Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Warning on US$11,000 grants to 3,800 villages

The Papua administration, which currently oversees autonomy funds for both Papua and Papua Barat (West Papua) provinces, has been warned to properly manage a directly distributed grant to over 3,800 villages. Papua Govenor Barnabas Suebu announced in February that the 2,700 villages in his province and 1,164 villages in Papua Barat province will each be granted Rp 100 million (about US$11,100) to get them active in specifying their needs and to outline planned development programs, as well as detailing plans for supervising the use of the money.

"There needs to be clear guidelines in place before villages receive the money. And villages need to be taught how to properly use the funds so that the money can benefit all residents," Fadal Alhamid, the secretary of the Majelis Rakyat Papua (the bi-provincial Papuan People's Congress), told The Jakarta Post in Jayapura.

"Distributing the grants without clear guidelines for their use and effective monitoring mechanisms will potentially create conflict because everyone will want a share of the Rp 100 million. We don't want the distribution of this money to create a situation which could negatively impact on the goal of improving people's welfare," he said.

He suggested that the provincial administration recruit qualified village secretaries to oversee the use of this money. These secretaries should be university graduates, he said. "There are many unemployed university graduates in the cities. They could be sent to villages to work as secretaries," he said.

Shopia Maipauw of the Association for Women's Policy Awareness hoped that women's needs will be met. "The percentage of this grant dedicated to women's issues should be made clear. If it isn't, women will continue to be marginalized," she said, adding that is was a concern that women's issues were being ignored in a similar village-based development program that has been in operation in Jayapura for five years. "The money is being controlled by men, so women are not receiving a share to finance their activities," she said.

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