Mini Atlases also Work for Mid-term Community Planning

By Ahmad Rifai

In the beginning of August 2010, I was invited by the Local Committee for Poverty Alleviation (TKPKD) to a meeting about eradicating poverty in Solo City. The committee is established under a national regulation (Permendagri No 42/2010) to maintain coordination among stakeholders in the city relating to poverty alleviation projects. In the mean time, the committee is lead by the vice mayor of Surakarta and consists of four working groups: 1) Research, development, and data information; 2) community-based poverty alleviation projects; 3) micro and small scale economic empowerment; and 4) household social assistance and aid. Representing Solo Kota Kita, I am involved in the first working group.

The TKPKD has a main mandate to establish a local strategy for poverty alleviation which is coordinated with poverty alleviation throughout the city. At the same time, the TKPKD has to prepare neighborhoods to have five year plans that can adapt as the strategy is implemented.

Three weeks later after joining the committee, I was informed by the secretariat of TKPKD that there will be a meeting in SKK office to discuss initiatives to prepare mid-term plans certain neighborhoods. The meeting aimed at designing a pilot methodology in Serengan or Sudiroprajan for mid-term planning called Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Kelurahan (RPJMKel). Solo Kota Kita was responsible for providing assistance during community meeting to create this pilot.

In my opinion, the mini atlas can be very useful to guide the meeting since it tries to generate identification of issues, assets, and intervention in the neighborhood. We agreed upon having the pilot in Sudiroprajan, so the mini atlas is to be a tool to better inform the discussion process. I was amazed: people from the RW in Sudiropajan can acknowledged their problems by looking at the maps and statistics in the mini atlas. For example, in RW 4, people talked about the number of kids out of school, and then they decided that they really need a community library where their kids could also read and become more aware of good education.

My friends Jack and Ian said to me after discussion in RW 4, “This is such a good start. We haven’t seen how mini atlases work in musrenbang, the annual neighborhood meetings, but we have seen how it works in this RPJMKel pilot meeting.” I concluded optimistically that “this is gonna work too in musrenbang.”

Early November, the team evaluated the discussion process in the RWs throughout Sudiroprajan. Generally in poor areas like Sudiroprajan, information can help people identify specific issues in their RW and the locations in their neighborhood that have more problems than others. In RW 9 for example, which doesn’t have residents since it is an economic center, people discussed issues there that relate to everyone in the neighborhood. By the end of December, the aggregated issues from each RWs will be presented to neighborhood residents and discussed again. Elected representatives from each RW will go the neighborhood hall and they will discuss issues together, prioritize them, and decide the five year plan for their neighborhood.

From this pilot, the city will prepare city-wide initiatives to promote the importance of RPJMKel for better neighborhood planning. Many stakeholders will benefit from RPJMKel, such as the World Bank program PNPM, which is able to coordinate their projects with neighborhood planning. Government can also better prioritize the city projects, NGOs can adapt neighborhood plans to specific needs, and the national government can focus their resources on poverty reduction.

Solo Kota Kita, of course, will play an important role by providing tools and information in assisting the discussion. Maps, statistics, and other information provided in the mini atlases as well as on the website will become core instrument to make planning better and bring the initiatives of RPJMKel into reality.

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