The word serasi means “harmony” in many of Indonesia’s languages. The USAID-funded SERASI program, implemented by IRD, is a post-conflict peacebuilding and governance project. During SERASI’s first three years (2008–11), IRD provided small grants and technical assistance to communities in fi ve provinces that were suffering high rates of poverty, inequality, and communal violence. In year four, the program is doing the same in the province of Papua.
SERASI’s work in Papua centers on health, education, and democratic governance. In health, the program provides grants for programs that improve the quality of and access to basic health services. Activities promote healthy behaviors, provide health information, and broaden services for underserved communities. Education grants support activities and organizations that expand quality basic education services to rural indigenous populations. The programs are innovative, communitybased, and primarily non-formal, but all have the potential to be scaled up to a wider target audience. Democratic governance grants support programs that strengthen local leadership. They aim to improve transparency, accountability, governance standards, and community participation, and to protect people’s rights.
Local knowledge and expertise are critical to understanding needs and developing innovative responses. For this reason, all SERASI grants support identifying grassroots solutions to community health, education, and governance problems, and seek to maximize the involvement of all stakeholders in decision-making.
The majority of grants and in-kind support is delivered to—and through— Papuan organizations. These include civil society organizations, faith-based groups, universities and research institutes, and nongovernmental organizations. SERASI’s program officers work directly with the organizations as they continue to develop grants and receive funding. A successful SERASI grantee addresses all three focus areas and objectives, and ideally brings multiple organizations with specific expertise together to address a larger issue.
The organizations and projects receiving funding through SERASI have demonstrated a strategic need, have established community involvement, and can implement their activities within a nine-month period. They have also shown how they will continue their work after SERASI funding ends.
While addressing immediate health, education, and governance needs in Papua, IRD and USAID are working together to increase their understanding of the region’s issues, and identify other potential activities the SERASI model might address in the region.