Using local knowledge in policy making
Using local knowledge in policy making
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter presents the landscape of technical and non-technical factors shaping constraints as well as opportunities for the use of knowledge in policy-making. It describes the challenges and strategies to communicate local knowledge for influencing policy-making processes in the formal-legalistic policy-making process. The strategies include understanding the political economy of policy making process, working politically through relationship-based approach and crafting local knowledge as an ‘electoral asset’ of shared concern in a decentralised political system, made possible by local knowledge serving to constitute social identities as base of political support.
Adopted policies are often not the policies that technical evidence recommends as the best or even the second best. Policies are made not just on the basis of technical evidence, but also under the influence of non-technical forces, such as public opinion and political pressure. As discussed in Chapter Two, policies must be put into practice in a society which somehow must accommodate the vested interests of various pressure and special interest groups. The influence of these non-technical factors is important, somewhat non-transparent and non-systematic, in both developing and developed countries. The landscape of these influential technical and non-technical factors shapes constraints as well as opportunities for the use of knowledge in policy making.
How is local knowledge communicated?
As we saw in the previous chapter, partners’ local knowledge is far more complex and varied than scientific knowledge. It can be both tacit and explicit, and both individual and shared, making it harder to communicate in the formal legalistic policy-making process. This feature shapes the way research partners communicate local knowledge for influencing policy-making processes.
(p.120) Partners’ first strategy in communicating local knowledge is a process of ‘local knowledge reproduction’: identifying and codifying different types and expressions of local knowledge into tangible products that are ‘communication-friendly’. These are then made available to a wide variety of end users including local community members, scientists, policy makers and the general public. Each of these user groups may have different levels of access and need information in a different form.
The use of local knowledge depends on the type of knowledge product and the datasets documented. Local knowledge datasets and products vary: tables of observations, works of art (graphic, music and sculpture), photographs, local gazetteers, local dictionaries and other linguistic materials, local weather station data, maps and transcripts of recordings. Despite this variety, most of the use of local knowledge as reported by partners is in the form of text, articles and audiovisual media, as the key target audiences are the public and government/policy makers.
In our study of water management in Timor, we noted that there is still work to be done to build understanding and dialogue across the community (among different clans) and between the community and policy makers. Outstanding issues include collective arrangements of water management, conflict resolution mechanisms and minimum recognition of management rights, tiered management, knowledge on the history of water sources, and adoption of a water resources management structure. Therein lie the challenges of engaging other institutions to perform a collaborative and collective assessment, and to change the paradigm of decision makers to understand and accept that local knowledge on community-based water management contains various values, norms and positive beliefs that preserve the sustainability of water management, both upstream and downstream. (Pikul)
The communication strategies of partners described in the reports included a wide variety of media, languages, forums and (p.121) communication processes to maximise participation and learning from and by indigenous and local knowledge holders. PKPM in Aceh reported that its first public hearing for policy advocacy with a local government was regulated by the use of formal language, which included technical terms and certain patterns of communication.
We intensively created personal and institutional approaches with policy makers and convinced them that what is being fought for is very useful for the people. What is more important and has added value in the process is the power of the emotional bond. This bond breaks down bureaucratic layers that sometimes make discussion difficult. Informal approaches in certain situations will make things easier in the policy-making process. Some of our communication efforts with relevant institutions and the district parliament (DPRK) have yielded results. DPRK is very supportive of efforts to integrate local knowledge on rice field agriculture into local policy. (PKPM Aceh)
Through this format, they found that the bureaucratic layers did not recognise everyday informal language of lay people where local knowledge is embedded. Rather, it created distorted communication in policy deliberation processes in which individuals of higher social status used expert voices to overshadow local knowledge and views. This distortion of communication resulted in an exclusion of local knowledge. Many local participants censored themselves, as they did not have the self-confidence to express their own knowledge in the face of expert opinion that sometimes disparaged local knowledge. To address this, PKPM changed the format and setting of the meeting and community facilitators played a greater role in facilitating the dialogue.
In a less-than-supportive political structure, personal approach and individual communication are two important keys in successfully influencing policy. High quality research evidence is not enough to influence policy. There must be a dynamic at play within the political structure. Even in the local context, (p.122) this is an important lesson in influencing policy. Policy actors can support this research outcome and be important actors in our view. We conducted regular approaches to the head of Aceh Besar DPRK, the vice district head, and several directors and staff of relevant offices. Through close individual relationships, these policy actors have pushed issues forward in forums where they are involved, including in programme discussion between the executive and legislative branches. (PKPM Aceh)
With regard to policy advocacy, partners reported organising public hearings as an instrument for incorporating local knowledge into government planning processes. Although channels used to approach government are different in different regions (for example, in Aceh with the district planning agency, in Southeast Sulawesi through the Bureau of Law at the district head’s office, and in Kendal, Central Java, through the DPRD), they shared the approach of framing local knowledge as ‘local sentiment’. This celebrated local wisdom in a political culture of regional autonomy that often honours the local.
The other approach implemented by local partners to communicate with local knowledge-to-policy makers has been to emphasise that local knowledge not only frames the boundaries and possibilities of local policy, but also shapes the interpretations of policy legitimacy. However, there are structural and administrative constraints to pushing local knowledge in policy decisions. These constraints include the formal procedures for policy-making mechanisms, representation issues and budgeting procedures, as in the following case reported by YKU in Aceh.
A beneficial change for people who contribute labour to economic development activities was delivered by the Beng Mawah Micro-Finance Institution. The change was initiated by civil society organisation activists in Aceh. The Beng Mawah Micro-Finance Institution provides access to capital for its members to start a venture in agriculture or farming, or a home industry. A capital loan is given without collateral, with profit (p.123) sharing of 70:30, higher than the general profit sharing of 50:50. The Beng Mawah Micro-Finance Institution has distributed around Rp 333 million (US$25,000) to 45 members. Even though it continues to grow, it still faces challenges, such as limited availability of capital, meaning people have to wait for more than one saving and loan cycle (one year) to apply for credit. In addition, the limited business scale causes the income of the institution to be limited; it cannot afford to pay staff professionally. The Aceh Province Community Empowerment Agency needs to encourage village government to prepare a village regulation to ensure that profit sharing is professional, honest, fair and in line with Islamic shariya law. (YKU)
Another issue documented by research partners is people’s motivation to participate in public policy-making processes. Partner organisations reported that people act only when they feel that their position is under threat because of a public policy. This explains why local knowledge on sustainable water ecosystem management in Torong Besi, East Nusa Tenggara, became a driver for the people to respond to a government policy that allows mining activities in their livelihood areas. Communities in Torong Besi are less interested in participating in government-managed development planning forums (known as musrenbang) because they do not reflect local knowledge, and in some cases even conflict with local conditions. Under a state-led bottom-up development planning regime like musrenbang, where local aspirations are often invisible at a higher level, the question arises: which participatory practices are most efficacious in capturing local knowledge and incorporating it into plans? The case from BIGS in Central Java shows that local knowledge can make normative contributions to environmental and development planning, and toward enhanced procedural democracy. This is the result of the incorporation of previously excluded and marginalised voices into technical research and decision-making processes, particularly in technocratic decision-making processes where expertise tends to exclude people.
(p.124) The focus is on the social and cultural history of Kendal. The form is an event on the anniversary of the district, and an art festival. Traditional values, including respect for nature, and ceremonies have not yet been celebrated; according to the Culture and Tourism Agency, this is due to the absence of a local partner that can be asked to work together and use the local government’s budget to promote traditional values. Therefore, the Culture and Tourism Office requested that the BIGS team in Kendal establish an indigenous institution. The institution would be added as a partner. The following year, it would receive funding in the form of support for cultural activities. BIGS views this as a promising opportunity to promote institutional, culture-based forest preservation advocacy in Kendal district. (BIGS)
In communicating their local observations and knowledge, partners demonstrate a shared understanding that they need to go beyond the ‘exoticism’ of local wisdom to its utility in managing community life. Simply attempting to capture local observations and knowledge and publish them may fail to adequately represent the knowledge, and even lead to a ‘commodification’ of local knowledge, as in the following experiences from PUSKA UI:
Translating scientific arguments, findings and evidence into a policy brief to develop learning among policy makers is not easy. Without strong support of the agro-meteorologist on the scientific arguments and findings about climate change and its implications for agriculture, and the realities shown by farmers themselves, it would not have been possible to convince policy makers of the importance of introducing science field shops. Climate change is not a negotiable subject. It is a reality, yet it is beyond lay people’s understanding without knowledge transfer and climate services provided by scientists and responsible authorities (for example, the National Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geo-physics). For policy makers, being flexible in adjusting policies under emerging, unexpected or unusual (p.125) circumstances has not been part of the ‘habitus’. The question is the extent to which ‘responsive and flexible governance’ has been part of the bureaucratic culture to respond to emerging phenomena such as climate change, which is already having an impact on the environment and on people’s livelihoods. We realised, therefore, that translating the complex phenomena into language understood by policy makers was a matter of urgency. Again, the work of the agro-meteorological expert was crucial and an inter-disciplinary collaboration was necessary. Translating the scientific explanations into understandable Bahasa Indonesia presented narratively was also very demanding work that needed hours of experience and learning.
The challenge faced by a researcher in local knowledge is how to effectively communicate study findings to policy makers. The science field shops not only provide practical solutions to farmers, they also mediate between relevant parties from different levels of the system. For example, science field shops need to convince the government and policy makers that providing climate services and other services to farmers in an appropriate and timely manner enables them to adapt to climate change. PUSKA UI, along with the Rainfall Observation Club, holds workshops and communicates science field shops to the local government. This communication can be in the form of community radio, social media, video or policy briefs. These activities strengthen networks and engage policy makers. Farmers can anticipate and make some changes, but for policy making and policy influence, they cannot do it alone, they need help to engage with and influence government.
We [PUSKA UI] initiated the up-scaling movement and dissemination of science field shops and agro-meteorological learning through community radio broadcasting in Nunuk village, Indramayu. We continued this by also initiating a new broadcast in the northwest of Indramayu. In East Lombok, the farmers already had their tradition of social gatherings in an open hut called a Berugaq. Farmer-to-farmer knowledge transfer had (p.126) been happening since the formation of the Indramayu Rainfall Observation Club through rural communication networks. Besides the rural knowledge transfer and communication technologies developed in the past six months, we also initiated social media and video productions. Farmers also used Facebook and Instagram, which allowed other farmers and the general public to access their seasonal scenarios, news and activities around agro-meteorological learning. PUSKA will make a monthly editorial plan, which can be accessed by both the PUSKA and Sirius Labs (an information technology and social media organisation). Later, Sirius Labs will upload photos, articles and seasonal scenarios in line with the editorial plan on Facebook and Instagram. (PUSKA UI)
Framing local knowledge as ‘good practice’ without context presents the risk of removing important social and cultural information about the origins of the knowledge, how the data were created, and appropriate and acceptable uses of the data. A good example is Poros Photo’s study of the whaling traditions in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara. They attempted to communicate the message that this tradition was integral to the community’s way of life and indeed its world view; abolishing it would end not only their livelihood, but the very thing upon which their sense of community and identity is built. Poros Photo followed the daily lives of the villagers of Lamalera and took pictures related to the whaling activities. A photo and film exhibition was organised and a photo essay book was published to communicate the message that the indigenous practice of community whaling is different from commercial whaling. Responses to the Poros Photo exhibition and publication varied. Some of the responses indicated that the communication strategy was effective. By going beyond the simple documentation of local observations and knowledge, the use of interactive exhibitions and multimedia presented new possibilities for recording and sharing local observations and knowledge. The audio and video recordings documented observations, knowledge and narratives as told by knowledge holders and communities in the (p.127) language of their choice. To add a visual dimension, Poros Photo provided photographs and other visualisations to further complement the knowledge documentation process. Amplifying the message and the movement, working through media (including social media) is another effective communication strategy.
Who to influence
In general, in their efforts to influence policy making, partners do not directly engage key policy makers. Instead, they work through agents – people surrounding key policy makers, such as influential legislators and administrators, as well as community decision makers or influential local leaders and influential citizens. The agents of change with whom the partners engage vary in terms of positions and roles within knowledge-to-policy processes. In areas where traditional structures and institutions exist and remain influential, the key agents of change to influence are indigenous people’s leaders and councils. These groups function as intermediary organisations to reach policy makers. If policy makers believe the public needs to be educated in the ways and knowledge of professional experts to meaningfully participate in development decisions, partners first influence local university scientists to have an alliance to strengthen their ‘scientific’ legitimacy. What they offer to the university scientists is social legitimacy and access to data in the community.
Even though the mechanisms we used supported our efforts to influence policy makers, this did not necessarily mean that policy makers would accept our arguments and evidence. Farmers had traditionally been considered ‘objects and targets’ of all government programmes, rather than government counterparts in achieving national or local objectives in agricultural development. Therefore, acceptance of farmers’ stories and evidence was not to be expected immediately. In responding to scientists’ and farmers’ arguments, policy makers would refer to their own perceptions, ideas and programmes which, in their (p.128) eyes, proved to be ‘right’ and ‘effective’ in producing changes in farming practices. Critiques and comments, instead of listening and trying to understand the scientists’ and farmers’ arguments, were common. Although on one hand they accepted the importance of the climate change issue, on the other hand they had a responsibility to achieve the main objective – increasing productivity. Addressing the ‘danger’ and ‘imminent threat’ of the consequences of climate change against the main objective of achieving high productivity, supported by evidence, had to be considered by both scientists and farmers in their presentations and voices. The visual media, such as the film screening, photo exhibitions and farmers’ own products, together with the scientists’ PowerPoint presentations, were appropriate ways to influence policy makers. However, without the involvement of farmers themselves, any efforts to influence policy makers would not yield sufficient results. (PUSKA UI)
Locality and place are relevant to local knowledge organisations, especially in their efforts to institutionalise specific local knowledge in public policy. This is because ‘the local’ is seen as simply a backdrop for action. For example, melesi, the community mechanism for sharing the burden in Southeast Sulawesi, was originally applied in Ranomeeto sub-district and is being scaled up at Konawe Selatan through a district regulation. Another case involves the Bappeda office in Aceh Besar, which is developing operational guidelines to implement the mawah system in the district.
Various stakeholders and important actors with information are engaged at multiple stages. They include village leaders, religious leaders (Imuem Mukim, keuchik, keujruen, MAA, P3A) and agriculture educators. The objective is to obtain information comprehensively, according to the facts on the ground. Imuem Mukim (a sub-district level leader) and keuchik (the head of a village/gampong) are important figures in exploring local knowledge. They also act as intermediaries who can (p.129) communicate local knowledge to the government. The Aceh Province Planning Agency, Aceh Indigenous Council and relevant offices discuss the mechanisms to implement mawah in the poverty eradication policy, the distribution of village funds and village cash transfers from provincial government, as well as the gampong economic empowerment programme from relevant institutions. The Aceh government recognises and supports the existence of mawah by drafting a Qanun (Local Regulation), so that mawah, as a heritage of Aceh, does not become marginalised in its place of origin. (YKU)
When the policy-making process and local political context were closed, partner organisations tried to influence the public through ‘popular education’ to create public pressure on policy makers, as in the case below.
In a monolithic political structure, with relatively homogenous political actors and very dominant elites, the policy-making process is determined by a handful of people. In this situation, we conducted popular education to create significantly stronger public pressure and consolidation of various parties with the same concerns around collective action. Consolidation of collective actions is useful as an education process. The experiences from Belu and Manggarai demonstrated that a number of actors and intermediaries played serious roles in promoting the engagement of local people and transforming local knowledge into policies on the extractive industry. These intermediaries do more than just transform local knowledge from tacit to explicit knowledge; they strive to consolidate collective action to improve natural resource management in their respective areas. (POLGOV)
As we saw in Chapters Two and Five, religion can be a key element in shaping local knowledge, serving to preserve a group’s unity, as well as being a medium through which identity conflicts are reflected and negotiated. The extent to which religious leaders are engaged in (p.130) policy-making processes varies greatly from one location to another. For example, the report by POLGOV shows how the Archbishop of Ruteng (and the Catholic Church’s international network) is one of the more influential groups in the policy-making process in Manggarai and East Nusa Tenggara. Therefore, in the policy advocacy work for anti-mining, POLGOV and other civil society organisations engaged religious leaders to influence the policy-making process in Manggarai. Aceh is another good example of how partners could build the support of religious and adat groups.
The Aceh Traditional Adat Council or Majelis Adat Aceh (MAA) is one of the stakeholders within the organisational structure of the Aceh government. MAA is actively promoting Islam and local knowledge in government policies. The example is from the provincial level, where MAA has promoted local knowledge through the issuance of Governor Regulation (Pergub) 45/2015 on the Role of Keujruen Blang in irrigation management. In this regulation, the term P3A is omitted and is replaced by Keujruen Blang, showing that this Governor Regulation has very much acknowledged local knowledge. Furthermore, MAA included the empowerment of the Keujruen Blang traditional institution as one of its programmatic focuses for 2016. (PKPM Aceh)
The politics of local knowledge to policy
Our partners showed different mechanisms for using local knowledge and understanding the local political context to influence policy-making processes in different political-economy settings. In general, they implemented the following strategies and approaches:
Partners and communities sometimes mobilised personal networks to approach policy makers and people surrounding them, building trust and then following the procedural/legal process to formalise policy (p.131) changes. With this approach, the credibility and authoritative power of their arguments were based on the intermediary’s personal power, as in the following cases.
We intensively create personal and institutional approaches with policy makers and convince them that what we are fighting for is very useful for the people. What is more important and has added value to the process is the power of the emotional bond. This can break bureaucratic layers that sometimes make discussion difficult. Informal approaches in certain situations will make things easier in the policy-making process. Some of our communication efforts with relevant institutions and DPRK have yielded results. They are very supportive of efforts to integrate local knowledge on rice field agriculture into local policy. (PKPM Aceh)
Personal, face-to-face communication with intended policy makers proved useful and effective in building up a mutual understanding and in finding common ground to develop a policy and programmes supporting science field shops. We experienced this through our personal communication with the vice-head of East Lombok, and the head of the Agricultural Extension Office in Indramayu. (PUSKA UI)
Through interviews, we build communication and approaches – this is not done during working hours. Sometimes we communicate in the interviewee’s home, making the process more fluid and relaxed. The intensity of communication is established through personal approaches to selected policy-making stakeholders within the local government and DPRD, outside of formal activities, for example, by visiting their office. This was implemented to promote the recommended proposal being developed, and to learn the response and views of the stakeholders. Local civil society partners and networks can play a crucial part in helping build trust with stakeholders, both in (p.132) local government and with indigenous leaders. We conveyed policy briefs in a multi-stakeholder discussion. Responses were positive from the participating stakeholders, such as local secretariat staff, Bappeda, the Environmental Agency, the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Office, members of DPRD, indigenous adat and religious leaders. The meeting agreed on recommendations from the study, and requested the team follow up these recommendations by converting them into an academic paper to gain a comprehensive and deep understanding of the concept, objective and goals. (PATTIRO)
Local knowledge as an ‘electoral asset’
In a decentralised polity such as Indonesia with competitive local elections, local knowledge can be used to convince decision makers of community practices. Advocates rely on the political dimension of local knowledge as a manifestation of an interest group’s aspiration, instead of the technical (‘efficiency’) explanatory factor. When Pikul brought evidence that local water systems were more effective to sub-national authorities in East Nusa Tenggara, it was not how strong the technical solution was that won the day, but more because the system was accepted by a large number of people who represented a significant electoral asset. This message made local politicians become more conscious of local solutions.
In many cases, local practices were communicated as an aspiration or shared concern of policy makers’ voters. This ‘politicisation’ of local knowledge is possible because local knowledge may serve to constitute social identities, which is one of the main bases of political support.
In the knowledge-to-policy process, the capacity to identify, produce and disseminate knowledge produced by, from and through the community is necessary, but not sufficient. Experience often demonstrates that the capacity to establish political strategy and tactics is a determining factor. On one hand, such political capacity is the ability to identify and explore (p.133) opportunities in political structures, engage in political education at the grassroots level and establish awareness and public pressure through collective action. On the other hand, it is the ability to negotiate with parties relevant and influential to the policy process. This political capacity is as important as the technocratic capacity to produce knowledge that will be used as evidence in the policy process through a series of scientific methods that are deemed valid and logical. (POLGOV)
The understanding of policy makers and other stakeholders on the importance of local knowledge in formulating policies has improved. An example of this is the involvement of the Aceh Besar Vice District Head who cooperated with various parties to revitalise Keujruen Blang. This included opening political access and lines to make it easier for PKPM to conduct advocacy on the research result. Based on the interview with PKPM researchers, the Vice District Head was willing to offer support, as this would give him an opportunity to raise his popularity for the next election. The district parliament (DPRK) of Aceh Besar included PKPM’s policy notes in the local 2017 legislation programme and the chair of the local parliament ordered relevant commissions to cooperate with PKPM in drafting a district regulation (Qanun) on the Empowerment of Keujruen Blang. (PKPM Aceh)
Local wisdom is an important element when making policies to establish an environmentally friendly city to adapt to global climate change. The Banjarmasin House of Representatives agreed to listen to LK3 on several occasions, on issues such as river management, lanting houses, building permits and the establishment, arrangement and use of river boundaries, including those of former rivers. These local regulations, as recommended by LK3 research, need to be revised according to the cultural characteristics of the Banjar people.
There are, however, risks with this approach. In the political sphere, it is a fine line between localism, populism and prejudice. Even though (p.134) we did not find any outright instance of this in our ten localities, it is a common phenomenon in Indonesia. A study by an Indonesian human rights group (ELSAM, 2008) presents the implementation of local regulations in three districts (Garut, Bulukumba and Padang). The study finds that many regulations, although they used community aspirations and local wisdom as key references, were often exclusive and discriminatory. For example, Local Regulation No 6/2003 of Bulukumba, forces the Toraja indigenous group to register as Muslims to claim land or to marry. What we did find in our studies, though, were instances in which local knowledge was monopolised by certain community groups to the exclusion of others, reinforcing inequalities. A pattern of gathering, codifying, analysing and translating local knowledge into public policy may draw local knowledge into an institutionalisation trap, moving away from the locality concept of local knowledge, into populism and discrimination against outsiders. We need to be careful not to romanticise local knowledge, or take it at face value.
Improving community participation in policy implementation decisions
Communities and partners can put pressure on planners to find new ways of fusing the expertise of scientists with insights from the local knowledge of communities. Partners worked with the communities facing the most serious environmental risks to challenge the distinctions of experts and lay people.
Fundamentally, a policy should be relevant to the needs and preferences of the public. Therefore, evidence is needed. Traditionally, most evidence has come from organisations or institutions whose expertise in identifying and producing knowledge in a logical and scientific manner is recognised, such as civil society organisations, think tanks and others. We cannot ignore the fact that evidence may come from people’s experience through their various backgrounds, both those formally trained and those who have learned from daily experience. (POLGOV) (p.135) LAHA facilitator’s conducted ‘Community Aspiration Networks’ (Jaring Aspirasi Masyarakat) through multiple approaches (organising group discussions, interviewing hospital inpatients and conducting household surveys) to obtain evidence and experience on a government health insurance (BPJS) funding policy. LAHA collected the real costs paid by BPJS participants, then submitted this as evidence to be negotiated with BPJS officers, the health office and the local government to find a contextual financing solution. This activity encouraged the local government to bridge the gap between the calculation of BPJS health fees and the real needs of the people by providing a complementary service to local health insurance. (LAHA)
There were also cases where the dominant view of community knowledge complemented the work of experts. The task of partners was to convince policy makers by integrating local knowledge with university-generated scientific knowledge and in the process, as discussed in Chapter Two (page 40–41), improve the quality of public policy and chances of implementation. Partners facilitate a ‘hybridising’ of professional discourse with local experience, and ultimately promote the ‘scientification’ of local knowledge on the one hand, and wider democratic legitimacy for scientific decisions on the other. This strategy was chosen because promoting the message that local knowledge is good is not always easy. Partners reported some critical responses asking, ‘If indigenous knowledge is so good, why is the community owning the knowledge so poor?’
Since undertaking the research, PUSKA UI researchers have worked with communities. They have used available scientific and local knowledge to implement appropriate climate change adaptation actions. This has led to enhanced knowledge and awareness through the production of community-based climate change adaptation materials integrating scientific and local expertise, including field demonstrations, videos and posters. Community members and government officials met at a science (p.136) field shop to discuss the research results and their application in policy and practice. This was especially important in light of unpredicted temperatures and rainfall fluctuations that are causing concern for farmers. It also created opportunities to link bottom-up knowledge with top-down support. We learned that advocacy work in promoting science field shops as part of government policies needs to be supported strongly by scientific evidence. Evidence has been based on recent local empirical phenomena familiar to farmers and policy makers, and not merely on comparative knowledge and discoveries from elsewhere in the world. Farmers’ own discoveries constituted a significant part of strengthening scientists’ arguments and ideas. (PUSKA UI)
As part of an advocacy strategy on environmental and mining activities in Belu, East Nusa Tenggara, POLGOV supported the affected communities to work with several national NGO networks: indigenous rights (AMAN), environment (WALHI) and anti-mining (JATAM) groups. They found several mechanisms effective in influencing policy, such as using existing local networks – networks of local scientists, local NGOs and local agricultural extension staff. The farmers themselves often played an important role.
The choice of organising a communication forum in the form of a ‘workshop’ instead of a ‘seminar’ was beneficial in bringing evidence-based knowledge to the forum and in providing opportunities for dialogue among all parties. The involvement of knowledge producers themselves from both scientific and farming communities in representing their experience, knowledge and evidence, and in voicing their arguments in the dialogue with policy makers, proved beneficial in influencing the latter’s thinking, knowledge and perspectives. An arena for presenting evidence and discussing arguments is not common in the tradition of ‘top-down’ technology transfer when bureaucrats aim to transfer techniques rather than knowledge. (POLGOV)
(p.137) Another mechanism partners used to influence policy-making processes was to provide a ‘reality check’ or feedback to policy makers about the impacts of existing policies. One of the approaches under this mechanism was to provide empirical evidence about ‘distributive justice’. Partners highlighted the problems, alternatives, opportunities and solutions. For example, by revealing who gets what and how much from the tourism industry in Lembata, communities could highlight the disproportionate burdens and benefits they experienced from tourism every day. When community members asked whether the Lembata district policy on tourism fairly distributed the benefits and burdens, they were asking who the winners and the losers were, thus providing a reality check on the local impact of the policy. The Lembata government issued a district regulation on tourism management to protect local revenue sharing mechanisms. In the melesi case in Southeast Sulawesi, partners collected data and experiences from community members on the use of the government health insurance scheme (BPJS). They then organised a seminar with stakeholders to present the community’s perspective on the implementation of BPJS. The seminar provided empirical evidence about the limitations and challenges of the BPJS policy and how the melesi local system could complement the formal system. (p.138)