Key findings: The National Program for Community Empowerment Mandiri (PNPM Mandiri) was launched by the Government of Indonesia in 2007. It is a national programme within the overall policy framework established to implement programmes aimed at poverty alleviation, and strengthening local governance and service delivery. PNPM adopts a community-driven development (CDD) approach, providing direct block grants to local communities at the sub-district level to finance an open menu of local development priorities. A review of evaluations of PNPM programmes highlights that PNPM Rural is contributing to improvements in poverty reduction, household welfare, access to health services resulting from better roads and bridges, and long-term employment.
General lessons learned that have emerged from the implementation of PNPM include the following.
- Target areas: programmes have had a greater effect in areas that are poor, remote and with limited infrastructure; and in areas with low health and education indicators.
- Target sectors: there is debate over whether PNPM Rural should focus on community infrastructure or promoting agricultural sector development, which may have a greater benefit to the lives of the poor.
- Target populations: PNPM has not always directly catered to the needs of the poor and marginalised groups have had limited opportunities to participate in decision-making processes.
- Social accountability: weaknesses remain despite gains achieved by PNPM.
- Village level governance: there has been little spill-over of PNPM core values into planning and implementation of other village and local government development activities.
- Facilitation: strong facilitators are essential to the governance and success of PNPM, but they are in short supply, overworked, poorly trained and lacking in support.
- Scale-up: the scale-up of programmes resulted in an increasingly mechanical implementation process, focused on administration, at the expense of effective facilitation that empowers communities and proper monitoring and evaluation.
- Financial management: the legal requirement to disburse funds within particular time-frames has led to immense time pressure, resulting in allegations of misuse being overlooked and accountability steps rushed.