Thursday, 28th November 2019, with FORMASI (Forum Masyarakat Sipil) Kebumen, AKATIGA discussed “Policy Advocacy Strategy: Natural/Land Resources, Agriculture, Youth Employment Opportunities in Rural Areas”. The discussion was held in FORMASI’s quarter, Lingkar Selatan street, No. Km. 4, Pakeyongan, Podoluhur, Klirong, Kebumen.

It was attended by village officials and some young people representatives from Bonorowo, Sinungrejo, Podoluhur, Sidomulyo, Kritig, and Kalibeji village, also Rajif Dwi Angga from IRE (Institute for Research and Empowerment) Yogyakarta, and Agus Nahrowi from CSE (Centre of Social Excellence) Indonesia. This discussion was set to share perspectives over advocacy in encouraging the management of village treasury land (Tanah Kas Desa) so that it is accessible to the poor and young people.

As the opening discussion, Yusuf Murtiono from FORMASI explained that the function of village treasury land is to ensure the welfare of the villagers. Because of that FORMASI tried to push the reformation of village prosperity/treasury land so it can be accessed by the poor who have no land.

The rent from the village treasury land auction always becoming the village original income (Pendapatan Asli Desa/PADes) which is needed for the village operations. But after the existence of the Allocation of Village fund (Alokasi Dana Desa/ADD), and Village Fund (Dana Desa/DD), the village government should be able to cut off the dependency on yields from village treasury land. The thing that has to be understood is, the poor access to the village treasury land which also be the real form to improved the livelihoods and maintain the food security in the village.

Nofalia from AKATIGA added about how the access to village treasury land also can be allocated for young people. A research from AKATIGA found the fact that young people in this era still get many obstacles when it comes to agriculture, those are the difficult access to land and the lack of knowledge about how to do innovative farming that can give a good result. In this case, within the land allocation for young people, it can be their chance to get involved in agricultural employment.

From the initiative that was pushed by FORMASI, there have been several villages in Kebumen that gave access for village land to the poor and young people. One of them is Sidomulyo village in the Petanahan sub-district. Since 2010, Sidomulyo village started that system. The benefits have been felt with the villagers and also the village government.

Hopefully, this best practice can be transmitted to the other villages in Kebumen. So a written reference (regulation) about managing village treasury land with best practices like in Sidomulyo is needed to be made, with expectations it can be used as a guideline in the other villages in Kebumen.

Principles and Strategies for Policy Advocacy

Regarding the advocacy that will be applied, Rajif from IRE and Gusrowi from CSE shared their experiences and knowledge so that it can be a lesson for village treasury land management advocacy in Kebumen.

Rajif told that in IRE experiences, the policy advocacy process began with formulating one issue. It started with mapping the case that should be seen as a whole issue, even it is from existing policies (eg. RPJMN in doing village law), or phenomenon that has not been accommodated in the policy.

The next step is to place the intended problem, and study the facts on the micro-level, compare between the hopes and the facts. After that, build the formulation for a more appropriate policy proposal. Next is the policy communication, deliver to the related stakeholders about what should be done in reforming the policy. And collaborate with the stakeholders to guide the entry process of proposals as the government policy.

On the other side, Gusrowi from CSE explained some important principles by following the public policy advocacy process. He started the explanation by emphasizing the meaning of advocacy. According to Gusrowi, advocacy is a companion process. Defend what belongs to the citizens, that thing is the principle of advocacy. Gusrowi emphasized, when we do an advocacy for public policy, it is important to underline empathy, which is a sympathy that is followed by action. We have to think about the good and the bad impacts that will appear and who will be affected.

The parties who get involved has to know about that thing, especially for those who get bad impacts. If there is rejection in that process, don’t see it as a dead-end or must be the opposite. Don’t only look at it by the surface which looks different, but we have to explore it to each depth so that we can see at the point where the interests can meet. That is the key to make the parties can collaborate.

The Villages’ Representatives Responds

When the forum discussion was opened, the response from the villages’ representative was quite diverse and interesting. There was one who stated the doubt and tendency to disagree. Basyuni, the village official’s from Bonorowo, explained that he saw the governance of village treasury land is interesting, but for now, he preferred to learn about the benefits when it is applied to the other villages. Nevertheless, he hoped that there will be a clear and directed guideline. Such as district-level regulations.

Meanwhile, Kukuh, representative of Sinungrejo village officials, revealed that his village was not yet interested in the idea of village treasury land for youth. Aside from the reasons the village youth prefer to work overseas, according to Kukuh, at this time the village government’s need for income from village treasury land rent is still high.

On the other side, positive responses and support also emerge from the villages’ representatives. Ruslin, the village official’s from Sidomulyo Village told that they have given treasury land access to poor people with the rolling-auction system. And also has given access for young people by Karang Taruna field allocation.

Asrodin, the village head of Podoluhur saw this initiative as a good chance to rearrange the treasury land in their village so that there will be more chance for young people. It was supported by BPD that will arrange the rule for village treasury land.

The next is Agus, an official village from Kalibeji who stated that even the way is kind of different, but these proposals also accorded to the vision and mission of Kalibeji’s government. The government of Kalibeji is doing a trial for diversification of agricultural commodities, it is planting Pare (Momordica Charantia) or Bitter Melon fruit in the Tanah Bengkok of the village head. Furthermore, another Pare farm will be expanded with involving young people’s group as the farmer partner.

Related to the village treasury land, Agus saw that there are still opportunities for the future although it has been used for the head RT (Rukun Tetangga) incentives. For example, if the village treasury land is managed by youth, it can be optimized so that the results can meet the need for incentives for the head of RT.

Feedback and Input

Based on the responses from the villagers’ representatives, Rajif gives an input that can be done for the next advocacy process. They are; need to the inventory of village treasury and its utility. Based on Government Regulation/ Peraturan Pemerintah (PP) about the implementation of the Village Law/ Undang-Undang (UU) Desa, the district government can be asked to facilitate the identification and inventory of assets in the village. The musyawarah desa that involved all of the parties can be a tool that needed to unite each other perspectives in the asset inventory processes.

Rajif also mentions about villages government need to think about the way to develop an inclusive and democratic local economy. These processes need to mainstreaming the social inclusion, that the one who loses the most is the one who will be prioritized. For advocacy in the level of district law, Rajif reminds us, aside from the assessment about village land governance, the villages which are get involved should be facilitated to agree on what changes are expected so that it can be a consideration of the policy that will be advocated.

Meanwhile, Gusrowi reminded if there is a term, deso mowo coro (each villages have ways), that needs to be considered in this process. Each village has its way to solve problems, don’t let this advocacy can’t accommodate it. To go there, it may be necessary to enter from the village government first, so that they can be encouraged to think about the welfare of the people, has not been to the higher-level regulations in the district.

The strategy’s entrance uses methods and language that are easily accepted in each village. What needs to be discussed first is how all the residents have the awareness to the unfortunate ones by giving a portion of the village treasury land that they own together.

As the closing, Lia from AKATIGA explained that the current discussion process is in the early process to gather all the interests. In the future, we will continue collecting knowledge, how much and for who is the use of the village treasury land, so that it can trigger more appropriate and better policies.

Translated by Shania Megarani