The Indonesian fishing industry provides a significant portion of fish to the world’s fish market. Recently, however, this industry in Indonesia has been under scrutiny for its poor practices, including slave labor, human trafficking, physical abuse and illegal antibiotics.
Slave Labor in the Indonesian Fishing Industry
Due to the high demand for fish, fishing boats are staying at sea longer, traveling farther and the crews are working more hours each day. To fill these undesirable jobs and cut costs, many companies turned to forced labor. In 2015, a small island in Indonesia, Benjina, was discovered to be housing over 300 slaves for the fishing industry, many of them being Burmese migrant workers.
Since then, thousands of people have been rescued from the island, fishing boats, processing plants and popular fishing port. Afterward, these people told their individual stories of abuse and enslavement. Many were kidnapped or came under false pretenses and kept on Benjina for years, sometimes in cages, with no contact to the outside world. Those placed to work on a boat remained at sea for months at a time, with little access to food and clean water and suffered physical abuse from their supervisors. Others were locked in processing plants for years, forced to work 16-hour shifts uncompensated.
Concerns with Farmed Fish
Farmed fish can often be a good alternative to wild-caught ones because it reduces the amount of fishing necessary to meet market demands and allows the fish populations to recover from overfishing, but there are still many concerns associated with it. Farmed fish are fed fish meal made from wild-caught fish. This means that purchasing a farm-raised fish may still mean supporting slave labor earlier in the production line.
Antibiotic use is also a serious concern in many regions in the Indonesian fishing industry. In the country, shrimp farming is a particularly popular type of aquaculture. A significant portion of U.S. shrimp imports comes from Indonesian farms. Many antibiotics are used by Indonesian shrimp farmers that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Issues with traceability and low levels of chemical testing during customs allow for many of these contaminated shrimp to enter the country and stock supermarket shelves.
Technology Changing Farming Practices
An Indonesian tech company, eFishery, is working towards improving the Indonesian fishing industry. The company aims to introduce new technologies that will improve farming conditions, take pressure off fishing and reduce the need for harmful antibiotics in aquaculture. They are the sole producers of a “smart fish feeder”, an app that times scheduled feeds so that farmers can monitor their farms on a mobile device. Overfeeding is common practice in aquaculture around the world, and this device can save farmers 21 percent in food costs.
They also work to promote direct farm to consumer sales through an online marketplace. By removing wholesalers from the distribution chain, farmers receive more money for their product and are able to increase wages for workers. Additionally, this improves transparency so the consumer knows exactly where their fish came from, how it was produced, and when it was harvested, eliminating health concerns such as antibiotic use and freshness.
Companies like eFishery are using technologies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of aquaculture. Consumers benefit from fair market prices and more information about the fish, while farmers receive a higher percentage of the profit for their product and cut extraneous costs.
At the same time, there is less need for harmful overfishing practices that have decimated wild fish populations and formed a culture of slave labor and abuse. This sort of technology has the potential to transform the Indonesian fishing industry and improve the lives of those who work in it.
– Georgia Orenstein
Just when one might think that impoverished people are facing enough difficulties, they become enlightened about other tragedies that make life more dismal for these people. According to Britain’s Overseas Development Institute, there is an overlap between countries already facing extreme poverty and countries that are more likely to be devastated by natural disasters.
Fortunately enough, this combination has occurred before so future governments and organizations will know what to do when such tragedies strike again. Countries have recovered. There is hope that these other countries will not face travesty forever. In the text below, some cases of natural disasters and impoverished countries who were able to recover are presented.
In 2008, Myanmar was struck by Cyclone Nargis that left a total of 138,000 people either dead or missing. Cyclones are not the only natural disaster that Myanmar is prone to. Earthquakes, floods, droughts, tsunamis and landslides also affect the country. Since 2012, climate change has affected the country greatly.
The organization Give2Asia has been present in Myanmar in previous years. Give2Asia is a network of charitable communities from over 25 countries throughout the continent. Their work in the country consists of breaking down the components that affect Myanmar’s economy and people the most and improving the situation in these fields.
The population most affected by natural disasters are the urban and rural poor, the agriculture population and communities that live on the coasts. The Give2Asia states that poverty is both the cause and result of natural disasters. Majority of the population depends on agriculture and fishing livelihoods to survive, so when a natural disaster hits and destroys all of their hard work, it is understandable that this cycle continues.
Because of this, many nongovernmental organizations and the Myanmar government began implementing disaster and risk reduction measures. Some of the measures are as following: early warning systems, adapting agriculture to climate change and creating disaster-proof buildings.
An example of an organization that has helped Myanmar in the past is Ar Yone Oo (AYO), that was put together shortly after Cyclone Nargis. The group targeted vulnerable and poor areas of Myanmar that were affected. After helping in the aftermath of Nargis, the group stressed the importance of implementing educational programs in poor communities aimed at learning these people what to do in the face of disaster. AYO was able to increase emergency preparedness in two townships as well as the entire Chin state of Myanmar.
Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004
The tsunami of 2004 affected 10 countries in South Asia. The death toll was over 200,000, over a million people were injured, and tens of millions of people were displaced. Relief Web calls this natural disaster “the single biggest challenge ever faced” by international aid, especially from nongovernmental organizations. This tsunami was an example of how natural disasters and impoverished countries are often connected.
Australian nongovernmental organizations and aid were able to prevent the suspected second wave of death, usually caused by disease, due to their quick response time and ability to provide clean water to the injured. By June 2005, Australia had committed and spent around $34 million on disaster relief in Indonesia alone. Australian organizations such as the Australian sectors of Red Cross, CARE, Caritas, Oxfam and World Vision were all publicly funded by the country and gave further aid to the affected countries. Due to this grand effort by just one continent, reconstruction was possible. The organizations consulted local communities on how they wanted to be restored so that the communities could build back better.
Work of the Indonesian Government
The Indonesian government also valued community input, which was a bold step at the time. Because they prioritized what the people wanted, they were able to create jobs and homes for the community and lessen the poverty rate. The government created programs that aimed to provide the best recovery for the whole population.
The Indonesian Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (also called BRR in the country) was a group that worked for four years to rebuild Indonesia, specifically Aceh. During this time, the organization constructed over 140,000 houses, 4,000 kilometers of roads, 1,700 schools, 1,100 health facilities and 13 airports. Not only that, but the organization provided jobs for 40,000 teachers and gave out 7,000 fishing boats. Through caring for the livelihoods in the communities, this and other organizations were able to help these countries recover.
These stories are important to remember when looking to the future of disaster recovery and how to help already impoverished countries. By looking at the correlation between natural disasters and impoverished countries, and seeing what can be done to prevent total devastation, the terrifying future of repeated natural disasters might not be as bad predicted. Other countries can learn from the nongovernmental organizations in these cases, as well as Australia’s incredible effort.
– Miranda Garbaciak
Each year, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) publishes the World Giving Index, highlighting the most generous countries in the world pertaining to how they respond to polls and research conducted by Gallup.
According to the 2018 Index, the most important questions were: In the past month, have you helped a stranger or someone you didn’t know who needed help? Donated money to a charity? Volunteered your time to an organization?
Top Five Most Generous Countries in the World
CAF tallies the scores and produces rankings for each. In the article below, CAF’s top five most generous countries in 2018 are presented.
The Irish received high marks in helping a stranger and donating money, as 64 percent of pollsters saying yes to doing both in the last month, but only 40 percent affirmed that they had volunteered their time, bringing them down to fifth.
This ranking marks a three-spot improvement from 2017’s World Giving Index when the country came in at number eight.
Another interesting aspect of charity and giving in Ireland is the Charities Regulator organization. Under Ireland’s Charities Act 2009, the organization is an independent authority, appointed by the Minister of Justice whose key functions are to “establish and maintain a register of charitable organizations operating in Ireland and ensure their compliance with the Charities Acts.”
The Charities Regulator regulates the charity sector to ensure no malpractice or gross negligence on part of the charities and nonprofits operating in the country.
4. United States of America
The U.S. comes in at number four this year, a one spot improvement from last year’s index. Similar to Ireland, the U.S. received high marks in the helping a stranger and donating money categories, at 72 percent and 61 percent respectively. However, only a mere 39 percent of people said they volunteered their time.
Though the U.S. comes in at number four this year, they are number two on CAF’s five-year average list.
It’s important to note that only around 1 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign assistance, so even though the citizens of the country should be proud of themselves, there is still a lot of work to do to alleviate poverty around the world.
3. New Zealand
Coming in at number three on the list of the most generous countries in the world is an island country in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand. This is a one-spot bump for New Zealand from landing at fourth in 2017.
Over 65 percent of New Zealanders say they helped a stranger in the past month, while 68 percent donated money. Only 40 percent of New Zealand’s population mentions volunteering their time. New Zealand comes in at number three in CAF’s five-year average index as well.
The runner-up on the list of most generous countries in the world is New Zealand’s neighbor, Australia. Almost 65 percent of people from the country helped out a stranger, 71 percent donated money and 40 percent of them donated their time.
The number two spot represents a four-spot jump for the country from 2017. Like the other nations on the list, Australia is ranked in the top ten for the five-year average index as well, landing in the number four spot behind their neighbor, New Zealand.
Like Ireland, Australia has an organization devoted to monitoring and aiding charities and nonprofits called the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
Unlike Ireland’s Charities Regulator, however, the ACNC is endorsed and operates under the Australian government.
The ACNC helps the 56,650 registered Australian charities understand and meet their obligations to the public through information, advice and guidance. They also help the public understand the work of the nonprofit sector and offer a free searchable database of all Australian charities.
While only 46 percent of Indonesian residents say they helped a stranger in the last month, a whopping 78 percent say they donated money and 53 percent say they volunteered their time, making Indonesia the only country in CAF’s top 20 to break the 50 percent mark in this category.
The number one spot represents a one-spot raise from last year’s rankings where the country was number two, behind only Myanmar. Indonesia ranks seventh in the index’s five-year average.
It could be expected to see countries like the United States and Australia toward the top of the list. These countries are quite wealthy, but perhaps the most astonishing thing about Indonesia coming in number one is that the country is quite poor. Despite having a steady economy and labor force, 40 percent of the country lives below the poverty line, making their number one ranking even more impressive and inspiring.
These five nations listed in the article as the most generous countries provide a good example for other countries to increase their work in helping the people in need and eradicating world poverty.
– Nick Hodges
In a country that is spread to more than 13,000 islands in the southern part of Asia, Indonesia has a population of roughly 267 million people. This makes Indonesia the fourth most populated country in the world.
Of these 267 million, an estimated 10 percent found themselves living in poverty throughout the country in 2017. With the hopeful expansion for opportunities for economic growth, this article presents the top 10 facts about living conditions in Indonesia, the country that lies in the area of active volcanos.
Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Indonesia
- Indonesia sits on what Johnny Cash refers to as the “burning ring of fire” of the Pacific that is responsible for 90 percent of the Earth’s earthquakes. Due to its 127 active volcanos, Indonesia falls victim to many earthquakes and other natural disasters stemming from the natural phenomenon. Since 2004, there have been 13 reported earthquakes that have caused irreparable damage to Indonesia’s infrastructure and took the lives of thousands of people.
- A known side effect of Indonesia’s earthquakes are the tsunamis that inevitably follow. These tsunamis are making the country’s coastlines barely inhabitable. In September 2018, the latest tsunami struck Indonesia and claimed the lives of over 1,500 people, according to CBS. In addition, Indonesia experiences a period of harsh rainfall for a couple of months each year which leads to damaging floods and landslides in some parts of the country.
- Indonesia has an unusually high life expectancy rate of 71 years. This number was much lower in the past but thanks to government-funded health programs for the poor, 111.6 million people now have access to health care. The government isn’t stopping at this number either and they predict that in 2019, 95 percent of the population will be enrolled in the health program making it universally accessible.
- Indonesia is classified as a lower-middle-class country. However, like in most world countries today, there is large income disparity between the very poor and the very wealthy. While the top 20 percent of the population has a food budget of up to $100 dollars a day, people of lower income are living off on less than $1 a day.
- The country lacks access to food. Due to its coastal environment, transportation is scarcely limited which affects Indonesia’s ability to access goods such as food staples. Rice is one such staple that Indonesians depend on for meals but the price of it has risen up to 70 percent higher in comparison to other nearby countries making it inaccessible to low-income households.
- Malnutrition is a huge problem among Indonesia’s children due to the lack of a well-rounded diet caused by rising food prices. An estimated 37 percent of children aged 5 years or younger are stunted in growth. This causes them to develop serious health problems later in life as a result. In children 15 and older, obesity is becoming more common because of nutritional deficiencies.
- Over the last few years, many of Indonesia’s leaders have dedicated initiatives to combat the poverty problem in the country. In 2014, the number of funds dedicated to decreasing the income inequality in Indonesia was increased by 2 percent and focused on education and health programs. From 2015 to 2018, leaders increased the budget again from 9 to 12.8 percent and aimed it toward Indonesia’s infrastructure.
- One of Indonesia’s many projects targeting changes in the country’s infrastructure is aimed at connecting its many islands and bringing the country into the 21st century. The country hopes to provide internet to people in rural and urban areas alike by extending a cable underwater. This initiative could have a profound effect on the literacy and education rate in Indonesia and can be another step closer to poverty eradication in Indonesia.
- Indonesia sets 20 percent of its annual budget aside for education expenses, but money doesn’t always equal the education. An overwhelming amount of children in Indonesia lack some of the fundamental education skills like reading, math and science needed to be successful in life.
- Lack of clean water and inefficient sanitation is also a big problem in Indonesia. UNICEF reports that one in eight households do not have access to clean water that has been linked to the high number of deaths caused by diarrhea. Lack of proper sanitation facilities has led to 29 percent of people in rural areas defecating in public.
In recent years Indonesia has proven to be very successful in poverty reduction. This was done by improving the infrastructure and closing the gap in income inequality by connecting the country’s islands. The top 10 facts about living conditions in Indonesia presented above prove it.
The only thing that seems to be in the way of Indonesia’s success for unity and poverty reduction is the towering threat of natural disasters. While money is being allocated to assist the poor, progress is being swept away by its frequent natural disasters that add to the rate of poverty in the country.
– Catherine Wilson
On September 28, 2018, the poverty-riddled country of Indonesia experienced a deadly natural disaster. A 7.5 earthquake followed by a tsunami that produced waves of up to 6 meters tall hit the city of Palu killing hundreds. As search efforts to find survivors continued, many news outlets have called into question the effectiveness of Indonesia’s early disaster warning system.
The Tsunami in Indonesia
BBC News reported that a system of 21 buoys used to trigger the warning system based off of the data that they receive was inactive during the time of the tsunami. Gifted to Indonesia by a few generous countries after the last natural disaster, the buoys had either been vandalized or stolen. With a strict budget in place, Indonesia hasn’t been able to afford the cost of replacing the buoys or maintaining the remaining system they currently have in place. As a result of the unreliable warnings in regards to the size of the waves, many have perished.
When a natural disaster hits a country that already has problems with its infrastructure due to poverty, like Indonesia, it often causes far more deaths and inflicts a lot more damage. BBC News compared similar natural disasters in three countries and found that impoverished areas are more susceptible to the effects of natural disasters.
The Hurricanes in Puerto Rico
In 2017 Puerto Rico suffered back to back hurricanes that left the country with even fewer resources than it had before. With 40 percent of its population living below the poverty line, the ailing country was already crippled by debt, experiencing a lack of electricity and facing school shutdowns. Given the state of Puerto Rico’s poverty crisis prior to the disaster, the country was ill-prepared for the effect the hurricane would have on its crumbling infrastructure.
Puerto Rico’s disaster relief efforts have been both challenging and expensive given its previous state of affairs. The U.S. has offered $2 billion to fix Puerto Rico’s electric grid, but in order to fix the damage done before and after the hurricane, it would take $17 billion. Further financial resources would have to be given to restore Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and help it to withstand natural disaster threats in the future.
The Earthquake in Haiti
Before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake disrupted Haiti back in 2010, 72.1 percent of the Haitian population was living on $2 a day in cities with poorly constructed cramped housing. Dwindling funds in Haiti were met with cost-cutting measures that led to faulty building codes. The soil-based land on which Port au Prince was built was at the epicenter of the earthquake, which also contributed to the city’s imminent collapse. With a stronger magnitude earthquake than Haiti, China lost 87.5 thousand people while Haiti lost 230 thousand citizens.
The earthquake in Haiti made quick work of the poverty-stricken area of Port au Prince. Haiti received $13.5 billion in aid relief after the earthquake, but with the money, came the unforeseen side effect of disease. After stationing soldiers on the ground to provide relief after the earthquake, toxic waste was spilled into a Haitian river causing a severe outbreak of Cholera which has killed an additional 9,000 people over the last four years. Additional relief funds will need to be provided to treat the epidemic.
When natural disasters strike areas that have been weakened by poverty, it leads to more damage, more lives lost and far more money needed to fix the situation. In many of these instances, measures could have been taken to prevent mass casualties, especially in areas where natural disasters pose a significant threat. Investing in long-term infrastructure solutions and natural disaster prevention instead of just throwing funds at a problem for an immediate fix in poverty prone areas will save more lives.
– Catherine Wilson
On August 5, 2018, in Loloan, Indonesia, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the Indonesia archipelago. According to initial reports, the quake was more than nineteen miles deep. At least 91 people were killed, more than 200 were injured and countless more were missing. Thousands have been displaced, living in makeshift camps and temporary shelters. The effects of the Indonesian earthquake are extensive and will further hamper the nation’s ability to alleviate its problems relating to poverty.
A Brief History of Indonesia
Indonesia began working towards its independence in 1945 after the end of World War Two. However, its independence wasn’t formally recognized until 1949 (Indonesia had been a colony of the Netherlands). Later, in 1968, Indonesia experienced an internal revolution when a pro-United States government was established.
Indonesia’s economy was hit the hardest during the 1997 Asian market financial crisis. This was, in part, due to the extensiveness of Indonesia in foreign trade; Indonesia regularly traded (and continues to do so) with The United States, China, Japan, Australia, and Europe.
in recent years, Indonesia has made significant improvements in its economy and its battle with poverty, cutting its poverty level in half over the last twenty years. While this is impressive and should not be easily dismissed, it is not as positive as it sounds. In a country with over 250 million residents, about 28 million still live at or below the poverty line. Job creation, lack of basic services, and a high mortality rate for newborns still affect the largest economy in Southeast Asia.
Earthquake Response in 2004 and 2018
The 2004 earthquake and tsunami had a greater impact on Indonesian than all the Pacific nations affected by that horrific natural disaster. More than 200,000 Indonesians lost their lives. This cycle of natural disaster and devastation is not new to this area. But this time, the international response had been slightly improved.
The government, with the help of the Multi Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias (MDF), concentrated its efforts on rebuilding infrastructure in Indonesia, so the basic essential resources can be accessed. It also worked to repair or rebuild roads to hospitals and schools so they could continue in their duties of caring for and educating the populace.
Unfortunately, this 2018 earthquake will only slow the efforts made by Indonesia at eliminating its poverty-related problems. In order to lessen the effects of the Indonesian earthquake, The United States (along with its allies and other developed nations) should partner with international agencies and nongovernmental organizations in sending international aid and resources to Indonesia, specifically the areas where the earthquake had the highest impact.
The leading nations of our planet could help Indonesia recover from this terrible event, by investing in up-to-date infrastructure and detection equipment. The international community could also rebuild hospitals and schools with the most up-to-date technology, services and equipment.
History shows us that this is an earthquake-prone area of the South Pacific, and measures need to be taken immediately in order to limit the impact of the next natural disaster that impacts this area. The international community could use this unfortunate opportunity to help eradicate poverty in the Indonesian archipelago once and for all. Now is the time to act.
– Raymond Terry
Indonesia is a country that has made great strides in combating hunger. This Southeast Asian country consists of hundreds of volcanic islands, making it prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Government programs have given resources to those who need help, and there are many positives in the list of top 10 facts about hunger in Indonesia.
Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Indonesia
- Although the percentage of people enrolled in primary schools has increased to nearly 100 percent in urban areas, this number remained below 60 percent in rural areas of Indonesia. Food programs are offered in some primary schools, and in 2017, Indonesia established the Indonesia School Meals Programme (Pro-GAS) to provide healthy breakfasts to 100,000 children in 11 districts in the country.
- The rate of poverty in Indonesia has been steadily decreasing, from 24 percent of the population experiencing poverty, down to 11.3 percent in 2014. However, 43.5 percent of the population still lives on less than $2 per day.
- The rate of proper nutrition has somewhat stagnated since 2007, with stunting rates of 37 percent nationally, according to UNICEF. Stunting is the impaired development and growth of children resulting from malnutrition. The Government of Indonesia is well aware of the health concerns associated with stunting, as the vice president of the country enacted a National Strategy to Accelerate Stunting Prevention in 2017. The strategy will pledge $14.6 billion to converge priority nutrition interventions that include food insecurity measurements, dietary diversity and basic immunization.
- Despite this, the availability of fruits and vegetables almost doubled from 1990 to 2013. This jump in production can partly be accredited by the government program known as Good Agricultural Practices or Indo-GAP. The program gives farmers better education on safe and effective agricultural methods, while also providing resources like land and fertilizer.
- Stunting caused by malnutrition also has an impact on Indonesia’s GDP, resulting in a 2-3 percent loss on the economy. Children who grow up with stunting are less likely to be properly educated, less likely to work in skilled labor, as well as having lower income attainment. These factors of undernutrition affect the economy because of the overall loss in productivity.
- Fluctuating food prices have also contributed to hunger in Indonesia. It is estimated that the food inflation rate increased by 12.77 percent from 1997 to 2018. This can be attributed to rising energy costs, with energy prices rising 28 percent between 2008 and 2011. Agriculture commodity prices rose 17 percent from 2008 to 2011 as well. While higher food prices allow farmers to make more profits, it negatively affects people living in poverty who rely on low food prices.
- Indonesia’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), pledged at the United Nations summit in 2000, were a committed global partnership in fighting global poverty and hunger with a deadline of 2015. Indonesia achieved its number one goal of halving the number of people living in hunger between 1990-2015. The prevalence of undernourishment decreased from 19.7 percent in 1990-1992, to 7.6 percent in 2014-2016.
- Indonesia is prone to natural disasters as it is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Earthquakes are common due to a high degree of tectonic activity. Volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and floods also affect the country. A 6.9 magnitude earthquake in the city of Lombok in August 2018 resulted in 565 casualties. Calamities like this lead to hunger as food security and land are destroyed in the process.
- Indonesia’s government National Medium-Term Development Plan was established in 2015, with the goal of improving nutrition and the quality of food, as well as reducing the negative effects natural disasters have on food security. The long-term goal of the program is to help 9 million people achieve food security by 2020.
- One of the government subsidy programs that has been beneficial in addressing hunger is Raskin, a program established in 1998 that allows low-income families to purchase 15kg of rice at 20 percent of the market price. In 2012, the budget for Raskin was $1.5 billion with a targeted population of 17.5 million households.
While there is still room for improvement, Indonesia has taken the necessary steps to address and take action in reducing county in the country. The Government of Indonesia has been a great supporter of the country’s efforts.
– Casey Geier
The sovereign archipelago of Indonesia is on track to rapid urbanization; in fact, it is the largest country in Southeast Asia, the world’s third most populous democracy and is ranked 16th in GDP. Indonesia also happens to possess the sixth worst inequality of wealth in the world. The nation’s boom in economic viability has been beneficial for some, but Indonesia still persists as a developing country marked by profound wage disparity. The following facts about poverty in Indonesia offer insight on the various forces surrounding the country’s income inequality.
Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Indonesia
- The statistics. Indonesia has a population of 261 million; of those, 28 million citizens live below the poverty line, with approximately 10 percent of the population making significantly less than the median income.
- Hope in relativity. These statistics may seem indomitable, but poverty in Indonesia has been cut by more than half since 1999. The country has proactively worked on addressing relative poverty — those that generate less than the median income — with the brunt now lying in absolute poverty (those that live below the poverty line). The alleviation of Indonesia’s poorest is more challenging, as they are frequently moored to rural environments that lack proper support.
- Rural poverty. Indonesia’s rural communities are typically much poorer than the urban ones, with poverty rates ranging from 13.2 percent to a startling 29.15 percent. Rural poverty focuses on just subsistence, but even this becomes difficult without infrastructure. The people living in these isolated villages often lack access to healthcare, markets and agricultural extension services, and are not equipped with the vocational training needed to succeed in urban communities.
- Urban poverty. Poverty reduction efforts can be seen most in urban hubs. In the last year alone, the urban poverty rate improved from 7.72 percent to 7.02 percent. Unequal dispersion of wealth remains starkly apparent in the cities, but momentum continues today with World Bank’s National Slum Upgrading Program (KOTAKU) bettering the lives of more than 9.7 million of Indonesia’s urban poor. KOTAKU accomplishes such a feat by actively improving city infrastructure.
- Health access. Nonpartisan groups are currently working to provide mobile clinics and health training to the areas that need it the most. Comprehensive access to healthcare is hopefully on the horizon, as Indonesia launched an ambitious single-payer healthcare program in 2014. The program intends to offer coverage to every Indonesian by 2019.
- Lack of education reinforces the poverty cycle. Education in Indonesia has steadily increased in accessibility, but rural districts are typically limited to one public primary school with a rare secondary school. Net enrollment in such areas remains below 60 percent; moreover, the quality of education offered often suffers from politicisation and unqualified teachers, allowing little opportunity for meritocratic mobility.
- Children in poverty. Children comprise about 30 percent of Indonesia’s population. As dependents, they are one of the most vulnerable demographics in society. Indonesia has made strides in protecting their basic rights and needs, including cutting the child mortality rate in half and implementing child-focused resources, such as the Family Hope Program.
- Food instability. Protectionist food policies leave the country’s poor vulnerable to domestic price hikes. Due to food import quota, licensing and tariff activity, up to 70 percent of an Indonesian household’s income ends up being spent on food alone. In times of duress, such as escalated rice prices in 2015, the poor risk malnutrition while those marginally above the poverty line end up falling below it.
- Gender inequality. Women in Indonesia are statistically rated with a lower life expectancy, education and per capita income than Indonesian men. Despite this, women-led enterprises not only contribute 10 percent of Indonesia’s GDP, but they also reduce the volatility of local economic downturns. Gender equity and poverty reduction are critically linked.
- Solutions. President Joko Widodo continues to address poverty in Indonesia by channeling welfare aid to targeted households. Affordable Food for the Poor, launched in 2015 by CIPS, focuses on the long-term by publicising policy recommendations on food security. With the development of sustainable infrastructure, better access to a competitive education system and steps towards gender equity, regional and entrepreneurial gaps will fill and bring forth a more prosperous people.
Potential for Growth
These top 10 facts about poverty in Indonesia provide a salient foothold into the country’s current state. Indonesia is projected for great growth and under the right dispersion of assets, national poverty reduction efforts can continue to succeed.
– Yumi Wilson
Western media often sensationalizes stereotypes of Asian countries including one of the most diverse and beautiful scenic spots in the world, Indonesia. There is a tendency to depict it as a poor, uneducated country with Islamic extremists and rising cases of drug trafficking: that’s how the media misrepresents Indonesia. What the media does not highlight is the economic growth the country has made and consistent efforts by the government to ensure that the rest of the world sees the country differently from what the media depicts it to be.
Media Misrepresents Indonesia and its People
The media misrepresents Indonesia by showing poor children on the streets with no shelter and no food. Although 10.2 percent of Indonesia’s population lives in poverty, it is a generalization to call it a poor nation. It is worth noting that Indonesia has the highest middle class in Southeast Asia and “the average disposable income is expected to increase 3-5 percent annually.” The Indonesian government has made it a goal to focus on the issue so that the country can achieve less than 10 percent poverty rate.
Furthermore, the media highlights the presence of only uneducated people who do not have access to quality education. The country’s government has proved its commitment to educating its people, specifically in the last few years, spending significantly on education. The number of high school students has doubled in the last five years. In fact, all Indonesian kids are required to have at least nine years of compulsory education, and therefore more students are going to university.
Highlighting Terrorism in Indonesia
The media often portrays Indonesia as a conservative, traditional Islamic country. While we only see stories of ISIS members and the actions of extremists, 87 percent of Indonesia’s population is Muslim and the majority of them wants the rest of the world to know that the actions of a small percentage of extremists do not represent all Indonesian Muslims. In fact, most people are not aware that, by law, Indonesia is a secular state. In other words, Indonesia is not even an Islamic country: it just holds the largest amount of Muslims in the world.
Western media also neglects the progress Indonesia’s people are making to combat stereotypes. For example, in 2014, a group of Muslim girls formed a heavy metal band called Voice of Baceprot to show the world that they can wear the hijab (Islamic headscarf) while expressing their individuality. Firdda Kurnia, a member of the band adds, “I think gender equality should be supported because I feel I am still exploring my creativity, while at the same time, not diminishing my obligations as a Muslim woman.”
There is a clear disconnect between Indonesia and the western media. When the media covers the country, there is an obsession with feeding stereotypes. News reports fail to mention the efforts of the government in raising the standard of living and promoting their culture or that it is a country whose national motto is “Unity in Diversity.”
– Emma Martin
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