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This study assesses the participation of the poor in village decentralisation in Indonesia, under Law No. 6 of 2014 on Villages, through a case study of the Purbalingga District in Central Java Province. The study employs qualitative and descriptive statistical methods, using data collected through observation, questionnaires and interviews. The results indicate that the mechanism established by the Law does not work optimally to enable the poor to participate in the programme. They are less involved in planning; their voices are barely listened to and, consequently, most financed projects are not matched with their needs. Actors, procedures and conditions become the factors hindering participation. Village heads and district officers focus more on administrative reports rather than the quality of participation, while decision-making relies on formal and representative mechanisms that exclude the poor from direct involvement. The unsuccessful distribution of social assistance programmes has been a contributing factor driving the poor to aspire primarily to basic needs programmes. To ensure that decentralisation benefits the poor to the same extent as others, the government should reduce the formality of the village meeting, simplify administration, improve the capacity of village officers and councils, and improve the distribution of social assistance programmes.
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