What is Musrenbang?

The word musrenbang is an abbreviation of two words in Bahasa Indonesia. It combines musyawarah – “community discussion” – with perencanaan pembangunan – “development planning.” The origin of musyawarah is an Arabic word describing how neighbors come together to peacefully resolve conflicts and discuss community issues. Musrenbangtherefore refers to the process of community discussion about local development needs.

Musrenbang is an annual process during which residents meet together to discuss the issues facing their communities and decide upon priorities for short-term improvements. Once a list of priorities is made, it is submitted to the local government planning department, Bappeda, which will then assign resources to each neighborhood depending upon the available funds and according to need. The musrenbang meetings occur in the community centers in every neighborhood during January.

This participatory budgeting process makes it possible for residents to articulate their needs to local government. There are also musrenbang processes at the district and city levels as well as at provincial and national levels. Musrenbang is a bottom-up approach, which means resident voices can actively influence the city budget and how investments are made in neighborhoods.

In fact, the musrenbang process was introduced to replace Indonesia’s former centralized and top-down government system. Local communities and governments now have a greater responsibility to shape the future of their neighborhoods. Residents should participate because it is an opportunity to collectively decide the future and assure that government investment in neighborhoods meets community development needs.