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LESSONS:

Rural Infrastructure Support Project

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

Community Mobilization. Qualified and experienced community facilitators and sufficient time for community empowerment are important to build a sound and common understanding of project principles and ensure that community members are sufficiently involved in prioritizing their needs, developing investment proposal, and making decisions. The four provinces are at different stages of development, with households in East Java having the highest standard of living and education, followed by South Sulawesi, South East Sulawesi, and East Nusa Tenggara. Less-developed communities need a longer period of socialization and capacity building to fully understand their options in selecting investment proposals that will maximize benefits. These communities need more time and assistance from facilitators or local government administrations to develop and implement village development plans. It would thus have been useful if the project had been implemented in stages, providing more time for community mobilization in less-developed districts.

Failure to Incorporate Lessons into New Projects. The appraisal report mentioned several lessons from earlier projects, but they were not incorporated into this project. These lessons include the following: (i) A fixed grant size may not be appropriate for all villages, as village size and existing infrastructure greatly differ among provinces and districts. (ii) Longer implementation with geographic phasing of activities within districts helps provide sufficient preparation and avoid the bunching of approvals for village infrastructure plans. (iii) Longer implementation provides opportunities for periodic stocktaking and improving project design.

Maintenance of Infrastructure. Greater focus should be placed on maintenance arrangements, which should be incorporated into village investment proposals and monitored by district administrations. For an investment of Rp250 million and an estimated maintenance cost of 5% annually, this would require Rp10 million/year, or Rp50,000/household/year, assuming a village average of 200 households. This collection of a maintenance fee is feasible, as this practice is widespread in domestic water-supply subprojects.

Measurable Objectives. A sound baseline survey to establish key benchmarks-including average household income, access to water supply and proper sanitation, traffic volume on existing roads, and other socioeconomic indicators-allows better qualifying and quantifying of project accomplishments. At the project completion review (PCR), a similar survey should be carried out to assess the project impact.

Governance. Greater attention should be placed on ensuring the transparent dissemination of investment plans, budgets, tenders, contracts, and financial records to help prevent fraud and corruption. Administrative and procurement procedures should be clearly explained to communities so that they will be capable of monitoring project progress. Public accountability mechanisms were not put in place in all project villages, which creates the risk of leakage and elite capture of project benefits.

Work Quality. The quality of basic infrastructure construction needs constant monitoring. Low quality of technical design of infrastructure work and lack of maintenance arrangements were observed in many villages. Additional assistance from district administrations and technical consultants and facilitators is required, especially when unskilled village labor participates in construction, to ensure a suitable standard of quality.

Consultants and Facilitators. Greater attention should be placed on recruiting qualified and experienced consultants and facilitators to ensure that they have the appropriate skills and motivation to undertake the tasks assigned to them.

Monitoring Procedures. With decentralization, the national government no longer exercises administrative control over regional governments. Likewise, provincial governments do not have administrative control over district governments. Consequently, project implementation units are under the administrative supervision of the local governments. However, for national projects, appropriate monitoring arrangements should be in place to exercise administrative and technical supervision over provincial project implementation units (PPIUs) and district project implementation units (DPIUs). Accountability relationships were, however, unclear. Thus, performance evaluation, incentives, and sanctions remain as sensitive issues that could affect smooth project implementation.

Income generation. Improved basic infrastructure does not in itself immediately translate into poverty reduction, given the narrow base of most village economies.

Lessons from Validation

Indonesia: Rural Infrastructure Support Project

The project was well designed. It adopted an effective implementation arrangement under which communities, facilitated by district-level public works services and assisted by village organizers, select and design the priority infrastructures. This promoted strong ownership among the participating communities and developed their capacities for planning and development.

This validation agrees with the lessons drawn from the project. Qualified and experienced community facilitators and sufficient time for community empowerment are important to build sound and common understanding of project principles and for effective involvement of communities in the project. There should be greater focus on maintenance arrangements, which should have been incorporated in village proposals and monitored by district administrations. Public accountability mechanisms should have been put in place in project villages to prevent possible fraud and corruption. The quality of basic infrastructures constructed should have benefited from constant monitoring.

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