An ongoing challenge for village governments is getting a better understanding of the key issues facing their communities. Having an effective system that can capture community feedback – both complaints and aspirations – will help the government to be more responsive in directing village funds to community priorities.
Since 2019, KOMPAK and SEKNAS FITRA have been piloting a community feedback mechanism, known as ‘Posko Aspirasi’ in 33 villages. The results from Tangkil village in Trenggalek district, East Java, show promising improvements.
“In each of our eight sub-villages, we set up two suggestion boxes. The village council members and sub-village officials hand out the suggestion forms and encourage community members to list their aspirations and complaints. In October, we held an ‘Aspiration Week’, where the Village Council collects community suggestions from all community members. After this, we have a village meeting to discuss and prioritise,” Explained Kasno, the Head of Tangkil Village.
“Before Posko Aspirasi, people are very quiet and not sure how to give feedback. With the suggestion boxes, they are more willing to give their ideas. We prioritise the aspirations and try to include them in the APB Desa [Village Budget]. If we can’t do it this year, then we put on list for next year.” Kasno estimates that about 30-40 percent of aspirations will be included in the plan and budget.
The community also pointed to improvements in village government responsiveness. A focus group discussion with 22 community members provided some insight into the types of projects adopted by the Tangkil Village Government. One female community member noted “It used to be very difficult to give feedback to the local government. But it’s easy now and the government is more responsive.” She provided an example of the high rate of stunting among mothers and that her and other’s suggestions has led to a program being funded to support poor mothers and children with nutritious foods.
Another participant noted that there used to be no facilities for waste management, with trash building up and being burned on the side of the street. This has now led to regular rubbish collection and removal. There are also plans to improve local economic development opportunities. Based on community feedback the village government created a communal space for the village market and plans to establish a BUMDes (village-owned enterprise).
The Posko Aspirasi approach is still in a pilot phase. In 2020 KOMPAK will undertake a more rigorous evaluation to assess the impact of the approach on influencing village priorities and improving development outcomes.