Aceh, January 27, 2010 - Nearly 50% of Aceh people are below poverty line due to a long conflict taking place for almost 30 years. The Tsunami calamity that hit Aceh area in 2004 has exacerbated the economic conditions of Aceh communities. Though this figure has reduced since the signing of the Helsinki Agreement in 2007, the poverty rate of Aceh communities is now still above the national poverty rate, at 21-22%. According to the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Provincial Secretary, Husni Bahri TOB, the conditions are the background to the creation of PNPM Mandiri-BKPG (Financial Assistance for Village Prosperity Program). This program is intended to improve the community welfare by providing financial assistance of Rp 100 million for each gampong (village). He conveyed the statement in a talk show program held by PNPM Mandiri in cooperation with the News Agency of Radio KBR68H in Anjungan Mon Mata, NAD on 27 January 2010.
The talk show program with a topic of “Empowerment through PNPM Mandiri -BKPG” was also attended by three other resource persons: the Chairperson of Commission A, Aceh DPRD (local parliament), Teuku Adnan Bransah, the Head of Aceh’s Village Community Empowerment Agency, Alibasyah, and the beneficiary, Zainuddin AR. In addition to socializing this program to all Aceh communities, this activity also becomes a means of evaluating the program implementation by resource persons and discussion participants. In this occasion, the Head of Aceh’s Village Community Empowerment Agency, Alibasyah also proposed several challenges that had to be faced in implementing this program. He said, “The coverage of this program is quite high. It covers 6,379 villages, 276 sub-districts and 23 city districts. Therefore, the program will be possibly implemented if there is no adequate support from all related parties – seen from the aspects of its implementation and the control of fund distribution.”
In terms of the funding use, according to Husni Bahri TOB, the funds of BKPG can be used to develop facilities and infrastructure of rural communities and business capital. However, special for business capital, there will be a limitation, that is not more than 30% of the fund allocated. Responding to the questions asked by the audience on the fund control, Alibasyah asserted that the Aceh Government had stipulated some provisions. Since the receipt of funds by the communities, they will conduct a meeting to decide fund allocation. In addition, there will also be facilitators to assist the communities in the planning, implementation and reporting. “This control is also conducted by consultants at sub-district and district levels, and other parties, including press, DPRD (local parliament), BPKP (Development and Finance Control Agency) and BPK (Audit Agency). In the implementation of the first phase, there has been no indication of fund misuse,” Alibasyah said.
Though not all villages have successfully implemented this program, most villages in the province have managed to improve community empowerment in their areas. As expressed by the Beneficiary also acting as the Committee of Peumakmue Gampong, Lambaru Bilui, Darul Kamal Sub-district, Aceh Besar, Zainuddin AR, “The program is implemented transparently in our village – the process of fund withdrawal is very easy and open. From Rp 100 million, we allocated Rp 70 million for road construction, Rp 10 million for SPP and Rp 20 million for procurement of educational items. At present time, the ongoing program is the construction of a 200-meter road conducted and facilitated by the community of Lambaru Bilui village”.
Seeing the great benefits from the Program of PNPM Mandiri-BKPG for the Aceh community members, Teungku Adnan Bransah stated the support of DPRD for the program. “We will support the government efforts in reducing poverty rate in Aceh. Therefore, in this case, we hope that the program is sustainably implemented and evaluated. As through an evaluation, we can gauge the percentage of the program success which has been achieved. We will also know the number of villages that have been developed by the program,” said Teungku Adnan Bransah