"Village funds in the past four years have brought about much change in Lebak. Adequate access and village roads facilitate transport of people and goods," head of village administration development at the District Community Development Service Firman Arif said here on Saturday.
Village funds have been well spent in Lebak in the past four years resulting in improved welfare of the people, Firman said, adding "we have reduced poverty and unemployment."
Many jobs had been created in labor intensive infrastructure projects, as all rural development projects are labor intensive, he said.
Infrastructure development has greatly contributed to improvement of the rural communities in Lebak, previously categorized among the poorest and backward districts in the country, he said.
"For the first time we have well paved roads linking one village with other villages that economic activities are much brisker," he said.
Village funds have also been used to finance corporate body owned by the villages, he said.
"We will help villages to use village funds to help improve the welfare of the villagers in 2019," he said.
He said many villages have lifted themselves from the status of backward villages to developing villages in Lebak.
In 2018, of the total 340 villages in 28 sub-districts in Lebak, four of them are in the category of advanced, 122 in the category of backward and 20 in the category of extremely backward villages.
Funds for rural development in the district Lebak is set at Rp361 billion, including Rp238 billion village fund cost. The fund allocation is smaller than in 2017.
"We are confident in two years Lebak would no longer be in the category of backward and poorest districts," Firman said.
He said all funds allocated for rural development in Lebak has been used.
"We are proud that Lebak is the best among district areas in spending their village funds in Banten and ranked the 25th in the country," he said.
] Chief of the Kadu Rahayu village in the sub-district of Bojongmanik, Asma Sutisna said the village has spent all of its village fund for infrastructure development.
"We are pleased that the fund has been well spent that would result in improved welfare of the villagers," Asma said.
Meanwhile, head of Social Affairs of the Sobang sub-district of Rusli said, there are 10 villages still categorized as backward and isolated including Sindanglaya, Cilebang, Cirompang, Citujah, Hariang, Majasari, Sobang, Sukajaya, Sukamaju and Sukaresmi.
All of the villages are located in the National Park of Gunung Halimun Salak (TNGHS). That area is isolated and backward with poor condition of infrastructure mainly in access to roads, education and health.
Now, however, there is hope for improvement with the village funds available every year. There is already much progress made with improvement in the welfare of the villagers, Rusli said.
"We appreciate the government of President Joko Widodo for the village funds which have resulted in concrete improvement in condition in rural areas," he said.
Reporting by Mansyur, Albert Saragih
Editing by Sri Haryati