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KSP Dialogue Forum: Village Leaders Share Challenges In Tackling COVID-19

JAKARTA - Village leaders across Java and Bali have shared their challenges and struggles in tackling COVID-19 transmission among their village communities through a virtual forum conducted by the Executive Office of the President (KSP) on Sunday (11/7).

Around 80 village leaders across Java and Bali attending the virtual meeting also pointed out their strategic roles in supporting the government’s emergency public activity restrictions (PPKM Darurat) through the so-called Village Movement Against COVID-19.

According to the Office, the forum aims to gain aspirations, perspectives and experiences directly from villages on the frontline of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Information and Political Communication Juri Ardiantoro also encouraged the village communities to freely state their criticism against the government. However, while criticisms are welcomed, the ideas for solutions are highly preferred, Juri said.

“KSP provides assistance in finding a solution as we will help to bridge the communication between the village and the related ministerial offices,” Juri stated.

A week on the implementation of PPKM, Juri pointed out that the public education on the mobility restriction was still lacking. According to the government’s data, the people’s mobility during PPKM has only been reduced to 30 percent, or twenty percent lower than expected.

Even under the implementation of PPKM, the roads were still packed with both essential and nonessential workers heading to their workplaces or doing their regular activities.

“We have a very limited number of security personnel to publicly enforce the PPKM regulation. Thus, we need the involvement of communities, like the village communities, to encourage people in reducing their mobility through cultural and structural approaches,” he continued. In addition, KSP also pushed village task forces to be actively involved in combating the COVID-19 transmission by endorsing the mobility restriction regulation among villagers.

While talking about the seriousness of the pandemic situation and its impact towards villages’ economy and health system, the COVID-19 pandemic also forced villages to work on a shoestring budget and they could not afford to overspend. In fact, the Home Ministry in February instructed eight percent allocation from village funds to be used for COVID-19 responses. The fund is expected to be spent for the procurement of surveillance posts, the establishment of self-isolation facilities, as well as the management of tracing and testing systems.

However, village administrations have called on more budget allocation for COVID-19 responses, as the current 8 percent allocation is far from enough especially to provide shelters or facilities intended for COVID-19 quarantine in the villages.

Among other challenges in handling COVID-19 in the village, different perceptions between the regional government and village administrations remain to be the biggest issue that is yet to be solved. For example, according to Wahyudi Anggoro Hadi, the village head of Panggungharjo, Bantul, Yogyakarta, the authorities have different opinions in determining the level of emergency and managing data on COVID-19 patients.

“The central government needs to issue a regulation that pushes for the seriousness of the regional government in responding to the COVID-19 crisis so that they won’t put the burden on the villages,” Wahyudi added. He further suggested a data integration that helps in easing the coordination between the central government, the regional government, the city administration and the village communities. It would also help the public society in accessing the health services easily, he said. KSP appreciates all suggestions delivered through the forum. The office also pledged to continue the intense communication with the village communities in order to provide assistance for villages in responding to the COVID-19 prolonged pandemic situation.