Fostering Genuine Participation: Lesson Learnt from Citizen Engagement in Transparency for Development (T4D) Pilot Project

Executive Summary

One of the biggest health challenges in Indonesia is maternal and newborn health. Child mortality rates in poor peri-urban areas are much higher than the urban average. A 2012 study by UNICEF found that child mortality rates are five times higher in Jabodetabek’s poor peri-urban sub-districts. As the nearest peri-urban area to Jakarta, Banten province was found to suffer from the fourth highest provincial maternal and neonatal mortality rates, whilst also suffering from a lack of health resources (Ministry of Health, 2011). Furthermore, many of the problems that led to poor maternal and neonatal health can be found at the community or infrastructural level (AIPMNH, 2011). For such issues, the application of social accountability is a potential solution for identifying problems and advocating for solutions through the citizen engagement (CDC, 1997). It is for that reason that the first Transparency for Development (T4D) pilot conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School and the Results for Development Institute, in collaboration with PATTIRO, focused on fostering community participation to develop and implement collective action to respond to MNH problems within their neighborhood.

During 6 (six) months of project implementation, there was a significant improvement in community participation in and awareness of MNH issues. Major improvements included an increase in awareness of MNH problems within the communities, which further brought out a sense of urgency to take necessary action and a shift towards considering MNH as a collective responsibility. By the conclusion of the pilot program, several villages were successful in sustaining and increasing participation. Others were not as successful, largely as a result of community activists’ (CA) lack of interest in the issue or conflict among them. Inevitably, CAs sense of volunteerism, leadership, and responsibility were characteristics that magnified project success.

Accordingly, there were four main lessons throughout the process of the T4D pilot project: 1) the need to leverage citizen engagement as a process of building community capacity, 2) need to strengthen community capacity to be able to access resources, 3) need to strengthen the social capital to enhance effective participation, 4) need to combine the ‘inward’ and ‘outward’ approach to build social accountability.

There were, however, several significant challenges beyond the T4D control, including: 1) lack of government resources and support, 2) the politics related to the heads of villages, 3) mistrust of CSOs and NGOs and 4) individual family interests brought conflicts to the program. Moreover, in terms of sustainability, the program needs to undertake more careful consideration in selecting new community

activists. Consequently, additional informal meetings and supplementary training for CAs is needed. In addition, a better recording system to monitor villages and the establishment of a new instrument to track wider territorial network is recommended, as the program will be scaled-up territorially.


This part will briefly suggest the recommendations on more technical agendas, namely stakeholder mapping, informal community meeting, and supplementary training for CAs. First, since the stakeholder mapping stage is the most significant to recruit suitable CAs to sustain the project, it should be performed more comprehensively, not only political leaders or knowledgeable citizens, but also seeking them out one by one through the cultural ‘cues’. As for that, facilitators must also understand the local wisdom within community. Second, engagement process in the first formal meeting is very crucial but it is difficult to build the engagement only by series of formal meetings. Therefore, informal meetings and intense discussion is important, not only to keep them participated but also to educate them about the MNH issues and build their capacity to organize communities more broadly. Third, discussion and meetings is not enough, supplementary training for the CAs is needed for the capacity building purpose

Improvement for Future

Accordingly, the second pilot program for T4D is in progress. For the future development, our concerns lie on two factors; first how to sustain the project in longer-run and secondly, how to scale-up and support program with additional hundred villages.

In regards to sustainability, the Cibadak village’s sustainability was doubtful even so other three villages had fifty percent possibility to continue the program. As mentioned, the first pilot concluded the importance of the community activist’s commitment and composition, more so since they affect sustainability of the project.  For the second pilot, the program needs more careful consideration in selecting new community activists. Here are few significant CA’s characters; good leadership, strong interest in MNH, easily adoptable to the program and ability to understand and translate into local context. Also these selected community activists should be better prepared in additional informal meeting with the facilitators. Further training on their leadership, public speaking, and management can help enhance the quality of program tolerance.

T4D to expand its territorial boundary, the facilitator will be responsible for two or more villages. Reasonably in expansion, the facilitator needs to understand the different local context and precise stakeholder mapping is necessary. Additionally, better recording system to monitor the villages is suggested and establishing new instrument to track wider territorial network in need.

Lesson Category Local Governance- Participation
Goal Area Public Health Service Improvement
Location Banten, Indonesia
Scope of Work Community Organizing, Capacity Building, Model Development
Authors Yunie Nurhayati R, Heidi Cho
Researchers Didik Purwandanu, Novita Anggraeni
Date Reported September 2014

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