Jakarta (ANTARA) - Village Fund has become the main pillar in the development of infrastructure required for supporting economic activities in rural areas, Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration (PDTT) Minister Abdul Halim Iskandar stated.

"Even though the initial distribution of the Village Fund was met with pros and cons, villages have gradually managed to demonstrate their capability of managing the fund," he noted in a statement received in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Iskandar made the statement while attending a scientific dialogue with the academic community at Peking University, China, on Monday (October 16).

Minister Iskandar noted that the Village Fund had been instrumental for constructing various essential infrastructure in villages, such as roads, bridges, markets, boat moorings, retention ponds, and irrigation canals.

The Village Fund has also been helping the activities of village-owned enterprises (BUMDes), he noted.

He remarked that during the 2015-2023 period, the government had distributed the Village Fund to improve the quality of life of rural communities, including by assisting villages in building sports facilities, toilets, drainage, integrated health posts (posyandu), village maternity centers (polindes), and wells.

The minister further noted that the fund had also been utilized for supporting early childhood education (PAUD) in villages.

During the dialogue, he also showcased the government's Rural Development Index (IDM) that groups villages into independent, developed, developing, underdeveloped, and very underdeveloped villages.

He noted that based on the 2023 IDM, the number of independent villages increased to 11,456, from 6,238 in 2022, while the number of developed villages rose to 23,035, an increase of 2,786 as compared to last year.

Meanwhile, the number of developing villages declined, from 33,902 in 2022, to 28,766 this year. Moreover, Indonesia is home to only 7,154 underdeveloped villages and 4,850 very underdeveloped villages in 2023.

He also informed academics that the government has been promoting the Village Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) program since 2021. According to the minister, the program aims to build rural communities' awareness of the importance of participating in the efforts to achieve SDGs.

"There is a shift in the keyword of development, from the interests of village apparatus to the problems faced by rural communities. We are focusing on micro data to develop villages," he stated.

Iskandar observed that Indonesian rural communities tend to administer villages by attaching importance to cultural values, traditions, and the principle of collaboration.

"Villages have their own uniqueness that differentiates them from other administrative units," he remarked.

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Translator: Zubi M, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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