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News & Blog > Blogs: "Perspectives, Provocations & Initiatives" > Lessons from Indonesia: Rampant Corruption in Village Governance

Lessons from Indonesia: Rampant Corruption in Village Governance

Egi Primayogha (MADev16) investigates how widespread corruption threatens Indonesia's promising village development initiatives. Which has major affects on improving the quality of human life.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seberang_Pebayan_Village,_Padang_2017-02-14.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seberang_Pebayan_Village,_Padang_2017-02-14.jpg

Corruption is defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain[1]. In terms of village corruption, the perpetrators generally engage in corrupt practises to enrich themselves, their social groups, or to fund village head elections[2].

According to Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), corruption plagues the planning, implementation, and evaluation processes in Indonesian village governance. There were at least 682 corruption cases regarding village governance from 2016 to 2022. These alleged corruption cases involved 959 people and could cost the state up to IDR 770.5 billion[3].

Village corruption has been increasing every year:

Several actors are alleged to be involved in village corruption cases. The main perpetrators, however, are village heads and village officials. Out of 252 suspects, 174 village heads and 77 village officials were allegedly involved in corrupt practises in 2022 alone.

Causes of corruption: huge budgets to lack of oversight.

As the statistics show, village corruption in Indonesia is rampant. This widespread corruption is mainly caused by the large annual amounts of village funds allocated from the national budget for village development, as well as the absence of adequate public oversight of village governance.

Since 2015, the Indonesian central government has distributed village funds to each of Indonesia's 74,961 villages[4]. The distribution of village funds is mandated by the Indonesia’s Village Law (Law No. 6/2014 on Villages) to improve village development[5].

Village Law is a relatively new law that aims to integrate community-driven development ideas into formal governance institutions[6] by guaranteeing openness, participation, and accountability for citizens’

The amount of village funds distributed to each village varies between Rp 600 million and Rp 1 billion and rises each year[7] which, combined with the incompetence of the village government and the lack of oversight, provides a tempting atmosphere for opportunists within the government to steal the village funds.

For example, village funds can be used to finance village head elections[2]. Village head candidates may use village funds to commit vote-buying activities by giving money or other materials to voters, or by allocating budgets for specific projects to gain political support from the villagers. This is usually done by incumbent village heads who will run again in the next general election.

Moreover, village corruption is worsened by the lack of oversight from citizens on village governance. Village citizens are unable and unwilling to oversee village governance because they don’t have sufficient information to comprehend village governance, alongside being unaware of their rights and responsibilities in terms of village development[8].

Therefore, it is critical to emphasise the importance of citizen participation in village governance. The citizens, for example, may be motivated to participate in monitoring governance oversight if they understand how village funds are used in village development and the consequences of misappropriation of funds.  

Corruption strangles good initiative.

The Village Law[5] embodies a promising initiative for village development by being a progressive law that challenges the traditional view of villages. Previously considered objects of development, villages are now considered subjects of development. Citizens can now direct their own development, rather than being dictated by decisions made at higher levels of government.

Village law is grounded in the idea of bottom-up development. It states explicitly that principles such as openness, accountability, and participation must be followed while implementing development. Citizens are guaranteed access to information about village development, the ability to actively participate in decision-making, and the ability to hold the village government accountable.

The term "village development" refers to "efforts to improve the quality of life for the greatest benefit of the village community"[5] demonstrating the commitment village law also has to human development. Additionally, the law also seeks to ensure that there is no disparity between national and village development. It is important to address the disparities between urban and rural development since it is one of the roots of poverty. The rural poor, for example, do not have as many options for essential services as their urban counterparts, trapping them in perpetual poverty[9]

Such progressive efforts, however, can be undermined by rampant corruption. Corruption in basic services, for example, is widespread in villages. Corruption has been reported in the construction of public health facilities[10], schools[11] and clean water towers[12] leading to a decline in the quality of services and restrict citizen’s access to basic rights[13].  

Corrupt practises involving natural resources also exist in Indonesian villages. The corruption of protected forests in West Sulawesi Province is one example[14]. It demonstrates that corrupt management of village-owned natural resources will not benefit the village economy and may even result in unending exploitation, resulting in environmental destruction.

These everyday examples of corruption demonstrate that, in the end, corruption will undermine efforts to improve the quality of human life.

What can be done?

There is no single answer to the problem of village corruption. The main impetus, however, is to strengthen citizen oversight of village governance which can be done by ensuring citizens receive access to information and following Village Law which guarantees openness, participation, and accountability giving less opportunity for fraudulent behaviour.

Corruption in villages must be eradicated immediately. If no serious efforts are made to resolve it, the ideal of improving the quality of human life will never be realised.

Follow Egi on LinkedIn and Twitter.


[1]         Transparency International, ‘What is corruption?’, Transparency.org. https://www.transparency.org/en/what-is-corruption (accessed Apr. 21, 2023).

[2]         Kompas Daily, ‘Mantan Kades di Lebak Pakai Dana BLT untuk Kampanye Pilkades’, kompas.id, Nov. 30, 2021. https://www.kompas.id/baca/metro/2021/11/30/mantan-kades-di-lebak-kampanye-pakai-dana-desa (accessed Apr. 21, 2023).

[3]         Indonesia Corruption Watch, ‘Tren Penindakan Kasus Korupsi Tahun 2022 | ICW’, 2023. https://antikorupsi.org/id/tren-penindakan-kasus-korupsi-tahun-2022 (accessed Apr. 10, 2023).

[4]         Ministry of Finance Republic of Indonesia, ‘Membedah Potensi dan Tantangan Dana Desa Tahun 2022’, DJPb | Direktorat Jenderal Perbendaharaan Kementerian Keuangan RI, Jan. 28, 2022. https://djpb.kemenkeu.go.id/portal/id/berita/lainnya/opini/3840-membedah-potensi-dan-tantangan-dana-desa-tahun-2022.html (accessed Apr. 21, 2023).

[5]         The Republic of Indonesia, ‘Law of The Republic of Indonesia, Number 6 of Year 2014 concerning Villages’. Jan. 15, 2014.

[6]         The World Bank, ‘Indonesian Village Governance under the new Village Law (2015-2018)’, Sentinel Villages Report AUS0001377, May 2020.

[7]         Ministry of Village, Development of Disadvantaged Regions And Transmigration Republic of Indonesia, ‘400 Triliun Dana Desa Digelontorkan Sejak 2015, Ini Hasilnya’. https://kemendesa.go.id/berita/view/detil/4227/400-triliun-dana-desa- (accessed Apr. 21, 2023).

[8]         R. Aprilia, E. R. Shauki, and A. Korespondensi, ‘Peran Masyarakat Dalam Pengawasan Dana Desa’, 2020, doi: 10.33105/itrev.v5i1.172.

[9]         Rajif Dri Angga et al., ‘Ketimpangan Perdesaan dan Perkotaan di Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta’. IRE Yogyakarta, May 2017.

[10]       Kompas Cyber Media, ‘Tersandung Kasus Pembangunan Gedung Puskesmas, Kadis Kesehatan Ditahan Kejari Gorontalo Utara’, KOMPAS.com, Nov. 29, 2022. https://regional.kompas.com/read/2022/11/29/134804678/tersandung-kasus-pembangunan-gedung-puskesmas-kadis-kesehatan-ditahan (accessed Apr. 10, 2023).

[11]       Merdeka.com, ‘Diduga Korupsi Rp500 Juta, Seorang Kepala Sekolah di Bengkulu Ditangkap Polisi’, Oct. 04, 2021. https://www.merdeka.com/peristiwa/diduga-korupsi-rp500-juta-seorang-kepala-sekolah-di-bengkulu-ditangkap-polisi.html (accessed Apr. 10, 2023).

[12]       Liputan6.com, ‘Kejari Jember Tahan Kades dan ASN Terduga Korupsi Dana Desa’, Feb. 23, 2023. https://www.liputan6.com/surabaya/read/5215119/kejari-jember-tahan-kades-dan-asn-terduga-korupsi-dana-desa (accessed Apr. 10, 2023).

[13]       Mukodi, ‘Korupsi dan Kebangkrutan Sebuah Bangsa’, LPPM Press STKIP PGRI Pacitan, 2017.

[14]       Antara News Makassar, ‘Kejati tahan tiga tersangka dugaan korupsi alih fungsi hutan di Mamuju’, Antara News Makassar, Jul. 21, 2022. https://makassar.antaranews.com/berita/409669/kejati-tahan-tiga-tersangka-dugaan-korupsi-alih-fungsi-hutan-di-mamuju (accessed Apr. 10, 2023).


This is one of a series of blogs supported by the IDS alumni office and written by current IDS students and PhD Researchers from academic year 2022-2023 Spring Term.

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