January 1, 2006
Publication:
Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School
From 2001 to 2005, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) implemented the Perform (Performance-Orientated Regional Management) project to assist 80 district governments in Indonesia with participatory planning for multi-year district investment plans.
 
Forum Warga, a local civil society organization, was Perform's local partner in Maros district, South Sulawesi province. In 2002, Forum Warga and Perform staff began a Program of Participatory Development (PDPP) aimed at increasing villager participation in planning. In 2003, they successfully lobbied for passage of a law requiring participatory planning in Maros. As of the writing of this report, just 20 of Maros' villages (only 19 percent) have completed participatory 5-year village plans under PDPP. In some of these villages, the new planning process has indeed involved more people than did the traditional planning processes. However, in two villages visited by the team, villager awareness of and involvement in the PDPP process was nil. Even in villages where participation has increased, women's participation has still been limited, despite efforts to the contrary. And nowhere are villagers involved in budgeting.
 
One of the objectives of PDPP was to ensure that village plans influence district budget allocation. In 2004, the district planned to support just 38 percent of village proposals (calculated by Rp. amount), but in the end more than doubled its support to 67 percent of total requests. However, this was due to advocacy by Forum Warga rather than to PDPP itself. Due to the lack of data, it is impossible to say whether there has been a change in type or amount of village budget allocations over time, though in one village PDPP was confirmed to have helped secure funding for two proposals where, prior to PDPP, no village proposals had ever been funded. Despite minor successes, then, villagers are still pessimistic about their impact on district plans and budgets, and continue to lobby government officials directly as the most effective way to get funding. It is unknown how many village plans are actually being used in district planning and budgeting. Forum Warga asserts that about two-thirds of PDPP village heads are using the 5-year plans as a basis for village-level annual planning, though.
 
The financial sustainability of participatory planning in Maros is uncertain, due both to lack of data and limited financial commitments from the district, but financial hardship does not appear to be a factor. PDPP implementation has depended heavily on the involvement of the main local champion, Forum Warga, whose limitations reduce the chances of institutional sustainability. Finally, limited villager involvement in PDPP may reduce chances for social sustainability of participatory planning.
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