Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Indonesia

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

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

Media Misrepresents IndonesiaWestern 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.

Stereotyping Indonesia

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
Photo: Flickr

Reasons for Indonesia’s Resilience
Indonesia is a beautiful country home to over 18,000 islands, the komodo dragon, jungle elephants, beautiful beaches and incredible volcanoes. Its beauty brings tourism and natural resources, but there is still high poverty rates that the Indonesian government is determined to decrease. Despite challenges of poverty and natural disasters, here are the main reasons for Indonesia’s resilience.

Indonesia Learns from the Past

Indonesia is particularly exposed to natural disasters such as volcanoes, flooding earthquakes and tsunamis. Over the last ten years Indonesia has undergone multiple earthquakes with over a 6.0 magnitude. Of the more recent earthquakes, the most devastating was one that hit Sumatra at the end of September 2009 with a 7.6 magnitude that caused over a 1000 casualties.

The history of natural disasters coupled with a high risk of more to come has fortified the Indonesian government to be ready for any future events. In April of 2012, Indonesia’s National Tsunami Warning Center alerted the Banda Aceh community of a tsunami threat.

Luckily the earthquake did not create a tsunami, and the alarm went off as intended, but misunderstood and confused procedures lead to panic and disorder. However, events like these contribute towards finding the holes, implementing solutions and ultimately, fixing the problems. Many locations like Banda Aceh have now marked evacuation routes and built safety shelters.

Fighting Poverty

At 10.2 percent, Indonesia’s poverty rate is the lowest it’s ever been. With a population of about 261 million, the fourth largest in the world, Indonesia still hosts over 26 million people living below the poverty line. However, the nation’s standard of living and social assistance increased over the last twenty years.

In particular, the poverty rate dropped about 5 percent over the last ten years. The National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro acknowledged the need for further improvement and hoped to see the rate drop to under 10 percent in the near future.

Growing Tourism and Economic Strength

With so many beautiful attributes, it’s not hard to believe that Indonesia’s tourism rose from a little over 12 million tourists in 2015 to over 14 million in 2017. The growing tourism industry goes a long way towards helping Indonesia make comebacks.

Even when the worldwide slowdown hit after 2011, Indonesia still received an increasing number of foreign tourists — 7.65 million in 2011, 8.04 in 2012 and 8.8 million in 2013. 

Indonesia has the tenth largest economy in the world for purchasing power. The nation’s gross domestic product grew from $861.3 billion in 2015 to $932.3 billion in 2016.

This bounce-back occurred after a dip in the GDP output but was still an overall increase. The government is still looking for ways to strengthen the economy, such as outing corruption by strengthening the legal framework or improving infrastructure by decreasing fuel and electricity subsidies.

Looking at the Long-Term Goal

Powerful changes, such as those listed for the building economic strength, will help to make Indonesia more attractive for foreign investment. However, some changes — such as cutting fuel subsidies — can result in a short-term struggle causing many citizens to become dissatisfied.

If the country can make it past the initial difficulty, the eventual removal of the subsidies will lead to long-term gain. Indonesia’s ability to recognize what sacrifices will lead to longevity is one of many reasons for Indonesia’s resilience, and a hopeful sign for the future. 

– Natasha Komen
Photo: Flickr

Indonesian Sea SaltSea salt farming almost always occurs in warm climates with little precipitation, such as in Indonesia. Sea salt is harvested from shallow ponds called salterns through natural solar evaporation. As water evaporates from the shallow ponds, the salt in the water becomes more concentrated. When the water reaches about 25 percent salinity, the salt starts to crystallize and it can be harvested.

Indonesian Sea Salt Farmers

Wealthier sea salt farmers have access to technology that reduces the need for manual labor but most Indonesian sea salt farmers have to do everything themselves. Just getting seawater to the salterns requires Indonesian farmers to spend days carrying the water by hand from the sea.

Farmers with access to technology use trucks with rake attachments to break up the salt beds but many Indonesian farmers have to rake the salt beds manually. Indonesian farmers then have to scoop up the salt and carry it to washing facilities. After the sea salt is washed, farmers have to boil it to produce pure salt. To boil the sea salt, Indonesian farmers have to carry large containers of salt on their heads to open, smoky stoves.

Sea salt farming has a long history in Indonesia but other agricultural economies such as cashews, cacao and coconut palms took precedence and stalled the sea salt economy. Indonesian sea salt saw a revival in 2005 as demand for gourmet salt rose.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation

With the rise in demand for sea salt but little improvement in the technology available for Indonesian sea salt farmers, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) made an Indonesia Compact. The MCC is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency that partners with countries worldwide to promote economic growth and lift people out of poverty. With strong bipartisan support, the U.S. Congress created the MCC in 2004 and the MCC signed the five-year Indonesia Compact in 2011.

The MCC’s Indonesia Compact went into force in 2013 and ended in April 2018. The Compact’s three initiatives were:

  1. The Community-Based Health and Nutrition to Reduce Stunting Project
  2. The Green Prosperity Project
  3. The Procurement Modernization Project

Aid for Indonesian sea salt farmers fell under the Green Prosperity Project which sought to increase agricultural productivity and to improve land use practices and management of natural resources.

The MCC worked closely with the Indonesia-based NGO Panca Karsa to communicate with sea salt farmers on the ground. By introducing piping to get seawater to salterns, improving filtering techniques and even just providing farmers with wheelbarrows, the MCC and Panca Karsa have helped sea salt farmers increase the quantity and quality of their salt production, boosting the farmers’ incomes and making their businesses more sustainable.

Panca Karsa reports that salt yields have tripled in the last couple of years and prices have doubled due to improved quality. In the past, most of the farmers were only able to sell their salt in bulk at local markets or trade their salt for rice. The MCC and Panca Karsa also helped farmers improve packaging, labeling and marketing and now farmers’ salt is competitive in artisanal and niche markets globally.

Sea Salt Farming and Female Empowerment

Most of the labor-intensive work of sea salt farming in Indonesia is done by poor women. These women do not generally own the land they work on and many only take home about $2 per day. Before the MCC and Panca Karsa intervened, these women only retained about 50 percent of their hard-earned production. Now, these farmers report that they retain about 60 percent.

Besides training programs for salt-making, financial management, business planning, quality control and marketing, the MCC and Panca Karsa also offered monthly community meetings to raise awareness for maternal and child health and nutrition. The organizations helped get families access to health and other services and worked to improve gender relations by engaging households in task-sharing between men and women.

In just a few years, the MCC and Panca Karsa have helped train over 400 female sea salt farmers and entrepreneurs in Indonesia, making it possible for these women to expand their businesses and support their families.

– Kathryn Quelle
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Indonesia
Girls’ education in Indonesia is promising. In 2014, the World Bank noted that Indonesia’s education system is Asia’s third largest and the world’s fourth largest. Moreover, in 2016, the literacy rate for females between the ages of 15 and 24 was 99.65 percent. What makes Indonesia’s education system most noteworthy, however, is the response to Indonesia’s 2006 earthquake and the continuing developments in girls’ education.

Effects of the Yogyakarta Earthquake on Girls’ Education in Indonesia

After the magnitude 6.3 earthquake in 2006, approximately 1,000 schools were destroyed and 6,234 people were killed in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia. In response, organizations such as the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative expanded their efforts to improve girls’ education in Indonesia. In accordance with the Indonesia Earthquake 2006 Response Plan, school tents were provided by USAID, Save the Children, UNICEF and the Japanese government.

In cases of emergency, such as Indonesia’s Java earthquake, there are distinct benefits that education provides children. According to UNICEF, “Schools can protect children from the physical dangers around them…and also provide children with other lifesaving interventions, such as food, water, sanitation and health.”

In 2016, UNESCO recorded that 1.5 million Indonesia girls were not enrolled in school. Furthermore, according to UNICEF’s education fact sheet, only 40 percent of Indonesian girls aged 15 to 24 learn about HIV prevention measures and only 23 percent use condoms regularly. Also, 85 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 hold misconceptions or have no knowledge of HIV/AIDS.

Ongoing Efforts to Develop Girls’ Education

To improve these numbers, education and health services are targeted at the early childhood education level. The World Bank explained that “better-prepared children are less likely to repeat grades.” It has also been shown, according to the World Bank, that early childhood education is associated with healthier and better-educated children.

Since its formation in 2001, the Directorate for Early Childhood Education Program of the Ministry of Education and Culture seeks to provide education programs incorporated with health services. For example, the program implements day care centers and play groups for young children.

Programs such as this are made possible through a partnership with the World Bank. The initiative also addresses teacher training, as more than 60 percent of teachers have only a high school diploma or two years of college education. Teachers are recruited from Indonesian communities and are trained in early childhood development. As a result of efforts made by the Directorate for Early Childhood Education Program, Indonesia won the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education in 2016.

The project focused on instilling confidence and resilience within girls from birth to age eight. UNESCO reports that girls’ educational attainment levels can be strengthened through gender mainstreaming, which avoids gender stereotypes within the curriculum. More specifically, the project addressed children, parents, teachers and school administrators using specialized early childhood education training and workshops.

Education for girls is progressing. Timely responses were made after the 2006 earthquake when children’s schooling was disrupted. Educational aid and reform did not stop there, however, as the Early Childhood Education Program furthered recent improvements to communal learning and healthcare. These education programs demonstrate that increased opportunities for girls’ education in Indonesia are crucial for alleviating poverty. Girls with higher levels of education are more likely to have children later and their risk of contracting HIV/AIDS is lowered. Education is vital to their quality of life.

– Christine Leung
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Jakarta
While Jakarta has one of the lowest poverty rates in Indonesia, the nation as a whole has had fairly stagnant poverty levels for a few years now. The nation has seen much economic growth lately; however, this growth has not aided all citizens equally. These 10 facts about poverty in Jakarta illustrate the differences and similarities between the nation and its capital city.

Facts About Poverty in Jakarta

  1. Jakarta had a population of almost 11 million people in 2016.
  2. The poverty rate in Indonesia fell from 24 percent to 11.4 percent between 1999 and 2013, paralleling the poverty rate in the city of Jakarta. This is a reduction of more than 50 percent, demonstrating the Indonesian government’s ability to combat poverty effectively.
  3. However, in 2017 the poverty rate in Indonesia was 10.64 percent. In 2016, the poverty rate was 10.7 percent of the population. There has been very little change in poverty levels in Jakarta and Indonesia as a whole in the past few years, indicating the need for new policies and practices.
  4. The Gini ratio is an income inequality measurement tool, where zero represents total inequality and one represents total equality. In March 2017, the Gini ratio in Indonesia was 0.393, and the ratio has been unchanged since the previous September. Such inequality is even more prevalent in large urban areas like Jakarta.
  5. The Indonesia Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) conducts poverty surveys twice a year, indicating an interest in the issue. They conduct research on the national and local levels. Additionally, these statistics are publicly available, showing good levels of transparency.
  6. Jakarta has been facing a widening income disparity, and the Jakarta BPS attributes it primarily to inflation. Inflation in the nation has also prevented development in labor-heavy industries, worsening poverty levels.
  7. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, the governor of Jakarta, hopes to reduce the poverty rate in Jakarta to 1 percent between 2016 and the end of 2021. He plans to do this through a profit-sharing program, in which Jakarta’s poor will be able to start businesses and retain 80 percent of the revenue. The other 20 percent would go to the government.
  8. Indonesian President Joko Widodo indicated that, through a number of poverty alleviation programs, he believes the poverty rate will drop to the single digits. At a national meeting of regional legislative assemblies, he expressed that this is a major target for the government. These programs will be implemented in many cities, including Jakarta.
  9. One such program is the Family Hope Program, which is a social aid program that currently supports 10 million families. With this plan and others like it, the president hopes to significantly reduce poverty in the nation.
  10. President Widodo also pointed to “Kartu Indonesia Sehat,” which are cards that give people access to free healthcare at special service centers. Currently, 93 million people in Jakarta, and other towns and cities, are able to use the cards at a variety of centers.

These are the top 10 facts about poverty in Jakarta. Ultimately, there is still a lot of room for improvement in Jakarta and Indonesia as a whole. Poverty levels have been stagnant and action needs to be taken to move more people and families above the poverty line. However, the government seems to be putting in place far-reaching programs and setting goals for poverty reduction in the nation, which are very important steps. If these efforts continue and improve, Indonesia may well be on its way to eradicating poverty.

– Liyanga de Silva
Photo: Flickr

Plastic pollution in IndonesiaIndonesia is second only to China as the world’s largest contributor to plastic pollution. Between 1.15 million and 2.41 million tons of plastic waste contaminate the oceans each year. Of this, Indonesia is estimated to contribute roughly 200,000 tons of waste from its rivers and streams. Plastic pollution in Indonesia has become a huge nuisance.

Four of Indonesia’s rivers, Brantas, Solo, Serayu and Progo, rank among the top 20 most polluted rivers in the world. Even though Indonesia possesses about 6 percent of the world’s fresh water, its public water is contaminated with E. coli, fecal matter and other harmful pathogens. The water supply has become undrinkable due to this contamination. Approximately 80 percent of the Indonesian population lacks access to water from pipes, therefore depending on river water for drinking, cleaning and bathing.

Lack of government investment in water pipes has caused the majority of the country to be dependent on water bottles or boiled river water for their consumption. Many Indonesian frequently use disposable plastics in forms of bags, cups, bottles and utensils, making plastic use a common part of their daily routine.

In order to halt plastic pollution in Indonesia, it is important to alter the country’s land-based waste management system. The government has committed to allocating $1 billion a year to drastically reduce the amount of plastic and waste products contaminating the country’s water sources. Indonesian Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan made the declaration at the 2017 World Oceans Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali.

Pandjaitan notified representatives at the summit that Indonesia would reduce its marine waste by 70 percent within eight years. A few measures proposed to contribute to this reduction are the development of industries that use biodegradable materials to make plastic substitutes, widespread taxing of plastic bags and initiating a sustainable public education campaign.

In addition to public education campaigns and charges for plastic bags, the government is also initiating a new land-based waste management tactic: turning scraps into road materials.

These plastic roads, which are made of shredded, melted plastic waste mixed with road tar, are being promoted as an inexpensive and more durable surface than standard roadways. It is also an alternative to discarding the tons of plastic waste that sit in landfills and clog waterways.

On July 29, 2017, Indonesia laid out its first plastic road test, stretching 700 meters, at Udayana University in Bali. Officials now plan to use the dump mix on roads in the cities of Jakarta, Bekasi and Surabaya.

Plastic pollution in Indonesia is believed to approach 9.52 million tons by the year 2019, which is about 14 percent of the country’s waste. If each kilometer of road requires 2.5 to five tons of plastic waste, it could be used to pave 190,000 kilometers of roadway. This is a perfect illustration of the idiom “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, and the new roads can contribute greatly to converting that waste into a useful material.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Indonesia
The U.S. has allocated a total of $27.8 billion in foreign aid for the fiscal year of 2018 to benefit numerous countries around the world. One such recipient of that foreign aid is Indonesia, a country that began receiving U.S.-based funds after it gained its independence from Netherland in 1949.

Agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Peace Corps have assisted the country for over 60 years in various development challenges. Although the country attributes much of considerable progress to foreign aid, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Indonesia in numerous notable ways as well.


U.S. Benefits from Military Cooperation

The U.S. administration requested almost $41.7 million as foreign aid for Indonesia in fiscal year 2008. The goal was a joint fight of the two countries against terrorism, weapon expansion and other trans-national crimes. These aims also included strategic monitoring of waterways surrounding Indonesia and cooperation with the United States armed military forces.

From 2011 to 2016, the U.S. and Indonesia jointly performed 998 defense and security activities. High ranking military officials of the two countries exchanged their views on regional and global security issues through the Indonesia-United States Security Dialog (IUSSD) meetings. In 2015 at one of these meetings, the officials stated their focus on the following activities:

  • Cooperation on Maritime and Peacekeeping Operations
  • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response
  • Defense Procurement and Joint Research and Development
  • Countering Trans-National Threats and improving military professionalization


U.S. Benefits from Maritime Cooperation

In June 2010, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Maritime Cooperation which led to a joint National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition. This voyage helped explore geological, biological and archaeological features of the unexplored ocean and involved scientists and engineers from both countries.

The MOU also extends cooperation in conservation and management of fishery, the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) and maritime safety and security, including combating and eliminating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.


U.S. Benefits from Economic Development

In 2008, the U.S. invested almost $27 million in the economic development of Indonesia. This funding helped to prevent corruption and increase transparency in finance, investment and the private sector of Indonesia facilitating trade between the two countries.

As a result of these aims, the U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock reached almost $16 billion in Indonesia in 2009, an increase that substantially aided the growth of the U.S. investment sector. Then, from 2010 to 2011, the trade between the two countries amounted to almost $23.4 million with a 17 percent increase of exports of U.S. goods to Indonesia.

The U.S. is also a major supplier of aircraft transport, rail transport and energy sector equipment to Indonesia. In 2011, the supply of U.S. agricultural products was remarkable and earned more than $3 billion for the country.  Different U.S. firms also invested a combined $450 million on plants.


Other Benefits

Indonesia is one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters due to its vast tropical forest. Thankfully, though, with the help of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and USAID, the country aims to reduce CO2  emissions and generate 19 percent of the energy from renewable sources by 2019; accomplishing these goals would help fulfill the admirable targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since 2004, the U.S. has also assisted with Indonesia’s education programs. This aid helped to develop education exchange programs between universities of two countries and in January 2017, it was reported that almost 500 U.S. citizens studied in Indonesia with scholarships helping waive tuition fees and living expenses.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Indonesia is manifold in fighting terrorism and fostering marine exploration, fishing conservation, exchange education programs and job creation. These advantageous results help prove that foreign aid does not have to be charity but rather a strategic investment benefitting both recipient and donor.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in indonesiaIndonesia is a vast country spread over thousands of islands, home to a diverse array of ecosystems and agricultural areas. With a rapidly growing population of 260 million people, the government in Jakarta is seeking solutions to improve sustainable agriculture in Indonesia and increase efficiency in a key sector that accounts for around a third of the country’s total land use.

Large industrial plantations and small-scale landholders and subsistence farmers dominate farming in the archipelago, but the pressure of rapid population growth is forcing local businesses and stakeholders to push for sustainable agriculture in Indonesia. Commercialization, industrialization and urbanization have forced agricultural businesses to face the environmental effects of pollution and deforestation and invest in more sustainable practices.

Indonesia has recently gained a reputation as a regional hub for tech start ups, most famously for the motorbike ride-hailing app Go-Jek. A new app named iGrow has gained a following after emerging at the StartupIstanbul competition in Turkey. By connecting regular citizens with Indonesian farmers, iGrow helps users invest in the farmers’ crops and plantations and promote more sustainable agriculture in Indonesia. For now, the app only allows users to invest in planting one of three different seeds, durian, peanuts and longan, but the app’s creators promise that more options will be available soon.

Jakarta is also partnering with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to research and promote sustainable agriculture in Indonesia and beyond, pioneering a food diversification program in southeastern Sulawesi in eastern Indonesia. The project aims to reduce dependency on common carbohydrates like grains and rice and instead promote indigenous sources of starch like the sago palm. An earlier collaboration with the FAO planted 5,000 hectares of sago in Papua in a similar project, and the current program targets two districts with a project to build a sago processing unit to commercially export the crop.

Elsewhere in the world, the major lender Rabobank is launching a $1 billion sustainable farming facility in partnership with U.N. Environment that will initially focus on Brazil and Indonesia. The facility will seek to advance sustainable agriculture in Indonesia and ultimately around the world, financing sustainable land use in ways that help the country achieve its climate goals under the Paris Climate Agreement.

– Giacomo Tognini

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in Indonesia
Indonesia, a country known for its large economy and diverse population, is home to 243 million people. Previously, the country dealt with an autocratic leader and has had many issues with corruption. However, the country’s newest president, Joko Widodo, wants to make the country more democratic. With 
poverty affecting 11 percent of the population and many people living in “near poverty”, several development projects in Indonesia have been working toward solutions.

Here are five development projects in Indonesia that are addressing different issues in order to make the country better for its citizens.

The National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM Mandiri)

PNPM Mandiri works within the poorest communities in Indonesia to help develop villages. By engaging in these projects, community members have access to employment and help their community’s infrastructure. It is a flagship community organization for the government. The program also teaches others how to plan communities and apply the practices elsewhere in Indonesia. The program is now operational in 70,000 communities throughout 33 provinces.

Asian Development Bank’s Microfinance Program

As a way to invest in communities, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) started a microfinance program to help small businesses in North Sumatra. The program was originally intended to help businesses after the 2004 earthquake and tsunami. Instead of having a bank, representatives visit communities and give presentations where business owners can get loans. This enables businesses to expand and allows people to get loans that they thought they could not have gotten before. The microfinance program provides “finance that changes lives.”

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in Jakarta

The MRT is an infrastructure development project aimed to relieve traffic congestion. It is being built by the Jakarta government and it will be completed in 2027 with a construction cost of over $1 billion. This project is going to impact almost 500,000 people daily so they can travel efficiently to their jobs and improve the economy.

IFAD in Indonesia

Similar to the ADB microfinance program, IFAD invests in the rural sector. IFAD focuses on investing in remote and vulnerable areas. It has invested over $400 million into Indonesia since 1980 and helps establish public-private partnerships. It places an emphasis on smallholders in these communities.

The Legal Empowerment and Assistance for the Disadvantaged (LEAD) Project

This program works to ensure that the most marginalized in Indonesia are given the proper rights and treatment. The LEAD Project aims to spread awareness of legal rights regarding government services and legal claims. As a result, policies have been strengthened and government officials have been more responsive to marginalized communities claiming rights and bringing up legal issues.

Indonesia has issues that span the rural and urban areas as well as in the spheres of legal and human rights. These 5 development projects in Indonesia will benefit the people as the country continues to progress.

– Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr