Corruption in Indonesia
Corruption in Indonesia is present in all three branches of parliament and private business. According to a study conducted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), less than half of the respondents trust the local government, police and private sector. Transparency International identified decentralized decision-making, ambiguous legislation and a weak judicial system as main sources of corruption in Indonesia. Here are 10 facts about corruption in Indonesia.

10 Facts About Corruption in Indonesia

  1. Forbes named the former President of Indonesia one of “the world’s all-time most corrupt leaders.” Mohamed Suharto was President for 31 years in the 20th century. Throughout his reign, others suspect that he embezzled between $15 and 35 billion.
  2. One out of seven citizens pays a bribe for utilities. Bureaucratic corruption increases the average cost of living, which disproportionally impacts the country’s poor. Bribery costs add an additional fee to fundamental health care, education and sanitation services, thus increasing the overall costs and access to these systems. Further, corruption in Indonesia distorts the distribution of government spending and therefore hinders the development of important public projects such as increasing access to clean water.
  3. Approximately thirty percent of firms have suffered extortion while conducting business in Indonesia. Further, several of these firms (13.6 percent) identify corruption in Indonesia as a major obstacle. For firms often have to pay bribes or give gifts to acquire licenses, permits or contracts in order to conduct business. Corruption in Indonesia is a business norm where companies include gifts in total costs.
  4. In the 2019 elections, Parliament member, Bowo Sidik Pangaroso, attempted to buy votes for reelection. Authorities found more than 400,000 envelopes filled with cash in his basement just weeks before the election. Both vote-buying and candidacy-buying are common forms of corruption in Indonesia. The Charta Politika agency surveyed three constituencies about money politics and found that on average, 49.3 percent of voters supported cash and gratuitous handouts.
  5. Eighty-nine percent of corruption in Indonesia occurs at the local level. After the election of President Suharto, the country started to shift from authoritarian rule towards democracy. Suharto’s first step to democratization was the decentralization of the Indonesian government. However, the lack of accountability for local governments created an environment that fostered corruption. For example, inadequate oversight in the forestry sector cost the government $4 billion per year from illegal logging.
  6. Corruption is expensive. Last year, corruption in Indonesia cost the government $401.45 million. This cost is $55.4 million less than in 2017.
  7. The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranks Indonesia 89. Using Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Indonesia ranked number 89 out of 180 countries with a score of 38/100 in 2018. This is significantly better than its rank and score of 118/180 and 32/100, respectively, in 2012.
  8. Many attribute more recent success in reducing corruption to President Joko Widodo, more commonly known as Jokowi. Indonesia elected Jokowi in 2014 on an anti-corruption platform. He simplified regulations for businesses to attract foreign investment. For instance, Jokowi signed Presidential Decree No. 20/2018 to simplify and accelerate the process of acquiring a work permit for expatriate workers by 34 working days.
  9. Indonesia has an organization dedicated to eliminating government corruption called the Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK). This corruption eradication commission formed in 2002 as an independent organization in charge of investigating and prosecuting high-profile corruption cases. In 2016, it reported a 100 percent conviction rate and recovered approximately $35 million in state assets.
  10. The new generation has zero-tolerance for corruption in Indonesia. A group of students in Indonesia held their school accountable for corruption. The school was profiting from money that it received to go towards nonexistent construction projects. When student organizer Darmawan Bakrie and his friends realized the injustice, they established the Save our School campaign. Despite threats and warnings from the school, students and parents worked together and succeeded in holding the school accountable. The local mayor saw the campaign in the news over the course of three months and removed and transferred (but did not fire) the guilty officials from their positions and held them liable for the money they stole.

Corruption in Indonesia holds deep roots in its democracy, but the future looks bright with the Save Our School campaign as just one example. Many participants (58.5 percent) of the CSIS study believe that the Indonesian government is honest in its desire to eliminate corruption.

The central government and anti-corruption organizations work on a day-to-day basis to hold individuals accountable for their actions, but they still have a long way to go. If successful, anti-corruption practices can decrease inequalities, create foreign business opportunities and decrease national poverty levels.

– Haley Myers
Photo: Flickr

Aid to IndonesiaIndonesia is no stranger to natural disasters; it has experienced a lot of destruction throughout the years. A major natural disaster occurs in Indonesia almost every year in the form of tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Christian organizations are planted internationally in order to minister and bring aid to those in need. World Vision Ministry is one such organization that has been in Indonesia since 1960. Here is a look at World Vision’s aid to Indonesia.

World Vision’s Foundation

World Vision in Indonesia is based on a vision of a world that is committed to the well-being of children. The organization strives to build thriving communities where peace and justice can prevail with security, opportunity and contentment. This is accomplished through its relief, development and advocacy work. World Vision has become one of the world’s largest charities with annual revenue reaching more than $1 billion. It has ministries in 90 countries, focusing on children.

In the 1970s, World Vision Indonesia initiated a community development approach that provides more integrated support toward the empowerment of the poor communities and their children. Its involvement improved basic education, health, income generation and basic infrastructure for Indonesia. In 1998, World Vision raised 14 million to aid the poor in Jakarta, Indonesia. As a global humanitarian organization, World Vision’s ministry is dedicated to continuous aid to Indonesia whether it be a food crisis or assistance to victims of natural disasters.

Programs to Empower

According to the ministry, World Vision introduced the Area Development Program (ADP) approach in the 1990s to create an effective and lasting transformation in the lives of people in poor communities. The organization describes the ADPs as nurturing an inclusive approach to tackle poverty across extensive areas, normally involving several villages and communities. World Vision’s aid to Indonesia through the ADP approach has led to more sustainable developments and impacts through longer intervention and lifetime concentrated programs.

Today, World Vision has a partnership with Wahana Visi Indonesia, which supports around 50 ADPs in aid to Indonesia’s North Sumatra, Jakarta, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku and Papua. World Vision in Indonesia has helped to save lives in many ways, but it is most effective in its emergency response.

Emergency Relief and Support

World Vision has administered emergency relief support to those affected by natural disasters or communal conflicts for many years. In 1963, World Vision supported the victims of Mount Agung eruption in Bali and then provided aid to Indonesia in the resettlement of displaced people in West Kalimantan, Maluku among other sites in the 1970-80s. The ministry remained Indonesia in 1997 and 2009 following the drought from the El Nino weather phenomenon, severe economic crises, earthquakes and the major tsunami in Aceh province.

In December 2018, World Vision provided aid to Indonesia when the Sunda Strait tsunami struck Java and Sumatra, resulting in more than 300 deaths. The ministry distributed hygiene and household items to families who lost their homes and provided safe places for mothers to feed their young children.

Margie Siregar, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director with World Vision, spoke with NPR’s Ari Shapiro while she was in Jakarta, Indonesia. “We had 30 aid staff already in the place before the earthquake happened and now we are providing some public kitchen and children feeding,” Siregar told NPR. The workers of World Vision also provided the children with a child-friendly space where they could play and recover from the trauma. In Central Sulawesi, an estimated 460,000 children in four districts were affected according to World Vision Indonesia.

Combatting Poverty

Each fiscal year, World Vision raises around $20 million from donors and sponsors in various countries to combat poverty and bring lasting transformation in the lives of the children to facilitate their communities. In 2018, 86 percent of World Vision’s total operating expenses went to aid Indonesia by establishing programs that benefited children, families and communities in poverty.

Parents in Indonesia are being empowered to care for their children through education on child protection and disaster risk reduction thanks to World Vision’s aid to Indonesia. Those who are interested in aiding the families affected by the recent tsunami may donate to World Vision’s Indonesia tsunami relief fund.

Carolina Chaves
Photo: Flickr

Indonesia's Natural ResourcesIndonesia is a bountiful country full of natural resources, such as coal, copper, gold, oil and natural gas. However, regardless of the strides Indonesia has made toward lowering its greenhouse gases emissions, it has been a challenge for the country to become “energy- and food- secure while also protecting forests.” The World Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental think tank, supports the efficient use of Indonesia’s natural resources by assisting the government through analyses and advice for the most equitable way to use the county’s land.

Green Development

The premise of the green development framework is to keep current and ongoing development projects underway in order “to keep within this ecological “carrying capacity.” Propelling this shift in Indonesia’s natural resources paradigm is the government’s acknowledgment that the rate at which the country is plowing through its natural resources is not sustainable for the future.

Shortages in housing, water and food are just a few examples of the environmental and public health consequences that the current usage rate of natural resources has on development. Some concerns lie at the regional level rather than the national. For example, the islands of Bali and Java are at a critical level when it comes to their water resources.

The new course of development includes initiatives to hone in on major areas such as water, fisheries, energy and transportation, agriculture and peat. The key goal is to find “a balance between [economic] growth and environmental carrying capacity.” WRI Indonesia is working with the private sector to convert peat restoration into “viable” opportunity for business.

The Ocean

Being a well known marine nation, another pertinent Indonesian resource is the ocean. “The country’s waters support over 3,000 species of bony fishes and more than 850 sharks, rays and chimaeras,” and the fishing industry employs roughly 12 million Indonesians. Despite the many benefits of fishing, avoiding the exploitation and loss of fish needs to be a significant area of focus.

In some rural parts of the country, the water toxicity has increased significantly due to the runoff of pesticides and fertilizers as well as an increase in algae in the riverbeds. This has led to an unfortunate loss of marine life. To help solve the marine pollution crisis NGOs, activists and community groups have made efforts to clean Bali’s beaches. In 2017, volunteers collected 40 tons of trash from several different beaches. Further environmental reforms will be necessary to prevent toxicity from reaching the beaches.

Low Carbon Development

In an effort to account for its ecological carrying capacity, Indonesia has set in place the KLHs or Strategic Environmental Assessment. This assessment is carried “out prior to issuing permits for land or forest management”  as a way of weighing the environmental impact of the companies requesting the permits.

Indonesia has set a bold and challenging goal in its first-ever low carbon development and green economy framework. The plan will focus on the energy and land use sectors of five different areas. The end goal of the green development plan is to continue to grow economically, but find “a balance between growth and environmental carrying capacity.”

Research suggests economic benefits as high as $26 trillion are foreseeable if strong stances are taken in climate change. These benefits include “new jobs and better health outcomes globally.” The new green development framework could propel “rapid economic growth, reduce the poverty rate and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.” The way forward for Indonesia’s natural resources and economic development goals could be further improved with support from other nations.

Without a doubt, Indonesia’s natural resources play a major role in the country’s economy and livelihood. The pledge to transition to a more sustainable economy and green development characterizes the brave nation that is Indonesia. The green development framework paves the way to preserve and celebrate the history of the country for generations to come.

Karina Bhakta

Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia
Education in Indonesia has reached gender parity, with no significant gender gap in enrollment percentages. However, the schools there continue to reinforce gender stereotypes through their teachings. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia explore issues within the gender-biased curriculum as well as the changes being made to combat them.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Indonesia

  1. In Indonesia, students’ enrollment in school seems no longer influenced by gender. According to UNICEF, 92.8 percent of girls and 92.7 percent of boys are enrolled in primary school. Also, 62.4 percent of girls and 60.9 percent of boys are enrolled in secondary school. Therefore, gender parity is a notable accomplishment among the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia.
  2. However, schools in Indonesia tend to have gender-biased textbooks. In these textbooks, men are cited more often than women and there are more illustrations of boys than girls. Within the illustrations, boys are shown in more diverse roles while girls are shown in more stereotypically feminine roles.
  3. Gender stereotyping is also projected in the way students are conditioned to choose their subjects of interest. Women in Indonesia prefer subjects like Social Sciences while men prefer subjects like Technical Sciences. While women are discouraged to choose subjects such as Math or Biology, men are discouraged to choose subjects such as Humanities as they are considered feminine in nature.
  4. In Indonesia, girls are more likely than boys to drop out of school. According to UNICEF, for every 10 children that drop out of school at the secondary level, seven are girls. One of the primary reasons for this is early marriage and the stereotypical mindset of society.
  5. Close to 84 percent of men in Indonesia are in the labor force, while only around 51 percent of women occupy the same position. Also, most of the top government and private positions are held by men. As a result, there is a huge difference in pay between men and women in Indonesia. While the gross national per capita income for men stands at 13.391, for women it is as low as 6.668.
  6. On the brighter side, the PAUD KM 0 ‘Mekar Asih’ is an early education model that seeks to educate students equally without any gender discrimination. They provide a gender-neutral curriculum where children can see themselves in any role irrespective of their sex.
  7. Centers like PAUD ensure that both mother and father be equally involved in their child’s academic development. It is one of the ways in which they try to convey the idea of equality between the sexes to the children. For instance, the centers invite fathers to come in for storytelling in order to shatter the stereotypical image of women as caregivers.
  8. The PAUD KM 0 early education model has been adopted in over 300 districts and 34 provinces. The program also engages women and mothers by forming groups at various locations. They provide them with training by organizing workshops and through campaigning.
  9. According to Kurniati Restuningsih, Head of the Sub-Directorate of Curriculum, “The Ministry of Education and Culture promotes gender mainstreaming at an early age as a way to improve equality and diversity and eliminate gender discrimination which unfortunately still occurs in many communities.” The program seeks to empower girls at a young age to stay in education and pursue careers they would otherwise be stopped from pursuing.
  10. The Ministry of Education and Culture also conducts a Mothers of Early Childhood Education program called ‘Bunda PAUD’. The specialty of this program is that it is fully run by women, from First Lady, Irina Jokowi, to wives of governors, mayors, and regents. This is to provide girls with a strong female role model in a significant leadership position.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Indonesia highlight the issues with the gender-biased curriculum in Indonesia and also emphasizes the various efforts put forth by the Ministry of Education and Culture in order to close the gender gap.

– Anna Power
Photo: Flickr

Indonesian fishing industry
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

Photo: Flickr

Natural Disasters and Impoverished Countries
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.

Myanmar

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
Photo: Flickr

Top Five Most Generous Countries in the World
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.

5. Ireland

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.

2. Australia

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.

1. Indonesia

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

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Indonesia
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
Photo: Flickr

earthquake
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
Photo: Flickr

Effects of the Indonesian EarthquakeOn 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
Photo: Google