Establishment A Community Empowerment Effort

A number of smarting events occurred in Early 2008 e.g rare kerosene, soybean price hike and the last wheat flour disappeared from the market. A massive demonstration and production halt of “tempeh” (fermented soybean cake) producers throughout Greater Jakarta successfully changed the government policy not to impose soybean import duty. It is expected that the soybean price immediately declines and Tempeh producers can continue their production, so that all Indonesian citizen can enjoy eating tempeh and tahu (soybean curd) again.  However, it gives no result. Finally, policy on tax reduction is only beneficial for entrepreneurs at final distribution point and not for tempeh producers or soybean farmers. Indeed, the soybean price hike not increase soybean farmers’ welfare even unable to compete against import soybean.

Those socio economic problems caused basic question appeared again. The basic question is how’s the fate of marginalized poor people? On the other side, several natural disasters either small or big which once hit some regions in Indonesia make it poverty problem being worst.

Another concern in empowerment activities is resignation of International Donor Agency at the end of 2008 in after Tsunami region in Aceh. This is as part of an agreement made and entered into by and between the Indonesian government and some donor agencies concerning rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in Aceh which will only to take place until three years following the earth quake.

On the other part, the government since 2007 has started a community empowerment strategy contained in the Community Empowerment National Program (PNPM) which is coordinated by the Coordinating Minister of People’s welfare which involved some related departments. Despite approach and implementation of program is not far different from P2KP (Urban alleviation poverty program) or  PPK (sub-district development program) this program should be respected as the government’s initiative toward the community empowerment.

Another actor in Empowerment 

CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility which is obliged for any company conducts explortion or foreign company in Indonesia is new opportunity in empowerment program. This matter will unveil myth currently developed, Empowerment efforts is only supported by two actors that is government and foreign donor agency. If not, empowerment program funds come from community self-reliance. At least, CSR is obliged to give support the company to participate in community empowerment effort. CSR develops only as one of strategies to control society to give support the company’s activities.

As a result, CSR is often meant as the company’s donation to participate in community activities such as contests for celebration the Independence Day in every August, party in the village, road construction and some other programs. The company’s existence in village means opportunity to carry out physical facilities development which is often ignored by the government. The company’s physical facilities development and donation should be acceptable if CSR approach is more intensified and effective.

“CSR can be directed to have more perspective toward Human Rights Protection” said Wahyu Indriyo, Director of PUSKA (Center for Research and Study of Bina Swadaya). More specific, CSR can provide assistance to society for reaching of their dignity such as reasonable life, proper education, clean water and some other matters. However, such approach is not only carried out to physical facilities, but also to the more principle approaches such as assistance and community empowerment in socio-economic side.

Bina Swadaya, through a Capacity Building Program for Nearby Community Enhancement or often called CABINET, performs community empowerment in the area to be exploited by mining company in Kalimantan. The program consists of the Self Help Groups development, increasing capacity of society in the field of farming and wood processing, and strengthening NGOs and government element to give support to the community self-reliance program. The program which initially conducted by Bina Swadaya’s Training and Education Center in collaboration with one of mining companies can become a model which can be imitated in other companies’ CSR Model.