SPARK (Strengthening Public Accountability for Results and Knowledge) is an ambitious and innovative global program to arm marginalized groups and activists with the tools necessary to engage in budget processes and affect transformational change in their lives.
In Indonesia, SPARK focuses on a national social program which offers financial, education, food and health benefits. Additionally, we work with groups of small-scale and traditional fisher people to empower them to access crucial fuel subsidies and other benefits.
Accessing social programs
Due to misallocation of resources by the central and regional government and an ineffective enrollment process, Jakarta’s urban poor face challenges in accessing the social program Family Hope Programme (PKH), which offers families cash four times a year to help with daily spending. Even though the budget for PKH rose by more than 500 percent from 2014 – 2019 (with the current budget at USD $2.4 billion), the 26 percent of poor people living under the poverty line in Jakarta have not been able to access the program.
Accessing fuel subsidies
Fuel is a vital resource in fishery production, accounting for more than 60 percent of total costs. Despite the state budget allocating IDR 3.8 trillion (USD $2.43 billion) in 2019 for subsidized fuel, many small-scale fisher people in Medan and Semarang face significant challenges in accessing the subsidy and purchasing fuel.
Family Hope Programme
SPARK aims to change the Family Hope Programme (PKH) participant enrollment process and increase access by encouraging:
- Reform of participatory enrollment in a more effective, accountable and transparent way
- A more participatory, effective and transparent verification process through village meetings
- Better budget allocations from local government to increase participant enrollment services
Additionally, SPARK will work to build the capacity of urban poor groups to engage effectively in social monitoring, policy and advocacy conversations and budget processes. This will also include supporting coordination among urban poor families, budget groups and government actors through community meetings, field audits and media campaigns.
SPARK’s main objective is to ensure that government partners implement affirmative practices in fuel subsidy delivery. We will build the capacity of small-scale fisher people to document and provide evidence of the improper distribution of subsidized fuel and propose process improvements for the fuel program. Additionally, SPARK will advocate with key government stakeholders to adopt their recommendations to improve the processes of program delivery, especially at fuel distribution points, and ensure that small and traditional fisher people are able to fully access the program.
Fisherfolk advocate for fuel subsidies and COVID relief in Indonesia
Indonesia is the world’s second-largest fisheries producer, and small-scale fisherfolk make up 95% of the sector. These fishers depend heavily on fuel, which represents 60% of their production costs. When President Joko Widodo came to power, he promised to prioritize assistance to the marine and fisheries sector and issued a plan calling for the central government to subsidize fuel for fishers. However, many small-scale fishers have not been able to benefit from this program due to weak implementation of fuel subsidy budgets by state governments and cumbersome administrative procedures.
We have helped Kesatuan Nelayan Tradisional Indonesia (KNTI) – which represents 300,000 small-scale fisherfolk – hone their budget literacy, strengthen their networks, and better influence government decisions to turn these dynamics around and gain much-needed relief for their members. As a result, in just the last two years, the union has secured access to US$95 million in COVID-19 social assistance for 1.1 million fishers and US$4.2 million in credit facilities to protect the livelihoods of fisherfolk impacted by the pandemic. Moreover, KNTI has convinced officials who oversee the implementation of the fuel subsidy program to simplify the registration process – a crucial reform that will allow 2.6 million traditional fisherfolk to access these subsidies.
Beyond these immediate gains, the government now sees KNTI as an influential player in informing fiscal policies for smallholder fisherfolk, which will allow KNTI to continue building community power over resources in the long term.
SPARK works with civil society and community organizations that have a deep community presence, an interest in learning budget work and can work collaboratively to strengthen and enhance their campaigns.
- The Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) was established in 1999 to promote the responsible management of public finances in Indonesia. Based in Jakarta, FITRA conducts budget analysis and advocacy at the national, sub-national and local levels. SEKNAS FITRA supports the two SPARK partner organizations, with a focus on advocacy strategies and analysis on policy and budgeting.
- INISIATIF was founded in 2005 to enhance the quality of life of marginalized people and has brought democracy to the grassroots level by facilitating citizens’ demands for more responsive, accountable and transparent governance. Inisiatif provides technical assistance to the two SPARK partner organizations in conducting social audits and participatory mapping of their members as well as data collection to engage government officials and other key actors.
- Kesatuan Nelayan Tradisional Indonesia (KNTI) is a community-based organization comprised of 300,000 small-scale and traditional fisherfolk. KNTI works in 25 provinces and 30 districts, with its strongest presence in the North Sumatera and West Java provinces. The group is experienced at mobilizing its members to reject illegal fishing activities and advocate for fuel subsidy and other government programs for fisher folk empowerment.
- Serikat Perjuangan Rakyat Indonesia (SPRI) is a community-based organization comprised mostly of women from urban and rural poor families. SPRI advocates for poor peoples’ right to access social protection programs, land and housing services and economic empowerment. SPRI works in six provinces, with its strongest presence in Jakarta and Lampung.