Indonesia: Effect of training may be multiplied after ministry endorsement
New minister endorses training by NCHR partner to ensure 'game-changing' Village Law comply with human rights and involve women and indigenous people.
Developed training: Sri Palupi, member of the civil society advisory team for the Village Law, played a key role in development of the training material. She started working on the law in 2014 through trainings arranged in cooperation with NCHR (photo: A. Tømte).
Indonesia: Indonesia’s new Village Law has been hailed as a game-changer for rural areas and people as around half of Indonesia’s population, and a majority of the country’s poor, live in villages. It is a mammoth task to provide proper training to Indonesia’s more than 74,000 villages.
New minister endorses manual
The Indonesian Ministry of Villages, Underdeveloped regions and Transmigration are preparing tens of thousands so-called ‘Village Facilitators’ to train and assist villages in implementing the law. In cooperation with Ecosoc Institute and Lakpesdam NU, NCHR has developed a training manual for use at village level, in order to facilitate for a human rights-based implementation of the law.
This training manual was recently finalized, with an introduction by the new minister for villages and underdeveloped regions, Eko Putro Sandjojo. The manual will be used as reference material for all Village Facilitators. It will also be used as reference material for those providing training to the Village Facilitators.
It is expected that the material will be widely used, more than originally envisioned.
Including women and indigenous people
The Ministry itself has equally developed a training manual on the law. Ecosoc Institute (EI) gained access to a draft of this manual, which was considered to contain several weaknesses: the material was too top-down in character, with insufficient emphasis on rights and democratic participation. The ministry responded in a constructive way to most of the criticism by EI, and revised the content of the training manual accordingly, incorporating much content from the manual developed by EI, Lakpesdam NU and NCHR.
The current draft has more emphasis on rights, inclusive participation, accountability, and the involvement of women and indigenous people, compared to the previous one. This constitute an important step towards improved human rights enjoyment at village level in Indonesia.
The Village Law: Challenges ahead
It is not a given that the actual changes caused by the Village Law will be for the better. The increased funds towards villages may lead to increased corruption, growing power imbalances, capture of village assets by local elites and conflict.
The already very significant amount of money used in political campaigns to be elected village head might also increase. Historically, village administration has tended to be held accountable to higher levels of government, less so to fellow villagers.
In order to make best use of the possibilities opened up by the law, and to create accountability mechanisms to avoid misuse of authority, local political engagement and accountability mechanisms are necessary. For this to succeed, knowledge building activities, such as the ones conducted by EI and NCHR, is essential.
Indonesia's Village Law
- Around half of Indonesia's population, and the majority of the country's poor, live in villages.
- The Village Law is part of Indonesia's effort to decentralize power, initiated in 2001.
- The Law contains provisions for more inclusive and transparent government.
- It has lead to increased financial transfers to the villages, which could be used to address poverty and fulfill basic economic and social rights.
- The Law equally has a potential to strengthen human rights enjoyment, such as recognition of so-called ‘customary villages’, where indigenous people lives.
- More transparent government could help prevent corporate land grabs of village land, a serious problems on Indonesia’s ‘outer islands’.