In late 2014, KSI, the Knowledge Sector Initiative (Indonesia) hosted a research competition inviting proposals to look at cases where local knowledge had been used to influence public policy. There was an overwhelming response to the call with over 500 proposals submitted. We realised that we had hit on an untapped and under-researched area in the knowledge to policy process. We had funds for only ten projects so we chose those carefully from among the very best. They cover a wide range of subject areas and a broad range of cultural groups, political economies, and geographic regions within Indonesia.
In a one-day conference in April 2016, the researchers presented their cases to a broad audience of policy makers, researchers and civil society organisations. They made a compelling case that knowledge does not only come from the scientific studies that are carried out, but that stories of local knowledge that are well documented and well communicated also produce data that policy makers can and indeed need to use for effective implementation of policies. This was acknowledged by the Minister of the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), citing a positive example of the use of local knowledge in road construction in North Sulawesi. A senior bureaucrat at the conference challenged one of the research teams that they did not actually have any data to back up their findings. The team very persuasively made the case that photographs documenting local knowledge are indeed sources of knowledge: each photograph includes many data points that help us understand and communicate local knowledge in ways that can reach policy makers. (p.xii) Other partners pointed towards their use of drama, songs and stories. We realised then that we had an unusual treasure: a set of cases about how local knowledge plays a role in policy processes and how it, with other forms of knowledge, can co-create policy advice. While many policy researchers and academicians note the importance of other forms of knowledge in policy processes, little has been written with actual case material, particularly in Indonesia. Hence this volume.
We are deeply indebted to the researchers and institutions who developed the cases and engaged in dialogue about them. We thank the teams from PIKUL in East Nusa Tenggara; Poros Photo, for its work in East Nusa Tenggara; PUSKA-UI, the Centre for the Study of Anthropology at the University of Indonesia, for their study in West Nusa Tenggara and West Java; PATTIRO, the Centre for Regional Studies and Information, in Central Maluku; LK3, the Institute for Islamic and Society Studies, in South Kalimantan; BIGS, the Bandung Institute for Governance Studies, for their work in Central Java; PKPM, Centre for Education and Community Studies, in Aceh; YKU, the Foundation for People’s Welfare, in Aceh; POLGOV-UGM, the Research Centre for Politics and Government at the University of Gadjah Mada, for their work in East Nusa Tenggara; and LAHA, the Institute for HIV/AIDS Advocacy, working in Southeast Sulawesi.
We especially want to thank the communities and government agencies with whom our partners engaged to complete their studies on the efforts made by those communities and government agencies to influence public policy. The process of writing the book was greatly facilitated by the clarity and level of detail in the cases that allowed us to identify the issues we present in the chapters.
We are also indebted to the participants in the conference where the researchers presented their findings. It was their interest and their responses that triggered the idea that these cases warranted more analysis and a much wider audience. We hope that our book can trigger more funding and support for looking at how all forms of knowledge can co-create better policies in support of social development, and that public officials at the national and subnational level can better appreciate citizen-generated knowledge.
(p.xiii) We would be remiss if we did not also express our sincere appreciation for support from Bappenas and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Government of Australia, who together guided the KSI project and encouraged the idea of this grant scheme and this book. And of course, we thank RTI International, the implementers of the KSI project for their support in the endeavour. We are grateful to the three anonymous reviewers whose comments improved the manuscript in important ways. Last, but not least, we thank the editorial team at Policy Press for their encouragement and support. All remaining errors are our own.
KN, FC, HA
Bangkok, Ottawa, Jakarta