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    North Buton District in evaluator's angle

    Mr. Lukas Bayu Setyatmoko of Perspektif Institut conducted independent evaluation (strategic review) for IDRAP's project on "Awareness Campaign on Money Politics and Basic Human Rights". The evaluation lasted from 19 till 28 September 2010 by visiting several targeted villages in North Buton. He has made an independent conclusion based on his field assesment and findings. The following is his opinion made in his report.

    Geographical Condition

    North Buton is situated in Buton Island, with its capital city (de facto), the Ereke District. North Buton is a new blooming area, which previously was part of the Muna District. Ferry/Boat is the only available transportation that could be taken if we want to reach the North Buton; with an approximate 5-6 hour trip from the capital city of Southeast Sulawesi, Kendari. The length of the trip to the North Buton, however, might vary depending as well on the weather situation, that is the ocean wave. According to local practice regarding the weather cycle, big waves take place between May and August. This is the most dangerous time for boats to cross the Banda Sea towards North Buton. Big waves certainly create major disruption for the boats and the fishermen that are out in the sea; the boats can never get near the harbor and the fishermen can not find fish. Between May and August, trip from and to North Buton will be dangerous and troublesome because of the coming big waves. This condition will make the North Buton area even more reclusive and isolated since people can not make their trip from and to the North Buton area.

    Means and Facilities

    Inadequate access pertains not only in transportation field but also in other types of means and facilities, such as in communication, health, lighting/electricity, irrigation, unconnected road between regions, and extra facilities to support education. As access of communication is inadequate, there hasn't been any media developed where link of communication between the isolated villages and communities could be built. However, there is one radio station the people in the area could pick up, that is the RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia), there are 2 BTS for cellular phone communication, namely, Indosat and Telkomsel, which can only be accessed in Ereke, and there is one daily newspaper distributed only in the city.

    There even some villages along the coastal areas where the only possible transportation to reach is by taking small boats; land transportation in this case to travel between the coastal villages is not available. Most of those villages have common condition; they are not powered by electricity, their water resources are limited, and interaction with the outsiders can only be done by sea travelling where hours of trip are undertaken.

    In health field, only one Puskesmas (Community's Health Center) is provided in district city, while in villages most people trust their health problems on the hand of the traditional medicine men/women. Paramedics, like doctors and midwives, are only available in the city and they hardly be found in villages.

    Electricity and water are the same. In this part of the region, it is common to find villages without proper electrical facility. Government, in this regard, with their power company (PLN) has not yet provided sufficient electrical facility for the community; little electrical power channeled in some areas happens to be so badly insufficient that many times the power gone out. Whereas, for areas that have not been introduced to electricity yet, for lighting and power consumption they depend on kerosene, solar power, power-accumulator/battery and even the moonlight at nights. The lighting is so poor that it may affect the quality of the children's study; some of them even have to study outside since their homes are so dark at night, also some production activities that rely on the use of electricity to operate.

    For water provision, the community built the facility on their own with some help from NGOs, this is particularly for the provision of clean water. The local government, in this regard, although they have built a PDAM (state-owned water company) office to manage water distribution to the community, yet the office has not been operated yet. Until today, there have not been many efforts made by the government to provide clean water for the community.

    Education is also an issue in this region. In villages, the highest level of education is only SMP (Secondary/Junior High). For those who continue to Senior High have to go to the city (capital city of Ereke District). The fact is that the quality of school in the village is largely different with that of school in the city; those students continuing their study in the city should face competition with those educated in city schools. Many of them are not even accepted in High School. So far, there has not been any special policy made by the school to accommodate students coming from remote rural areas as well. For those accepted, however, the children should leave their home village and live with their relatives in the city. Unfortunately, some of them end up going back to their home village and leaving their school since they do not feel comfortable living with their relatives in the city,

    Government offices apparently do not provide the expected social services they should be giving to the people since most of the time the office is close. The staffs would not come to the office when the day is raining. With limited public means and facilities and poor performance of the government in serving the people, the community is left with nothing much but to take care themselves and their affairs selectively in their immediate close environment. In addition, the government people will only show up and visit them when local election is approaching.

    Although North Buton is a craggy area, yet plants grow well in it; fruits and vegetables are found many in this island. Other than farming products, fish from the sea in this island also greatly contributes to the community's both consumption and commerce. Fish from Buton is quite famous in Sulawesi because of the freshness and variety, this is largely different compared to fish that coming from other islands. From its main natural products, it reflects what most people in Buton Island do as their primary livelihood; they make living as either farmers or fishermen. Farming and fishing both are performed traditionally by the people since the yields will be used for domestic consumption and for trading in the local market. Although traditionally yielded, natural products in this island are abundant and sufficient to fulfil its people's daily need.

    The Community in Isolation

    So isolated the most part of the North Buton area is, that it may be said as the reason why the community is ignorant and clueless in understanding such political communication. The people receive less information either from the other villages or from competent new resources. All information related to the political condition in the country is obtained by word of mouth, where information is potential to be distorted and manipulated. An example for this, most people do not know what policies the local government has produced, this ignorance however is something that the people are not quite aware of. They do not know that as citizen they have the right to find out about the new policies and services the government provides for their people. This results in poor control of the people towards the performance of the government, if not to say that such control is absent. Being isolated in physical sense is also implying that the government (the policy actors) has freedom to run their region in ways they favor, where their self and group's interest could be accommodated. As freedom as it is, it means they can intentionally keep information from the public regarding the PAD (local income) of North Buton and their APBD (Local Budget)including packet of local regulation.Until today, the people hardly know the actual amount of local income received by the government and to what extent the money has been used for the interest of the public including products of local regulation the local government has made that may directly implicate their life and interests.The government of North Buton district tends to be secretive on the subjects.

    Quoted from independent Evaluation Report
    made by Lukas Bayu Setyatmoko of Perspektif Institute


    Source: IDRAP