The Ruang Desa mobile app helps Indonesian villages and the central government do their jobs by connecting them quickly and inexpensively.
In March, hundreds of village officials and community facilitators in Indonesia will pilot a new, modern tool to help them do their jobs: The Ruang Desa smartphone app.
Village officials often struggle with government procurement procedures and with accurately coding for tax purposes. Many often cannot keep up to date on the latest regulations they should follow.
The app will allow village administrators to seek answers from trained facilitators, financed by the Indonesian government, on pressing issues, such as how to develop the village budget, how to engage communities in village planning and budgeting, how to report back on the use of funds.
Law Decentralizes Power in Indonesia
The Ruang Desa app, launched with the help of the Abt Associates-led KOMPAK project, will guide village administrators on how to seek answers on pressing issues, such developing the village budget, engaging communities in village planning and budgeting, and reporting the use of funds. In 2014, the Indonesian government passed the Village Law, which promotes greater decentralization of resources directly to villages so that they can determine best use of funds for improving the well-being of their citizens. Under this new law, Indonesia’s 74,754 villages each receive an annual transfer of approximately AUD $100,000. The funds are to be used to improve local infrastructure, health care, education, agriculture, and support economic development in the village.
KOMPAK is one of the Australian government’s partnership programs to support the implementation of the Village Law and decentralized services delivery. Abt Associates is implementing KOMPAK, which is focused on problems that hinder poor and vulnerable Indonesians from accessing basic services, including health care, education, legal identity – such as birth certificates – and economic opportunities.
The Ruang Desa app is a collaboration between KOMPAK, the Ministry of VIllages and Ruang Guru, a tech-based education organization which aims to provide equal access to education and improve Indonesia’s education quality and policies. KOMPAK organized the collaboration and provided funding for the app pilot.
“Our technical assistance is helping to ensure an effective implementation of the Village Law,” said Anna Winoto, KOMPAK program delivery director. “This app and other support should significantly close the information gap between government and villages on how to use the village funds to best address local priorities.”
Creating a Dialogue between Villages and Government Facilitators
The smartphone app works through a free SMS chat and phone call function and provides access to learning resources, including video tutorials, frequently asked questions about relevant regulations, and smart guide books. KOMPAK launched a web version of the app in January 2017.
Following the pilot of the app between January and June 2017, the Ministry for Villages hopes to scale up use of this application so that approximately 21,000 facilitators will be available via the app to mentor village governments nationwide and provide guidance to them in their daily jobs, which includes administering village funds.
But village officials are not the only beneficiaries of this new tool.
A central dashboard analyzing the chat history between facilitators and village officials provides the Indonesian Ministry of Villages with real-time data on the most pressing issues facing regions across Indonesia, enables them to identify village level knowledge and capacity gaps, and will assess the quality of the facilitation support provided by the ministry.
“Ruang Desa is a very good example of where we bring the public and private sector together to find solutions to real on-the-ground problems,” Winoto said.
Read more about the KOMPAK project on its web site.
#SoundGovernance is the subject for Abt’s next Bold Thinkers Series event in Washington, D.C., on March 2. Learn more about the event.