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Indonesia: Rural Infrastructure Support to the PNPM Mandiri Project

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development, Education, Health, Transport | country: Indonesia

The validation concurs with the lessons outlined in the project completion report (PCR), particularly on community empowerment. The project experiences highlighted the complex process of community empowerment, which involves some rebalancing of power between citizens and government and among community groups. Community facilitators need to be carefully selected and trained. In retrospect, the project would have benefited from more time for community dialogue and learning accompanied by systematic monitoring to ensure that (i) beneficiaries are involved in all stages of planning and implementation, and (ii) the community actually perceives their growing influence over resource and investment decisions. Participation can be further promoted using a simpler funds-flow mechanism (e.g., direct transfers to community accounts) and by facilitating both the organizational and technical aspects of the civil works. Public trust of managers and/or decision makers also needs to be built. All village administrations should publicly post information on budgets and contracts and procurement decisions. Further technical training and more community dialogue are needed to form workable operation and maintenance plans. Insufficient time or attention was given on these toward the end of the project. The project could have benefited from a longer implementation period.

On the positive side, the project reinforced growing evidence that community-driven development (CDD) approaches deliver investments that greatly impact beneficiaries in a cost-effective manner. Transparent decision making and procurement and more audits helped keep costs low. This is presumably applicable to situations where it was feasible and economical for beneficiaries to observe project activities.

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