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Effective Governance

READ THE STORIES: Expanding Access to Legal Identity | Building on the Pandemic Response for Lasting Social Protections

Expanding Access to Legal Identity

In Indonesia, legal identity documents have been a major stumbling block in getting people who are poor or living in vulnerable conditions the government services they need. Without such vital records, government officials “were practically guesstimating” for years about how much to budget for public assistance and who should get it, says Samuel Waromi, head of the Waroser village in Aceh. And those families that did get a document used it “to wrap fried food because they thought it was unimportant,” notes Uswatun Khairat, a Gampong (village) registration officer. This meant that people couldn’t show their eligibility for aid.


This situation has changed in seven provinces thanks to the Abt-led and Australia-funded KOMPAK project. Its cross-cutting work for select provincial, district, and village governments in Indonesia helps them develop accurate budgets, plan for services, and implement service delivery. The project also facilitates access to basic services and economic opportunities for people in need. The governance interventions at national and sub-national government levels included improved financial management systems and village information systems that identify marginalized groups. An important programmatic benefit was improved capabilities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bottom line: from 2015 to 2021, KOMPAK contributed to improvements in key outcomes in 24 districts across Indonesia, including a decrease in the poverty rate and in the Gender Inequality Index, and an increase in the Human Development Index.

The village information systems, Sistem Informasi Desa, helped village governments budget and plan more accurately, because they knew the number of people who require assistance in their jurisdictions. Village cadres interview every family in every targeted village to get data. The improved information enables officials to offer aid to those most in need. "There is housing assistance for the underprivileged, wells built for those who do not have one just yet, and assistance in installing electrical connections," says Erik Piterson Ladaw, a Waroser cadre. "The program was a match made in heaven for me.”

After identifying the target population, KOMPAK worked to get people to register to obtain legal identity papers by alerting them that they need the documents to get assistance from anti-poverty programs, such as the Family Hope Program and Non-Cash Food Assistance Program. KOMPAK also went door-to-door to help people process the documents. "Birth certificate ownership coverage in the Bireuen District has increased from 45 percent in 2017 to 89 percent in 2021, which is higher than the national target," notes Mursyidi, head of the Simpang Mamplam District.

Access to the services is another matter, however, especially if families must spend money and time away from work to reach a distant government office. To tackle that problem, KOMPAK helped PEKKA, the Women-Headed Household Empowerment Foundation, organize an information and consultation service clinic in a community hall in the Trenggalek Sub-district. The clinic brought the community everything from population-administration services to health checks. By day’s end, the clinic had processed 125 identity-document cases (resolving 100 percent of them), 125 health cases, 97 social-issue cases, and 29 education cases. The district government also collected comprehensive data on residents’ problems, which will serve as benchmarks to improve policies.

Marmi, a farmworker and mother of two, was thrilled that she didn’t have to make multiple trips to the district office 27 km from her home to get her national identity card—at a cost of about half her monthly income. "I am overjoyed because I can finally obtain my [identity card] without having to spend a single rupiah,” she says.

CLIENT: Australia Department For Foreign Assistance and Trade (DFAT)

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The British Government has a clear objective in Nepal: supporting efforts to improve the well-being of marginalized citizens. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has a portfolio of programs aligned with five strategic goals: Open Societies, Stability and Security, Inclusive Growth, Climate and Resilience, and Support to Women and Girls. The portfolio relies on a data-driven management approach to optimize effectiveness.
That’s where the Abt Britain-led Portfolio Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning program (PMEL) comes in. It helps the British Embassy in Kathmandu make evidence-based, timely, and strategic management decisions by bringing together evidence and lessons from across its program portfolio. PMEL supports efforts to improve coherence and make judgments about program synergies, transferability, and cumulative effects. PMEL also strengthens information use through shared indicators for portfolio-level tracking. Some examples of the work that PMEL has done: The Embassy’s Gender Team will use PMEL’s analysis as a basis to complete its first gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) audit. PMEL analyzed the breadth and depth of GESI mainstreaming in Embassy programs using various gender equality and women’s empowerment frameworks. In addition, our analysis of technical assistance using our Systems Change Diagnostic tool sparked debate about the ways projects are delivered. The tool assessed the spread and intent of technical assistance across the Embassy’s portfolio and whether it creates system change with the Government of Nepal.
PROJECT: Nepal Portfolio Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (PMEL) program
CLIENT: U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

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Building on the Pandemic Response for Lasting Social Protection

For the last decade, the majority of the population of Timor-Leste relied on agriculture and the informal economy for income, but 40 percent of households lived below the poverty line and a similar proportion lived precariously just above it. When the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Timor-Leste in March 2020, the government declared a state of emergency to prevent the spread of the virus, imposing a significant burden on an economy already weakened by political instability.

To combat the risk of growing poverty, the government of Timor-Leste launched an emergency cash transfer program for households, with an emphasis on providing assistance to rural women and children. The Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion (MSSI) took the lead and engaged the Abt Australia-led Partnership for Human Development (PHD) to complement its limited resources and lack of strong systems to administer the program.

PHD was a logical choice. Since 2019 it had focused on a package of reforms for Bolsa da Mãe, the government’s cash transfer program for families. Embedded in the Ministry, PHD technical teams had worked with senior officials behind the scenes, providing policy, systems, and legislative support to build trust in the ministry’s management capabilities by increasing transparency and strengthening program governance.

When the pandemic hit, PHD partnered with MSSI to provide analysis to defend MSSI’s case for distributing the emergency funds. MSSI asked PHD to help draft legislation and develop detailed systems for the program, from beneficiary identification, registration, and payments to public health measures to minimize COVID-19 transmission risk on payment day. To enhance payment distribution-tracking, PHD partnered with a local technology company, Catalpa International, to develop a real-time information management system to track payments and ensure transparency.

Despite the obstacles that the pandemic posed, the program succeeded on many levels. Preliminary data show that 299,808 households in 452 villages received nearly $60 million in payments in five weeks—a major achievement. A survey showed that 95 percent of beneficiaries would buy food with the funds, and 99 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the process. MSSI Vice-Minister Signi Verdial expressed how critical PHD’s support has been to government efforts: “PHD have done a great job in helping MSSI deliver the emergency payments.”

MSSI’s success with the emergency program paved the way for a push to expand Bolsa da Mãe further—something advocates for women have sought for nearly a decade. The Prime Minister asked MSSI to present detailed plans for Bolsa da Mãe reform. After PHD delivered more than 20 policy briefs, Bolsa da Mãe’s budget nearly doubled—from $7.1 million in 2021 to $13.1 in 2022. It will provide monthly payments and nutrition and hygiene counselling to reduce poverty and malnutrition for pregnant women and young children.

Abt’s innovative design of the COVID-19 household payment, its procedures, and its implementation built the trust of parliament in MSSI. The significant improvements in quality and accessible service delivery demonstrated a model that MSSI can replicate in other social protection programs, including Bolsa da Mãe. Abt Australia has built on the initiative’s success to influence government investment levels in the larger reform effort.

PROJECT: Australia Timor-Leste Partnership for Human Development (PHD)
CLIENT: Australia Department for Foreign Assistance and Trade (DFAT)

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