Raven Antonius | Papuan Lecturer
In Papua, a village was previously called Desa, but since the Determination of Law Number 21 of 2001 regarding special autonomy for Papua Province, it is now called Kampong. Kampong is an area that consists of several families who live in that area and become a community. It has authorized territorial borders where they can manage and take care of the community’s interests based on the local customs that are recognized and respected in the Government of the Republic of Indonesia’s system
Cited from the Ministry of Domestic Affairs website, the total village in Papua in 2015 is 5.419 and Papua is the 4th province with the highest number of villages among the 34 provinces in Indonesia. The community who lives in Papuan villages still hold their customs and social norms in their daily life.
This year, The Ministry of Villages, Underdeveloped Regions, and Transmigration of the Republic of Indonesia has a program to upgrade the living quality of the people in villages, which is called the Autonomous Village program. An autonomous village in Papua is a pilot project which is based on the custom and social norms of the people in Papua. The program has already started in April 2016.
The village that has implemented the Autonomous Village program in Papua is Kampong Usku, which is located in Senggi Region, Keerom District, Papua Province, bordering with Papua New Guinea. Previously, many local people in Kampong Usku go to the forests to gather food or hunt animals for days and even weeks. There was no adequate health facility, and their education was poor. Thanks to this program, some of the villagers have received training on how to do farming and gardening, so they can harvest their crops. Now, they rarely have to go to the forests to gather food, because they have much food in their yard, such as corn, taro leaves, cucumber, soy, tomato, chili, and so on.
Apart from being able to provide their food, other advantages of this program are; an improvement in the economy of the community by selling their products and also preserving the forests. Additionally, to upgrade their education and living quality, they have community empowerment training. This training is crucial for the people in the villages to develop the potentials of locally-based businesses.
Special autonomy is known to be of great help to Papuan villagers until now
Other government programs to empower villages in Papua is “Desa Teknologi Informasi dan Komunikasi – Information and Communication Technology Village”. This program introduces the villages communities to the technology of information and communication.