Eko SB Hariyanto
Fellow Since 1992
This description of Eko SB Hariyanto's work was prepared when Eko SB Hariyanto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
Working in Mataram, eastern Indonesia, Eko Hariyanto is organizing grassroots community groups to take far greater charge of local development planning and management and to actively press both government and outside development organizations to help but only in far more respectful, less controlling ways.
The New Idea
Eko seeks to shift the initiative and control in community development away from funders and outside development organizations, giving it to the local communities. Unlike other community-based, self-help strategies that turn down any outside support and take pride in remaining marginal and underfunded, Eko wants to keep the money flowing into local communities, but on very different terms. To do so, he is working simultaneously at three levels: (1) developing local self-help projects that can be models of local initiative and local leadership development; (2) changing the attitudes and approaches of development organizations so that they learn how to collaborate with local residents and are willing to challenge one another and funders to be similarly responsive; and (3) changing the attitudes and approaches of funding agencies. Eko wants to make it unacceptable for funding agencies to define their funding priorities without grassroots input, to fund projects that are not significantly community based, or to overwhelm small projects with heavy administrative requirements.Eko has organized an ad hoc "lobby" of development organizations. Together they have begun negotiations with the major funding agencies to define new guidelines and relationships. Eko expects an early success with the Indonesian government: it will very probably soon introduce significant improvements in its development assistance proposal request process. Eko and his colleagues have also begun talks with some of the major non-Indonesian development aid agencies.
A great many community development programs have been in place for years, but only a few programs have been successful. Typically, such programs do little to benefit the community. The government approach to community development is strongly biased toward physical facilities, such as markets, wells, and buildings for cooperatives. Programs that in theory were meant to involve the community in fact typically are channeled from the top down through village bureaucrats. This strategy seldom brings the desired results, let alone full participation of the people, despite the fact that the thinking behind many of these centrally created programs has been intelligent. The local bureaucracy simply cannot implement them.Many private voluntary and citizens' organizations involved in community development initially set out to change that top-down approach. Their intention was to ensure "people-participation." But, for several reasons, they have failed to do so. First, they come as outsiders, analyze the situation, and decide what programs are most suitable for the community. It is far easier to act than to merge one's thinking with villagers' and then act together. They remain outsiders.Second, such citizens' organizations are often closely tied to foreign funding agencies, which in turn often have their own ideas about what is the best program for the people. The programs are imposed on the Indonesian citizen organizations, which in turn impose them on the local communities. In other words, the Indonesian citizen organizations actually carry out the program of the international funding agencies. Further, the administrative aspects of meeting the funding agencies' needs are usually complicated. Both the development organization and the community end up spending too much time on and losing focus to these administrative requirements.Programs that are meant as only an entry point to organize people remain mere beachheads. Once the outside organization's project is over, the organization they created all too typically folds.
While working at the national level to change the thinking and behavior of the development groups and the funders, Eko has also been experimenting with grassroots villagers to demonstrate how they can best be helped to take firm, active control of their destinies. He is looking especially to develop an approach that draws on the knowledge and creativity of local citizens and leads to more intelligent use of local resources. Development initiatives built on these two foundations are likely to succeed and last. They are likely to be based on understanding the overall environment, draw on existing skills, have the commitment of those who conceived the program, and are unlikely to be derailed by uncomprehending outside diversions. Eko started with two Mataran villages, Rembiga and Sesela. He launched his work in Rembiga with a mistake. He tried to start a handicraft program, but he quickly saw that it was not going to work. The villagers did not have the skills, the sense for the market, or much interest. An object lesson in the costs of coming in as even a sensitive outsider.Observing that the Rembiga community's skills were heavily agricultural, Eko quickly shifted his focus to trying to help strengthen local farming and to create a revolving fund to help neighborhood women vegetable vendors. (This fund allows them to escape the daily loans they had to take out to purchase their stock of vegetables in the morning, loans that cost twenty percent a day in much of Indonesia.)In the agricultural area, Eko helped the community experiment with and market new crops commanding good prices, such as baby corn. In the process, he had to help the young people learn skills that the older people were no longer transmitting and help both age groups learn new skills. Building on these growing abilities, he engaged the young people in area regreening programs and also helped them get work as researchers for citizen development groups working in the region, thereby further building their skills. As these young people took on more and more, they organized a self-funded revolving fund that provides affordable small seed funds.In Sesela, Eko started with the same approach. He noticed that Sesela people are craftsmen, but, again, as in Rembiga, the younger generation did not have the skills and the older generation did not concentrate on this activity anymore. Eko revived the skills and introduced management and marketing aspects to the craftsmen.This activity attracted other institutions and organizations, and now the village is recognized as the craft center for west Lombok. With the support of Bina Desa, Eko set up a gallery that is now a profitable marketing outlet for the village's work. Eko next plans to give these two pilots much wider exposure, in part through the network of development organizations with which he is working on the more macro aspects of his work. He hopes that as they try to be more grassroots responsive, they will help spread some of his technique, if only to develop more partners with whom they can readily work.
Eko studied at the Faculty of Architecture at the Udayana University in Bali. The glamorous life of an architect did not appeal to him, so he chose to follow his drive to work with the people. He started early in his student years with activities that included organizing a group of cattle breeders in Bali, working on administering a clean water supply program, and organizing small traders in Jakarta. Eko is married and has one daughter.