How does the government of Indonesia make its presence felt by all 250 million citizens across the sprawling archipelago?
While decentralization provides district governments the authority to address local needs, effective execution of these functions relies heavily on the capacity of the local governments to analyze service gaps and drive more coordinated efforts to address them, as well as the capacity of communities to voice their needs, provide feedback and be part of the solution.
To address this, the Medium-Term National Development Plan 2015-19 includes a new policy to improve basic services for the poor and vulnerable. The approach focuses on enhancing interactions at the front line between government, service providers and citizens, as well as their collective ability to diagnose and solve service delivery bottlenecks at the community level.
A multidisciplinary team from 8 sectors conducted a series of field visits between September 2014 and January 2015, with a mission to identify local innovation and best practices for improving services for the poor and vulnerable. Using a PDIA approach, they engaged with a broad set of stakeholders, had enriching interactions, and were able to view the same problem from different angles. Vignettes from their field visits are captured in Catalyzing local innovation to improve services for Indonesia’s Poor. Some of the lessons they learned include:
- Focus on fostering experimentation and learning at the local level , rather than fixating on sluggish reforms at the central level.
- One size does not fit all. Instead of prescribing a set menu of interventions to improve service delivery, the approach should be to create a supportive policy and institutional environment that fosters innovation.
- The locus of innovation also matters. The closer the innovation occurs to the community, the more potential for catalytic change.
- Diffusion can happen organically but knowledge sharing and creating communities of practice can help the expansion of innovative ideas.
Watch Anna Winoto from the National Development Planning Ministry in Indonesia discuss the frontline service delivery policy at the Doing Development Differently Philippines workshop. The challenge in this work is to facilitate district governments to innovate, which requires multi-disciplinary district teams who can solve problems together, access flexible financing, leadership and change management, and diagnostic tools to allow for rapid feedback.