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Building Agile and Competent Sub-district Government in Providing Basic Services to the People

An active role of sub-district government is the key to the inter-sectoral coordination for the provision of people empowerment related services.  Therefore, governments are required to further strengthen the role of sub-districts offices to support the implementation of basic services and supervision on village government activities. These are some of the main findings of the study on “Improving Frontline Basic Services, Initiating the Strengthening of the Roles of Sub-district and Service Unit at the Sub-district”, organized by KOMPAK in collaboration with AKATIGA Foundation and RTI International published on April 2017.

The Australian Government through KOMPAK program supports the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) to develop Technical Assistance module on “Capacity of Sub-district to Eradicate Poverty through Basic Services and Productive Economy”, as part of the GOI Frontline Strategy. It is one of the efforts to improve the competence of the sub-district head in exercising its authority in poverty reduction through basic services and productive economy. MOHA together with KOMPAK have been carrying out trials of this module in Semarang and Yogyakarta in April 2017, and attended by 31 sub-district heads from KOMPAK working area. This trial invites participants to learn inclusive and gender-sensitive transformative leadership, understanding social accountability, innovative mechanisms in problem-solving, policies and strategies for poverty alleviation.

Recognizing the significance of this module, the East Java Provincial Government decided to replicate it with funding from the provincial budget. The module was then adopted during a capacity building training program for the sub-district secretaries (sekcam) in Surabaya, 8-18 May 2017.

The training, attended by 90 sub-district secretaries in East Java Province, aimed to strengthen the human resource at the sub-district level and to encourage innovation in the provision of basic services. The initiator of this activity was the Bureau of Government Administration and Local Autonomy (APOD) together with the Center for Resource Development (BPSDM) of East Java Province. KOMPAK, in this activity, helped provide support in preparing the content of the training module and assigning facilitators from the module development team to conduct parts of the training.

Mardiana, Head of Governance, Bureau of Government Administration and Local Autonomy of East Java, said that the Government of East Java has budgeted the implementation of the technical guidance of the sub-district secretaries through Implementation Budget Document (DPA) of APOD and Education and Training Board for fiscal year 2017, and 2018.

"This is done in order to ensure the technical assistance can be implemented and integrated with the monitoring and evaluation. Therefore, the capacity building for the sub-district can be conducted continuously. In conjunction with the promulgation of Law No. 23/2014 on Local Government, the capacity building for the sub-district officials is now a prerequisite," Mardiana further explained.

In addition to integrating training with monitoring and evaluation, East Java Provincial Government is also planning to disseminate the sub-district training module to the district/city government, to assess the performance of the sub-district officers, and to encourage the dissemination of sub-district’s innovation to wider areas.

Mardiana also mentioned that the sub-district’s apparatus in East Java province would benefit from further assistance and capacity strengthening, especially in response to the delegation of partial authorities of the district head/mayor to implement the government's affairs, previously under the authority of the district/city.  

Considering that the essential role of sub-district staff in the implementation of community service provision, “East Java provincial government would like to encourage the secretary of the sub-districts to think outside the box in answering the challenges of fulfilling the basic services," said Mardiana. She confirmed the camat capacity building module developed jointly by MOHA and KOMPAK can support the strengthening of the authority to the sub-district, in addition to giving a new perspective to the front-line units of basic services.

Some of the new perspectives she referred to are, among others; agile and competent leadership, productive economic, basic services, facilitating rights-based community empowerment and innovation plan. This module complements the sub-district technical assistance material compiled by the East Java Provincial Government.

The focus of technical assistance includes: sub-district governance, guidance and supervision mechanism of village governance, budgeting planning development, strengthening of sub-district level basic services, as well as the East Java government's policy of supporting the village administration.

“This training is organized in order to ensure the integration and synergy of the two modules both developed by the provincial governments and by KOMPAK, " said Mardiana. This integration is built through the trials replication of camat capacity building module that has been implemented by MOHA and KOMPAK. East Java Government also organized the training to provide a platform for the camat secretaries to share experiences and ideas in conjunction of the diversity of regional characters of the districts under their administration.

“The training materials provided insight on how an innovation or breakthrough on basic services, no matter how small, will have significant impact towards a more prosperous Indonesia,” said Muryani, secretary of Panekan Sub-district, Magetan District, East Java. She recognized the increasingly complex challenges of the sub-district administration after the delegation of partial authorities from the district heads. On the other hand, the sub-district government is mandated to provide assistance and supervision to the village government in order to accelerate rural development, especially after the introduction of the Village Fund (DD) scheme. "The capacity building of sub-district is absolutely essential to ensure the effective implementation of duties and functions of the sub-district as public governance actor and front-line services unit”, said Muryani. Therefore, she appreciates the efforts of the East Java Government to organize the capacity building training.

"The initiative of the East Java government needs to be appreciated, supported and followed by other subnational governments," added Arry Chandra Kurnia, a member of the camat capacity building module development team. According to him, the content of this capacity building module can contribute to improve the quality and coverage of basic services and poverty alleviation in responding to the respective localized contexts.

The APOD Bureau and BPSDM are determined to replicate the approach after observing positive results from the innovation proposals developed by participants of the previous batch of camat capacity building training module trials. One of the innovations is the provision of basic service on the legal identity of persons with disabilities developed by the Tegalombo Sub-district, Pacitan. This replication is the evidence of the local government’s commitment in response to the changing challenges, paradigms and regulation of local governance.