Impact of the OPK program

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However, a number of studies subsequently revealed that the OPK

program failed to achieve its objective of providing food security for the

poorest sections of society. The fi rst independent assessment of OPK, a

rapid appraisal conducted in fi ve provinces in late 1998, revealed a lack

of effective public information about the program at the local community

level and identifi ed serious shortcomings in the program’s administrative

procedures. Most importantly, it was apparent that the approach that

had been taken to target the benefi ciaries was ineffective since many poor

families were identifi ed in the areas surveyed that were not receiving the

subsidized rice.29

Following widespread criticism of many of the safety net programs during

1999, the government responded with attempts to improve the targeting

procedures and to tighten the eligibility criteria for programs such as OPK.

As outlined earlier, the BKKBN classifi cation was revised to produce two

additional categories of families based on ‘economic’ criteria – KPS ALEK

and KS-1 ALEK.

The reliability of the OPK program’s targeting of the poor was subjected

to scrutiny in a number of analytical studies that appeared over the following

two years. Of particular importance were the papers published by SMERU

researchers that established that the coverage and targeting of the OPK

program was seriously defi cient (Suryahadi et al., 1999; Sumarto et al.,

2000; Sumarto et al., 2001). These studies used panel data from several

rounds of the 100 Village Survey as well as data from the February 2000

SUSENAS Special Module. According to one assessment, an estimated

20.2 million households across Indonesia had received OPK rice during

one six-month period, almost double the number of benefi ciaries recorded

in various offi cial reports (Sumarto et al., 2000: 20). For comparison, see

the fi gures in Irawan (2001: 19–20).

Furthermore, the OPK program’s coverage of poor families – those

in the lowest quintile, defi ned by levels of household expenditure – was

disappointingly low, as only 52.6 per cent of poor families had received

OPK rice (see Table 3.9). Hence type one errors of undercoverage were

high. An unacceptably high level of program leakage or type two error

was also evident, since a signifi cant proportion of the subsidized rice was

received by non-poor families, those in the top four quintiles of household

expenditure levels, and who accounted for about three-quarters of all

recipients. Far from fulfi lling the aims of the program planners, the benefi ts

of the program were spread almost equally between poor and non-poor

families, producing a targeting ratio of 0.92 which is indicative of random

rather than effective targeting.

In sharp contrast, an adjunct food security program distributing cheap

rice to poor families being conducted by the World Food Program in a

limited number of urban localities in Java during 1999–2000, seemed to

have largely overcome the targeting problem. This program contracted

local non-governmental organizations to compile the list of recipients and

execute the regular distribution, under close supervision and monitoring

from World Food Program staff. A fi eld study of this program suggests that

it was successful in delivering the subsidized rice to the poorest and most

needy sections of the community in these areas. The comparison with the

offi cial program is instructive.30

Although the studies of the OPK program drew on data derived from a

limited and early period of the program’s operations, subsequent fi eld-based

observations confi rmed these fi ndings. Several studies conducted in many

different locations all reported that rice continued to be dispersed to a far

larger number of recipients – and hence in much smaller monthly allocations

– than the program guidelines had stipulated (LP3ES and MENPHOR,

2000; Tim Dampak Krisis, 2000; Olken et al., 2001). As a result, when

the offi cial guidelines were released for the 2000 and 2001 OPK program,

program planners appeared to have accepted the overwhelming evidence

of what was occurring in the villages throughout Indonesia as the total

allocations for each recipient had been changed from 20 kg for each family

to a maximum of 20 kg and a minimum of 10 kg.