Doubtful. That is how the people of Baumata village reacted when Wahana Visi Indonesia first introduced the Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) program and asked them if it could work.
"We thought the program was making people talk too much, and that it wouldn’t bring good results. We could see discussions going on, monitoring of activities happening, proposals being written and sent, and so on. It was taking too long", said Katarina Fanggidae, a facilitator at the Baumata village.
Katarina was not the only one doubting. Most people in the village, including the officials, said they felt the same way. However, “after attending several meetings with the villagers, service providers and local government representatives we finally became more open-minded and understood the goals of the CVA program. This was possible because of the assistance of the Wahana Visi Indonesia, which gave the community the necessary information”, shared Katarina.
The CVA program, which is funded and supported by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability, invites the members of the community to be fully involved in the formulation and implementation of policies related to maternal and child health services.
"The citizens are trained to be able to monitor and speak out for public services’ improvement, especially on maternal and child health issues," said Yesaya Atollo, head of the Baumata village. “Our people used to feel hesitant, but now they have the courage to express their aspirations, reveal the weaknesses of the maternal and child health services, and fight for better delivery in our village”.
For example, one of the proposals put forward by the community at the meetings was to build a sub-public health center. "We don’t have a sub-public health center and so we asked for it during the CVA’s meetings. Our request has not been answered yet. Since the Baumata Public Health Center is not too far from us, the idea of having a sub-public health center does not seem too urgent to them,” said Stefanus Leo Penu, Cadre of Integrated Health Post and Head of Sub-village 2 of Baumata Village.
Citizens have become eager to learn and actively take part in efforts to improve health services in their village, largely thanks to the CVA program. And though not all their requests and suggestions get done, they are continually discussed by community members, service providers and local government and so the community understands why. Collaboration between the different stakeholders has indeed improved.
“All parties are keen to play active roles. They know the importance of dialogue; that it will not be in vain", said Yesaya. “A series of dialogues can lead to positive changes in Baumata Village”. Positive changes such as the construction of two new integrated health post buildings for babies and toddlers, which are also being used as training center for cadres of Integrated Health Post.
"Open dialogues make people more critical but it also helps us, village officers, to understand the importance of community participation in development," said Yesaya. “The Baumata people do not hesitate anymore. Their doubt has disappeared because of the positive impact of CVA program. We encourage them not to be afraid to express their opinions and make complains. It can only bring good transformations”.
(Written by: Morstens Hanas; Edited by: Mauricio Rios and Sandra Valdivia, GPSA)