The gampong apparatus insufficient capacity is no longer a concern for the Bireuen District in Aceh, thanks to the establishment of Gampong Clinic. The initiative taken by the district and sub-district governments with the KOMPAK support has helped local apparatus improve their ability and enable local communities to enjoy optimal village governance.
Since she began working at the Simpang Mamplam Sub-district office in the Bireuen District of Aceh in 2017, Lindayani has felt restless. The Gampong (a village in Acehnese) Community Empowerment (Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Gampong/PMG) staff was tasked with innumerable duties directly related to the village's communities, village apparatus, village cadres, and women's institutional activities. At the time, the gampong apparatus was barely able to control village management regulations, policies, and other technicalities, such as village financial planning.
"The distance between the gampongs and the district government centre made it challenging for village apparatus to coordinate and consult with the district government," said Lindayani. Consequently, the district government's supervision over the gampong apparatus became less than ideal.
Planning and budgeting were often irrelevant to the gampong needs. Likewise, the accountability report for the Gampong Revenue and Expenditure Budget (Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja/APB) and financial management tended to fall short of the standards and were prone to manipulation.
Lindayani's concerns were answered when the district and sub-district governments launched the Gampong Clinic program as part of the Gampong Apparatus Capacity Development (Pengembangan Kapasitas Aparatur Gampong/PKAG) program, supported by KOMPAK. The Gampong Clinic is a capacity building program for gampong governments. The program involves training and mentorship, coordination, consultation, and information-sharing, especially in planning and budgeting for the gampong funds.
Gampong Clinic consists of gampong-level Village Apparatus Independent Learning (Pembelajaran Mandiri Aparatur Desa/PbMAD) program, sub-district apparatus capacity strengthening, and district-level technical briefings such as program socialization and general policy orientation.
The districts, sub-districts, and Gampong Community Development and Empowerment Program (P3MG) facilitators have been fully involved in developing the Gampong Clinic work program. KOMPAK provided institutional and human-resource capacity-building in the form of training, technical assistance, guidelines, and modules for the Gampong Clinic managers.
After the concept had been formulated, the Gampong Clinic was established in the sub-districts where KOMPAK was active. One of which was in Simpang Mamplam. Lindayani became the Gampong Governance Facilitator (Pembina Teknis Pemerintah Gampong/PTPG) who ran the Gampong Clinic program in her sub-district.
Sub-district apparatus, professional assistance providers, and cross-sectoral sub-district service units attend the Gampong Clinic twice yearly, with 50 to 60 participants per gampong.
"Small sub-district-level meetings are held to resolve the gampong government problems and form sub-district technical teams. The teams then provide services at the clinic and visit the gampongs for policy socialisation and technical assistance in village planning and development," Lindayani explained.
PTPG training participant, Mursyidi, SH (Bachelor of Law), was at the time a Simpang Mamplam office staff. "We learned about gampong administration and specifically gampong planning and development," said the man who later served as a sub-district head.
"We learned about gampong administration and specifically gampong planning and development," explained Head of Samalanga Sub-district, Mursyidi, SH (Bachelor of Law) about PTPG training which he joined previously when he was still serving as a Simpang Mamplam Sub-district staff.
The Gampong Clinic implementation was not always smooth sailing. Most PTPG team members have other routines and obligations. "The limited capacities of PTPG, technical personnel, financing, and accommodation pose their challenges," said Lindayani, who was the Head of the General Affairs and Personnel Sub-division of the Simpang Mamplam Sub-district Office.
However, Lindayani overcame the capacity shortfall by collaborating with the Professional Development Credit Unit (Satuan Kredit Pengembangan Keprofesian/SKPK), using professional assistance providers, and utilising gampong funds through PbMAD. Accordingly, many village-government activities can be completed quickly and systematically.
"Cross-sector activities in gampong and sub-districts become better coordinated. The latest information and regulations are delivered timely. Implementation of gampong authority is now more synergized between apparatus," said Mursyidi.
"The Gampong Clinic approach has enabled us to resolve scores of issues, especially in recruiting gampong apparatus, filling the positions in the gampong institution, settling the gampong boundaries, and resolving disputes arising from miscommunications between the keuchik (gampong head) and the Gampong Council (BPG)," added the 44-year-old sub-district head.
These are benefits immediately felt by the local communities. Wardiana, a community leader in the Keude Tambo Gampong, said that the Gampong Clinic played a central role in the gampong development, especially in enhancing the gampong apparatus capacity and improving the local governance.
"All these have had major effects on the gampong. We can work out heaps of issues, and one of which is to fulfil the gampong administration requirements," said Wardiana, who was an honorary school-teacher.
Administration matters primarily include reporting and accountability systems for funds disbursed to the gampongs. The Gampong Clinic assists the gampong apparatus in the financial administration of the funds.
This 55-year-old man did not fully appreciate the purpose of establishing the Gampong Clinic at first. But over time, he witnessed how the clinic had positively affected the gampong development. Wardiana also saw how administrative officers played a considerably more active role in addressing issues arising in the gampong.
Now, four sub-districts in the Bireuen District have established the Gampong Clinic Service and Operational Standards. Mursyidi, who took up the position of the Head of the Samalanga Sub-district in 2020, established, and developed the Peutah Gampong Clinic in the sub-district.
The Aceh Provincial Government has formulated a governor regulation on fostering and supervising the gampong governance implementation to ensure the Gampong Clinic sustainability. The provincial government has also prepared funds for the 2021 fiscal year to optimise the sub-district's role in the gampong development.
In 2021 ago, the provincial government specifically prepared funds to optimise the sub-district's role for the gampong development.
At the district level, the Bireun District Government has consistently been a strong supporter of the initiative. The district government has formed an Integrated PKAG Coordination Team tasked with planning and evaluating the integrated PKAG implementation in the budget, capacity building, and administration.
The gampong residents have expressed their hopes for the Gampong Clinic program to continue. "So that the gampong apparatus can form stronger relations, and, hence, the gampong's needs can be met appropriately," said Wardiana, sharing his hope, which was also the aspiration of all Bireuen residents.