as a unit of legal community that is authorized to regulate and manage the interests of the local community, based on their origin and local customs. By that law, the Government of Indonesia should provide funding worth Rp 283,8 million for each village (of 72.944 total villages). As a result of these shortcomings the Linida covered 3 areas: participatory planning and local budgeting, monitoring of budget implementation through procurement and public service provision, and development of village medium term plan (RPJMN-Des).
We established groups formed by villagers themselves and trained them with skills to perform as facilitators and community organizers. The 30 facilitators were recruited from various backgrounds and ages for 10 pilot villages of several sub-districts Brokoh Wonotunggal, Denasri Kulon Batang, Pandansari Warungasem, Tombo Bandar, Pacet Reban, Kepuh Limpung, Karangtengah Subah, Kemiri Barat Subah, Sidorejo Gringsing, dan Kebumen Tersono. In each village, 3 facilitators were provided with capacity building on facilitation, participatory planning and budget literacy, access to information and social auditing.
With these newly equipped capacities, the facilitators promoted the Linida among villagers. They conducted public outreach that, in turn, enabled them to get support from the communities and heads of villages, with the exception of 1 of the 10 villages. In addition, the Linida and its facilitators are also acknowledged by the Bappeda (local Planning Bureau). After several meetings, Bappeda increased their understanding of citizen engagement and ensuring proper consultation and substantial dialogue in planning and budgeting processes. The Bappeda issued a circular letter to the village heads that guaranteed the Linida facilitators’ role to help facilitate forums during the Development Planning Meetings (Musrembang) and ensure improvement of existing mechanisms and diversify the sources of ideas
With support from the community, village heads and the local government, the Linida facilitators are confident and able to facilitate several meetings at each village and sub-district to enable the community to use public information to influence results of the multi-stage planning process of Musrembang. In most villages, the Linida facilitators act as village spokespersons to ensure community proposals are included to sub-district meetings and district meeting until its final approval in the local parliament. At the time of the writing of this article, the Musrembang result were presented to the local parliament and around 40-50% of village proposals were adopted by the executive in their Local government budget draft and submitted by the executive to the legislative. The budget draft particularly covers community demands to village development related support. For 2016 for example, the Government of Batang has allocated 250 million to support the implementation of Linida in 10 villages.
The same also applied with the Village Law implementation. The Linida’s role, in addition to facilitating, is to provide as much as information on village assets and strengths that help shape the formulation of the Village’s Medium-Term Development Planning, which is mandated by the Village Law as a condition to access village funds. A village mapping was conducted in 10 villages and subsequently the information was produced, stored and managed in the Linida database system. A so-called APIDESA application consisting of social and spacial data also has been developed to strengthen the initiative.
This community driven data was highly regarded by Bupati. For example, Pacet village is a projected tourism spot and will get 1 billon rupiahs from the local government to develop and promote its tourism. Other village like Tombo achieved a trail bike and GPS for community-based village mapping. In addition, each village received a laptop to support Linida activities.
It is only a matter of time until the Linida will begin to be involved in public service monitoring. With good a relationship with the Batang Planning Bureau, which is also the coordinator of public services quality as well as the local authority to manage public procurement, the Linida begins to function as a strong partner. It has been 3 years since the Batang government established the Public Service for Quality Improvement Unit (UPKP2) as part of a complain handling mechanism. Yet the unit is only as effective as the support it gains from the community that uses government services. The Linida helps them to generate public concern on certain service performance.
The Linida and the UPKP2 begin by conducting public outreach on the existence of the unit and public complaint mechanism at village level. From time to time the UPKP2 received complains on services. In in 2013, there were 86 citizen reports, 137 in 2014 and 86 until September 2015. The village facilitators served as a ‘bridge’ or mediator between the community and UPKP2 to jointly monitor public service provision.
Where Linida is now
In the vast literature of theory of change and development, we may say that the results will be structured and varied depending on the stage of intervention and conditions. Very often overlooking impact does not do justice to process and more technical results. So let begin with very carefully observing what kind of changes have resulted from the Linida.
Firstly, government and civil society showed an improved awareness of openness by the convergence of their interest to adopt Open Governance and OGP principles. In the case of Batang, the Linida provides solution to the regent’s vision on clean government and economic improvement through people participation, while for civil society it can improve people’s demands on openness in relation to pro-people programs/budget and improved public services.
Secondly, the community generated data and, subsequently, triggered government interest. Batang government, seeing the potential impact of Linida, has shown tremendous support, among others, by allocating core-fund for Linida implementation in those 10 pilot villages, while providing more funds and equipment for some villages. It has also made dynamic the government’s own programs to villages by organizing thematic trainings for citizens and village innovation contest, for example.
Thirdly, as the project progresses, second tier reformers have been formed. For example, the regent appointed a new Head of Bappeda as a counterpart of civil society in developing Linida. He eventually issued letter to enable Linida as co-facilitators for the Musrembang and became a strong supporter of participation in both development planning and procurement monitoring.
Fourthly, Linida has helped promotion of village and the local economy. The Linida effort was covered in local newspapers, it was the first time some villages were on the front page with positive news. The media sets up the tone for sub-national Open Governance implementation through Linida.
Fifthly, the public has a greater understanding of budget priorities and trends during Regent Yoyok’s administration the last 3 years in Batang. Local CSOs and activists produced Budget Policy analysis which shows that the budget allocations should have been better if the budget was developed with a more substantial consultation with ordinary citizens.
The initiative is just one year old. It is promising, but it’s very immature to expect more than what Linida has achieved so far. The sustainability of the initiative will depend more on how this civic space is protected, how the Linida work and facilitators are preserved and improved, and the political buy-in of the local government in the next 2 years, particularly after the local election. Transparency International Indonesia (TII) has been helping Linida in making sure the OGP can showcase and learn from country experiences, while helping people achieve their basic demands to live.
Transparency International Indonesia (TII) is a strong supporter of the OGP platform through participation as the Core Team of Open Government Indonesia, Planning Committee and Organizer of Open Government Asia-Pacific Regional Summit and CSO day, organizing Sub-national, National and Regional Outreach, while also implement our own pilot project of the Open Governance Scorecard, Local Open Government and Institutionalization of Public Participation.