Empowerment and Urban Poverty Alleviation in Indonesia

Senin, 20 November 2006

Oleh:Deden Rukmana (Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Savannah State University, USA)

Tulisan ini pernah dipresentasikan dalam the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Urban Affairs Association, April 13-16 2005 di Salt Lake City, Utah

Main Description

The concept of empowerment has been developed and employed in a wide array of definitions in social-science research. Zimmerman (1995) distinguishes between empowering process and empowered outcomes. The first refers to how people, organizations, and communities become empowered, and the latter refers to the consequences of those processes. The concept of empowerment is applicable for those who lacks power or those whose potential is not fully developed in improving the quality-of-life, including urban poor. This concept encourages the poor to reacquire the power and control over their own lives (Friedmann, 1992).

Indonesia with a population of over 220 million is experiencing rapid urbanization. This rapid urbanization has led to many problems. Urban development in Indonesia does not much improve the welfare of urban poor. In many Indonesian cities, poverty is becoming more visible and serious.

 

To address such issues, the government of Indonesia has implemented the Urban Poverty Program (UPP). The program applies empowerment-oriented approach. The paper examines the extent to which the concept of empowerment applying in the UPP addresses the problems of poverty in Indonesia. This question is examined through case study of communities in Indonesia that received the programs. This examination includes the empowering processes and the empowered outcomes of those programs. The comparison between the empowerment-oriented programs and conventional programs will also be discussed.

Keywords

Empowerment.

Poverty

Urban Poor.

Indonesia

Empowerment and Urban Poverty Alleviation in Indonesia

Indonesia, with a population of over 220 million, is experiencing rapid urbanization. This rapid urbanization has caused many problems in Indonesia. In many Indonesian cities, poverty is becoming more visible and serious. Severe economic crisis that hit Indonesia in mid-1997 has largely squeezed the growth of urban economy. Nearly half of the urban dwellers is vulnerable to poverty and struggles to avoid falling back into poverty (Firman, 1999).

The concept of empowerment has been developed and employed in a wide array of definitions in social-science research. I could argue that the concept of empowerment is applicable for those who lack power or those whose potential is not fully developed in improving the quality-of-life, including urban poor in Indonesia who cannot afford to buy housing. This concept encourages the poor to reacquire power and control over their own lives. It strengthens the poor’s capability to develop goals and promote their self-reliance (Friedmann, 1992).

In order to alleviate urban poverty as impact of the economic crisis, the government of Indonesia with the assistance of the World Bank implemented Urban Poverty Project (UPP). This program applies empowerment-oriented approach. UPP requires the recipient community to establish a community organization that are able to aggregate and articulate the needs of the urban poor and participate in development that enhanced local governance. This program was design to complement Social Safety Net Program that was implemented in 1998 as an emergency response to the economic crisis.

The paper examines the extent to which the concept of empowerment applying in Urban Poverty Project (UPP) addresses the problems of poverty faced by urban poor in Indonesia. This question is examined through case study of communities in Indonesia that received UPP. This examination includes the empowering processes in every stage of housing development and the empowered outcomes of housing development. The comparison between the empowerment-oriented programs and conventional programs are also discussed.

 

The Concept of Empowerment

Zimmerman (1995) posits that the concept of empowerment includes both processes and outcomes. He distinguishes between empowering process and empowered outcomes. The first refers to how people, organizations, and communities become empowered, and the latter refers to the consequences of those processes. The process of empowerment occurs on three levels –individuals, interpersonal and institutional- where people gain mastery over their affairs, acquire an ability to affect others, and develop an ability to work with others to change social institutions (Lee, 2001; Rappaport, 1987).

The concept of empowerment is a multilevel construct. It is concerned with the study of and relationships within and between levels of analysis including individuals, groups, organizations, communities and social policies (Rappaport, 1987). Gutierrez (2001) defines empowerment as “a process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals can take action to improve their life situation” (p. 210).

Gutierrez (2001) argues that there are three perspectives on empowerment. First, a macro level perspective defines empowerment as the process of increasing collective political power. Second, a micro level perspective defines empowerment as the development of an individual feeling of increased power or control without an actual change in structural arrangements. Third, an approach combining the first and second perspectives: “how individual empowerment can contribute to group empowerment and how the increase in a group’s power can enhance the functioning of its individual member” (Gutierrez, 2001: 210).

Elwood (2002) identifies three groups of similar definitions. First, empowerment is defined as constituted by distributive change, such as greater access to goods and services or a greater number of opportunities for participation in political processes. This definition conceives empowerment as outcome oriented. Second, empowerment is defined as procedural change. Empowerment is conceived to occur when social and political processes shift such that the contributions of communities are granted greater legitimacy. The knowledge and needs of the communities are incorporated in decision-making processes. Third, empowerment is defined as constituted by capacity building. It is framed as an expansion in the ability of communities to take action on their own behalf.

The goals of empowerment are diverse due to the varying definitions of the concept of empowerment. Generally speaking, the goals of empowerment are to increase personal, interpersonal or political power of individuals and to improve their quality-of-life. Referring to the definitions of empowerment identified by Elwood (2002), the goals of empowerment are fourfold: (1) to increase access of individuals to goods and services, (2) to increase opportunities of individuals for participation in political processes, (3) to increase the legitimacy and authority of citizens or individuals and to incorporate their knowledge and needs in decision-making process and (4) to build or expand the ability of citizen or individuals to take action on their own behalf.

Urban Poverty in Indonesia

Indonesia until the 1997 crisis is one of remarkable economic success, one that has captured the attention of many experts and policy makers. From a steep recession in 1965 (8 percent decline in GDP), the country’s economic development took off in the seventies, earning tremendous windfalls benefits from oil shock. This bonanza development carried over throughout the eighties and into the nineties despite the oil counter-shocks. From 1985 through 1995, the GDP rose at an average rate of 7.1%. (Jaqcuant, 1999).

Economic growth was accompanied by a reduction in the percentage of the population living under the poverty line. From level of 40% in 1976, the levels declined to the official level of 11.3% in 1996. The population living under the poverty line lives in urban area of 6.9 million and rural area of 15.7 million in 1996. Nevertheless, it is still need the hard effort to alleviate poverty in Indonesia.

In accordance with Indonesian economic growth, the percentage of urban population living under poverty line decreased significantly from 38.8% in 1976 to 9.7% in 1996. The number of urban population living under line poverty decreased from 10.0 million in 1976 to 7.2 million in 1996. However, when economic and political crisis struck Indonesia since mid 1997 the number of urban population living under line poverty in 1998 increased sharply to 22.6 million or 28.8% of total urban population as shown in Table 1.

The Indonesian urban poor population is described in term of its demographic and socioeconomic conditions. Most of the urban poor population has a low level of education, low level access to water and sanitation, and poor housing. The dwelling of the poor in urban area consists of single all-purpose rooms with no proper toilet facilities. The poor have few asset and low-income earnings. The average household size of the urban poor was 5.6 persons with 94 percent of them headed by people with no more than primary schooling (Firdausy, 1994). World Bank study stated that poverty incidence in Indonesia ranged from 1.3 percent in Jakarta, to 18 percent in West Java, to a high of 46 percent in East Nusa Tenggara, but in terms of the distribution of the poor among provinces, it is the island of Java where the most poor located (Ahuja, 1997).

The economy crisis which hit Indonesia mid-1997 resulted in major disruptions on urban development in Indonesia. Such monstrous crisis has shifted urban areas in Indonesia from “growing city” to “city of crisis”. The crisis –commonly known in Indonesia as krismon- had largely squeezed the economy of Indonesia. Domestic and foreign investment dramatically declined. Many manufacturing and services corporations closed and laid off their employees, resulting in rapid increase of open unemployment.

In order to survive amidst the krismon, a large number of workers had shifted to become food traders or engaged in other informal sector jobs. Street vendors –commonly known in Indonesia as pedagang kaki lima- increased rapidly from about 95,000 in 1997 to 270,000 in 1999 (Firman, 1999). Increasing informal labor force is a distinctive characteristic of cities in developing countries since sector formal can not accommodate the large number of labor force.

Firman (1999) argued that in the near future after the krismon, urban poverty was the most obvious issue on urban development in Jakarta. This includes job creation, basic need provision for the poor, improvement of living environment in slums areas and micro credit provision with low interest.

In order to mitigate the impact of the krismon, the government along with the assistance of IMF launched a variety of social safety net programs in July 1998. The programs include food security, employment creation, scholarship to students and block grants to schools, targeted health care subsidies, and community block grant (Sumarto, et. al., 2004). Political and economic reforms were also implemented during the recovery process.

Table 1: Number of Urban Population in Indonesia below the Poverty Line

 

Year NUPLUPL NUP Percentage

(million) (million)

1976 10,0 25,8 3 8,8

1978 8,3 26,9 30,8

1980 9,5 32,8 29,0

1981 9,3 33,1 28,1

1984 9,3 40,3 23,1

1987 9,7 48,3 20,1

1990 9,4 56,0 16,8

1993 8,7 64,9 13,4

1996 7,2 74,2 9,7

1998 22,6 78,5 28,8

2003 10,7 92,4 11,6

 

NUPLUPL =Number of Urban Population Living under Poverty Line

NUP = Number of Urban Population

Source: BPS, 2004

Urban Poverty Project (UPP)

The urban poverty project (UPP), also known in Indonesia as Proyek Pengentasan Kemiskinan Perkotaan (P2KP), is a program to alleviate urban poverty as impact of the economic crisis that transfers resources directly to the poor to provide social, financial and physical services at the community level. This program enables communities to determine their own priorities by providing resources directly to them. UPP also builds community organizations that are able to aggregate and articulate the needs of the urban poor and participate in development that enhanced local governance.

UPP requires communities (kelurahan) to form an elected governance system as administrator of the project funds. Each participating kelurahan has access to a one-time allocation of grant funds according to the size of the population, ranging from US$ 15,000 for kelurahan with less than 3,000 people, to US$50,000 to kelurahan with greater than 10,000 people.

The elected governance system, known as Badan Keswadayaan Masyarakat (BKM) consists of community leaders and representatives of the community groups. The formation of the BKM is a way to build community capacity that is accountable to communities.

With the assistance of facilitators specifically designed to empower the communities, the BKM discusses the nature of poverty in their community, how it should be addressed, and what is required to combat the poverty. Facilitators also help the BKM to formulate a poverty oriented Community Development Plan (CDP) for the kelurahan. The CDP can include a range of activities such as providing microcredit to local entrepreneurs, building physical infrastructure and improving human resources through training. The formulation of the CDP by the BKM is a way to increase the voice of the poor in decision making.

In addition to the BKM, the community formed local entrepreneurs, also known as Kelompok Swadaya Masyarakat (KSM). The KSM is a self-sustaining community group which receives funds as directed by the CDP. Each member of the KSM who received fund had to pay interest. The microcredit loans for the KSM forms the basis of a revolving fund.

As noted earlier, UPP was designed to complement Social Safety Net Program, commonly known in Indonesia as Jaring Pengaman Sosial (JPS). JPS was an emergency response to support the most seriously affected groups by the impacts of the economic crisis. This program is not empowerment-approach program and also developed to stop social unrest.

There are four components in the JPS including food security in order to establish the distribution of essential goods, employment creation through labor-intensive programs, small and medium enterprise development in order to stimulate local economies, and social protection in health and education by increasing expenditures in these two sectors.

Case Studies

This paper attempts to examine the extent to which the concept of empowerment as found in UPP addresses the problem of poverty in Indonesia. This question is examined through a case study of community that implemented UPP. The case study of UPP is Tarikolot which is located in Bogor Regency, one of suburbans of Jakarta.

Tarikolot

Tarikolot is a desa (village) in Bogor Regency, one of suburbs of Metropolitan Jakarta. The Urban Poverty Project started in January 2003 with various preparation steps as long as a year. This preparation steps include Refleksi Kemiskinan (reflection on poverty), Pemetaan Swadaya (self-supporting mapping) and the formation of BKM.

Refleksi Kemiskinan is a step in which the community along with the facilitators define the meaning of poverty and identify the causes of poverty in the community. This step is also to build the awareness of the recipient community on poverty. The next step is Pemetaan Swadaya (self-supporting mapping) for clarifying the findings from reflection on poverty. In this step, the community attempts to identify the profile of poor households, the typology of poverty, the need of institution and the leadership criteria.

The formation of BKM is the subsequent step after the self-supporting mapping. The recipient community forms BKM through democratic process. They select the officers of BKM through a voting process. The BKM of Tarikolot consists of eleven people, nine male and two female. Most of them are low-income residents. Their occupations include civic servants, house makers, public transport driver, and traders. Then, the BKM of Tarikolot decides how it will use funds from UPP. They used the funds for providing microcredit to local entrepreneur and constructing physical infrastructure.

Empowerment and Urban Poor

The empowerment-oriented approach as implemented in UPP enables community to determine their own priorities by providing resources directly to them and increases the voice of the poor in public decision making. Assisted by the facilitators, the communities that received UPP were able to enhance their capacity to solve their problems with the resources they received from UPP. Ultimately, they can improve their quality-of-life by their own decision on the use of the resources from UPP. The following section will elaborate further on the empowerment approach on the case study of UPP.

Community-based Organizations

UPP requires the recipients to form a community-based organization (BKM) to administer the program. The case studies of UPP show the importance of BKM in enabling the community to participate actively in the program. BKM is a collective action of the recipient community to alleviate poverty. The formation of BKM encouraged the community to better identify and collect their resources to combat poverty in their community.

BKM is managed by community volunteers who have been elected through voting process by local residents. Applying participatory planning process, BKM decides how it will use funds from UPP. The decision on the use the funds are completely on the hand of BKM. BKM selects appropriate projects and identify beneficiaries. BKM determine whether the funds are used to provide microcredit to local entrepreneur, construct physical infrastructure or training.

The case clearly demonstrates that the network among the urban poor in the organization is a key element in the empowerment concept. The collective nature of this organization is natural way for the urban poor to gain power. This organization focused the potential of the urban poor and improved their political and economic bargaining power. The process of networking among the urban poor in this cooperative is one of the empowering processes of the program.

Facilitator or Development Consultant

In UPP, there are facilitators who assist the community in every steps of the program. The facilitator helps the community since the beginning of the program. They assist the community in defining the meaning of poverty and identifying the causes of poverty in the recipient community. This step is commonly known as Refleksi Kemiskinan (reflection on poverty). This step is of importance to build the awareness of the recipient community on poverty. The facilitators enable the recipient community to better understand their need of poverty alleviation.

The next step is Pemetaan Swadaya (self-supporting mapping) that aims to clarify the findings from reflection on poverty. The facilitators help the recipient community to identify the profile of poor households, the typology of poverty, the need of institution and the leadership criteria.

The formation of BKM is the subsequent step after the self-supporting mapping. The facilitators assist the recipient community to form BKM through democratic process. The facilitators invite as many members of community as possible to participate in the formation of BKM. The officers of BKM were elected through a voting process by the members of community not by appointment. After the formation of BKM, facilitators provide technical and supporting assistance to BKM in administering the program.

The development consultant plays a very important role in empowering the urban poor. What development consultants do in assisting, partnering, or mediating the urban poor will affect the empowering process and the empowered outcomes of the program. The skill, the time, the determination, the knowledge, the attention of the consultant will determine significantly the process and outcome of the program. Most importantly, the development consultant should side with the urban poor not with other parties. Otherwise, the urban poor will never get empowered.

Financing

The main component of UPP is direct fund for the poor to alleviate poverty. The recipient community through BKM determine the use of this fund. Most BKMs invests most of the funds in providing microcredit for local entrepreneurs, also knows as Kelompok Swadaya Masyarakat. The fund assigned for local entrepreneur is a basis for revolving fund in the recipient community.

The amount of the fund varies by the size of the community population. It ranges from US$ 15,000 for kelurahan with less than 3,000 people, to US$50,000 to kelurahan with greater than 10,000 people. This amount is certainly not enough to alleviate the poverty completely. This fund is just considered as stimulus for the recipient community to get more motivated creating economy activities in the community.

This innovative revolving fund should be considered as an implementation of de Soto’s finding of Dead Capital. De Soto said that all people are capable of saving, what the poor are missing are the legally integrated property systems that can convert their work and saving into capital (de Soto, 2000). The revolved fund is a form of saving for the urban poor. This fund could be converted to generate capital.

Without this revolving fund, the urban poor could not convert their dead capital -in form of their willingness- to generate capital to alleviate their poverty. Conversion of the dead capital will not be achieved easily by the urban poor, who are faced with the problems of high risk and illegitimacy, in the view of lenders. In the revolving fund scheme, these problems are not available, because the lender –in this case is the Government of Indonesia (GOI)- considers the urban poor to be of lowered risk and raised legitimacy. It is obvious that the financing through the revolving fund is very important in empowering the urban poor. Otherwise, it is hard to empower the urban poor to alleviate their poverty.

Urban Poor Participation

It is clear that the participation of urban poor in UPP is of significance in alleviating poverty at the community level. The recipient community plays an important role in directing the program. The participation of community in selecting the leaders of BKM is of importance to get credible leaders. This participation enhances the democratic process in forming BKM.

An active participation of community is also required to build strong local entrepreneurs in the community. The more local entrepreneurs in the community will create more economy activities in the community. Ultimately, the revolving fund from economy activities run by the local entrepreneur will significantly alleviate the poverty in the community.

The active participation of the urban poor in the program can be considered as empowering process and the reduced poverty level of the community is an empowered outcome. When the urban poor are participating in the program, their self-esteem, confidence, self-determination, and skill are likely to be improved. Such improvements should be also considered as an empowered outcome.

 

Conclusion

The Urban Poverty Project (UPP) aims at alleviating poverty by transferring resources directly to the poor. The resources in form of the direct fund and the empowerment-oriented approach in UPP lead the poor become more powerful to alleviate poverty in their community. The assistance of facilitators also contributes to the empowerment process in every steps of the program. The facilitator should side with the poor. They should involve in all stages of the project not in directing but assisting the poor.

The implementation of UPP demonstrates that the urban poor need greater access to funding resources, good and services. The urban poor need greater number of opportunities for participation in decision making process. Knowledge and needs of the urban poor must be incorporated in the urban poverty alleviation. The urban poor need to acquire the power and control over their own lives.

In sum, the empowerment-oriented program such as UPP results in the empowering processes and the empowered outcomes at individual and group level of the urban poor. The UPP empowers the urban poor so that they will be able to create entrepreneurship and purchase housing respectively. Ultimately, these empowered-oriented programs will improve the quality-of-life of the urban poor.

Reference:

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Asosiasi Permukiman Kooperatif (Aspek). 1997. Penelitian Evaluasi Program Pembangunan Perumahan Bertumpu pada Kelompok (P2BPK)., Bandung: Aspek.

BPS (Indonesian Central Bureau Statistics). 2004. Statistical Yearbook of Indonesia. Jakarta: BPS.

de Soto, H. 2000. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. New York: Basic Books.

Elwood, Sarah A. 2002. GIS Use in Community Planning: A Multidimensional Analysis of Empowerment. Environment and Planning A 34: 905-922.

Firdausy, Carunia Mulya. 1994. Urban Poverty in Indonesia: Trends, Issues and Policies. Asian Development Review 12(1) . Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Firman, Tommy. 1999. From “global city” to “city of crisis”: Jakarta Metropolitan Region under economic turmoil. Habitat International 23(4): 447-466.

Friedmann, John. 1992. Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development. Cambridge: Blackwell.

Gutierrez, L.M. 2001. Working with women of color: An empowerment perspective. Rothman, J., Erlich, J.L., and Troyman, J.E. (Eds.). In Strategies of Community Intervention. Itasca: F.E. Peacock Publisher, Inc.

Hoek-Smit, Marja. 1997. Indonesia: Alternative Approaches to Low and Middle-Income Housing Finance for Indonesia. A paper prepared for The National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Jakarta.

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Rappaport, J. 1987. Terms of empowerment/exemplar of prevention: Toward a theory of community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology 15(2): 121-148

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26 Responses to “Empowerment and Urban Poverty Alleviation in Indonesia”

  1. Muhamad Ridwan Says:

    Assalamu’alaikum Wr. Wb.

    Apa kabar Pak Deden Rukmana? Saya M.Ridwan abggota BKM Tarikolot. Saya baru pulang bertugas dari Aceh sebagai Fasilitator P2KP di Aceh. Pak Deden bagaimana sih caranya bisa bersekolah di Amerika? Saya ingin sekali sekolah di Luar Negeri. Terima Kasih

    Muhamad Ridwan
    (021)87940505 HP. 081360015629

  2. antoniodesk2010@gmail.com Says:

    Hello P. Deden,

    Wah, hebatt betulll . Bagus sekali tulisan dan photo nya.

    Kalo ada photo photo yang bisa saya pinjam , ok? boleh? ya, sperti biasa for the struggle dan not for profit. Nanti saya tulis nama P. Deden.

    Salam,

    Antonio
    Bali


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