Story of Change

Pekalongan’s On-Point Tack in Poverty Reduction

Author: Meita Annissa
Published: 16/09/2021

ImInovasi “Laboratorium Kemiskinan” dan The Poverty Laboratory innovation and use of the SEPAKAT application have contributed to revitalising the palm-sugar producers in the Botosari village.



Since 2018, the Pekalongan District has been conducting a “Poverty Laboratory”, which focuses on data-based poverty reduction. This innovation utilises the SEPAKAT (Integrated Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Analysis System) application developed by Bappenas, KOMPAK, and the World Bank. Accurate reference data have proven effective in maximizing poverty alleviation efforts. In 2020, the Pekalongan District was awarded the Top 45 Public Service Innovation recognition from the Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB).


Tidal flooding has been a constant and recurring nightmare for Timbul Trijaya (43) and his family. Located only one kilometre off the coast, their humble house in Mulyorejo in the Tirto subdistrict of Pekalongan has often been inundated, with water level reaching 50 centimetres. Whenever the water level had reached one metre, Timbul and his neighbours were forced to evacuate to locations provided by the village and sub district governments. Often, it took at least one week, sometimes even one month, for the water to recede.

Living on the breadline, Timbul and his family didn’t have much choice but to remain at their home for nearly two decades. Timbul earned his living as a village apparatus with a wage that barely made ends meet. His wife, Sarofah, was a self-employed seamstress. On top of their basic daily needs, the couple must keep their noses to the grindstone to pay for the education of their three children, who were in kindergarten, elementary school, and high school.

One day, a research team from the Regional Development Planning, Research and Development Agency (Bappeda) visited Timbul’s house to collect data on potential targets for housing rehabilitation. The move was part of the Pekalongan District Government’s Poverty Laboratory program implementation to prioritise social assistance recipients using the SEPAKAT application.

Two months later, Timbul's family received the Rehabilitation of Uninhabitable Houses (RTLH) assistance from the Pekalongan Public Housing, Settlement and Environment District Office. "Ever since we received the RTLH assistance, our house is no longer flooded. It has no more leakage and feels cooler. What’s more, we now have better air circulation. We even have our bathing, washing, and latrine (MCK) facility, which is priceless to our family's health," said Timbul.

The Poverty Laboratory innovation and use of the SEPAKAT application have also contributed to revitalizing the palm-sugar producers in the Botosari village situated in the Paninggaran Subdistrict of Pekalongan.

The prime mover of the group, Diyono (39), was a palm-sugar producer himself and a member of the Joint Business Group (KUBE) of Sustainable Palm Sugar Production (Pagar). Diyono and his wife had long been concerned about fellow palm-sugar producers’ welfare, which never seemed to take a turn for the better. The younger generation was reluctant to become sugar-palm tappers (or nderes in the local language), as they saw no future in it.

The results from the Poverty Laboratory and the SEPAKAT application’s data collection on the issues faced by Diyono and other sugar-palm producers subsequently prompted the Pekalongan District Government to facilitate Diyono and his KUBE Pagar friends [EM1] to participate in the Creative Agro Field Station (SLAK). SLAK is a collaboration program between the Department of Industry, Trade, and Cooperatives (Perindagkop) and the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB). The program provided Diyono and other palm-sugar producers training in processing palm sugar into gula semut, crystal sugar with various flavours.


“We were also taught how to pack properly, which led us to have our brand, Semut Nethes. The District Government then helped us obtain the Home Industry Product Permits (P-IRT) and MUI halal certificates. What’s more, we have learned how to market our products through seminars organized by the Central Java Department of Industry and Trade. As a result, consumers can now buy our products directly in retail stores, including minimarkets and online outlets. Our palm-sugar product’s selling price has soared from Rp.14,000 to Rp.20,000 per kilogram,” explained Diyono.

The Pekalongan District Government initiated the Poverty Laboratory in 2018. The program’s primary goal is to reduce the district’s poverty rate and its impacts, especially fulfilling basic needs and housing. Through the Poverty Laboratory, the District Government collects data from impoverished villages. These data serve as a starting point for exploring the communities’ economic potentials—such as KUBE Pagar with its palm sugar potentials—and possible collaboration among stakeholders.

The Poverty Laboratory was initially implemented in three villages: Botosari, Kertijaya, and Mulyorejo. To streamline the data collection and analysis processes and determine accurate interventions, the Poverty Laboratory utilises the SEPAKAT application (Integrated System of Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Analysis of Poverty). The National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) developed the application in collaboration with KOMPAK and the World Bank.

The development of SEPAKAT stemmed from Bappenas’ intention in 2016 to merge the two applications supporting the poverty reduction programs: the Pro-Poor Planning Budgeting and Monitoring (P3BM) and the Integrated Information System for National Program on Community Empowerment (SIMPADU). In 2017, the World Bank developed a Sub-National Poverty Assessment (SNAPA), piloted in the DKI Jakarta province and Bogor city.

Together with KOMPAK and the World Bank, Bappenas then designed and developed the modules into an application named SEPAKAT. The application consists of features that help regional governments make pro-poor planning, budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation. SEPAKAT provides analytical tools to process poverty data by sector and evaluate poverty issues in an integrated and accurate manner.

The application still provides some space for the Regional Government (Pemda) to determine intervention solution options based on the region’s specific characteristics and needs. This application is designed to adapt to regulations referred to by the provinces/regencies/cities for their development planning following Permendagri No. 90 Year 2019 concerning "Classification, Codification, and Nomenclature of Regional Development Planning and Finance".

The revamping of the database and rapid analysis offered by the SEPAKAT application is expected to improve the regional development planning, budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation quality, enabling regional governments to boost their poverty reduction acceleration efforts.

KOMPAK's role is to provide resources-persons for technical inputs on the application development and training of the Bappenas team assigned for SEPAKAT training activities. Since SEPAKAT’s launch in May 2018, Bappenas has trained 185 regencies/cities and 11 provinces. KOMPAK also assists and monitors the use of SEPAKAT in preparing planning and budgeting documents in several districts.

“KOMPAK provides training on SEPAKAT for Regional Apparatus Organizations (OPD). This application has helped us immensely in discovering and prioritising issues, as well as finding poverty alleviation solutions suitable to our region,” explained Didin Nasruddin (45), Head of Government and Socio-Cultural Affairs, R&D, Bappeda of the Pekalongan District.

Upon mastering the application, Didin went full steam ahead, compiling the Regional Government Work Plan (RKPD) and Regional Poverty Reduction Plan (RPKD) documents. He acknowledged that this data-based approach has helped him zero in on Pekalongan’s poverty-reduction locations, targets, and types of intervention. Accordingly, Bappeda had no trouble locating and assisting people in genuine need, such as Timbul and his family in the Mulyorejo village and the palm-sugar producers in the Botosari village.

After more than two and a half years running, “Poverty Laboratory” has churned out numerous innovations to help reduce poverty in the three target villages. The number of impoverished households in the three villages has lessened from 1,425 to 1,120. Additionally, the Poverty Laboratory has succeeded in cutting the number of uninhabitable houses from 348 to 86.

The Poverty Laboratory innovations have propelled Pekalongan District into winning the Top 45 Public Service Innovation Award from the Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) in 2020. The Ministry deemed the innovation a clear sign of the Pekalongan District Government’s resolve to improve its public service delivery quality.

Throughout 2021, the Pekalongan District Government is expanding the Poverty Laboratory program to cover eight villages. In addition to Mulyorejo and Botosari, the target villages now include Windurojo (Kesesi subdistrict), Gembong (Kandangserang subdistrict), Pedawang (Karanganyar subdistrict), Kertijayan (Buaran sub-district), Jeruksari (Tirto subdistrict), and Kedungwuni (Kedungwuni subdistrict). These villages were selected based on their high incidence of stunting and out-of-school children, as indicated in the Integrated Social Welfare Data (DTKS.

The Poverty Laboratory innovations in these villages range from job training and the provision of work tools, improvement of the RTLH, latrines, clean water supply to caring for out-of-school children and people with disabilities.

“We deliver job training and provide work tools not only to MSMEs but also to low-income productive individuals. In terms of out-of-school children, the interventions include a free-school program and the provision of uniforms, shoes, and stationery. Whereas for people with disabilities, the interventions comprise the provision of wheelchairs, hearing aids, as well as job-training assistance according to the disability types," Didin Nasruddin explained.


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