Participation and information are the main forces in village development. But so far the quality of participation, availability and the level of accuracy of the information tend to be a fundamental weakness that is always inherent in the process of village development.
Conceptually, participation is an “old discourse” in the process of village development. This concept emerged around the 1970s as a critique of top-down approach to development that had marginalized the role of the community and reaped more failures than successes.
In the meantime, Robert Chambers, an activist and academic from the University of Sussex, England, with some of his colleagues began developing the concept of development that positioned village community as a key actor.
Conceptually, the spirit of participation in Chambers and his colleagues thought is a passion to organize and involve village communities in policy making and program for themselves and their groups.
In this core concept, the villagers positioned as disadvantaged groups are dominated by the poor who are the majority in the village, or other designations are the silent majority. In simple terms, this concept was about the poor people as the main actors of village development.
In the early decades of the development of the concept of participation, the perspective on society is still relevant. But, looking at contemporary trends, particularly in Indonesia, this view no longer seems relevant. Growing facts and data say that the silent majority is already classified into several groups with different characteristics and needs. I call the specified group “the silent minority”.
Based on the classification by Program Peduli of Ministry of Human Development and Cultural Affairs (KEMENKO PMK), the silent minority group is divided into four groups, namely disabilities, victims of serious human rights violations, remote indigenous communities and religious minorities and local beliefs.
Ministry of Social Affairs notes that in 2011 approximately 11,500 residents of Indonesia were in a state of disability. While the remote indigenous community made up approximately 229 thousand households spread over 246 districts, 852 sub-districts, 2000 villages and 2650 locations from Sabang to Merauke. Furthermore, Kontras (An NGO concerned on kidnapped people violence victims) said that the victims of serious human rights violations from 1960 up to now are roughly 10,000 with a note that victims of human rights violations in East Timor are not counted.
It is relatively laborious to find the latest data on the number and distribution of religious groups and minorities. But, glancing at the report by Human Rights Watch in 2010, it said that the Indonesian government has failed to protect the religious freedom of minorities and beliefs. One important indicator of the assessment is the increasing cases of violations on religious freedom in the last few years.
The series of data on silent minority groups indirectly shows us that this group is also supposed to really get spaces and could be involved in village development. They need policies and programs that truly suit their needs and situations. They should be fully taken into account in every process of village development.
In the context of village development, the quality of participation will affect the preparation of the program and the funds needed to implement the program. At this point, the data and information on the sources and financial terms for the implementation of village development programs become crucial.
In contrast, paying attention to the practices, apparently the need of information and accurate data has not been fully fulfilled. Indications of this can be seen in documents of village development that tend to be nothing more than merely a shopping list.
If examined more thoroughly, actually this trend emerges in anticipation of ignorance, uncertainty and delay in identifying the source and the type of budget that can be used for village development.
This particular method is in fact commonly used by many people to anticipate unwanted events. Many people call it “politic of throwing nets”. Under conditions of poor data and information pragmatically this way is more logical and easy to understand.
Basically, Village Act (UU Desa) has tried to address the problem of availability of adequate information, including the availability of funds with mandating local governments to develop the Village Information System (Sistem Informasi Desa [SID]). However, until present, the central government has not yet compiled a specific regulation to regarding the SID.
In a broader context, the publication of some ministerial regulations, such as Regulation 114 of 2014, Permendesa No. 2 and No. 3 of 2015 dealing with the village will not likely give significant domino effect if not followed up by specific rules concerning the issuance of the SID.
Advocating the widest possible public participation and ensuring the government to carry out its duties of providing data and quality information should be the main mission for all stake holders involved in developing villages without exception.
When all the community can participate and when the information and data available quickly and the actual quality of village development success has been truly was in sight.