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Poverty in Bali
Despite welcoming more than 3 million visitors per year and the total from revenue from tourism that is expected to reach US $5.5 billion annually, many of Bali’s inhabitants are living in extreme poverty. But with so much income—$5.5 billion for its 3.8 million Balinese—why is there poverty in Bali?

In Bali, there are as many as 162,051 people living in poverty and this figure has been on the increase. In the villages, the rate at which the number of poor is rising is twice as much as that of Bali’s urban areas. In the Balinese countryside, it is estimated that more than 77,400 people are living in poverty. Currently, in 82 villages out of Bali’s 706 villages, the poverty rate hovers above 35 percent. To make matters worse, on this tourism-focused island where the number of tourists almost matches that of the locals, the incomes of farmers are dwindling and the prices of essential goods are becoming more and more unaffordable to many Balinese.

In remote villages—and “remote” in Bali means an hour or two away from the glittering 5-star hotels—the residents are very poor and most villages lack education, access to clean water and even electricity. Many children must walk for kilometers to go to school. Furthermore, as the more fertile south is overdeveloped, many Balinese are only left with the infertile dry soil of the north and the east to farm on. Due to the lack of jobs and opportunities, men from the villages must also leave to find jobs in the tourism sector, leaving their wives and children. Thus, oftentimes women must work disproportionately, covering both their absent husbands’ tasks as well as their own tasks. In the resort towns, rural migrant workers still earn very little in comparison to what the business establishments whom they work for are earning from tourism. The minimum salary in Bali is only 1,542,600.00 Indonesian Rupiah, or around US $125.

I Made Mangku Pastika, Bali’s governor had made a statement calling the island’s thriving tourism a “disaster” for the poor. He expressed his concern that as prices of basic necessities skyrocket, farmers in need of cash would be forced to sell their land—the only real property they own—in order to make ends meet. The governor had previously fought to stave off further tourism-accommodation developments into the Balinese inland, however due to the political administrative structure, many local authorities ignored his initiative. Trapped in the dilemma of tourism being both the island’s lifeblood as well as—in the words of the governor—a disaster for the poor.

Nevertheless, the governor—now in his second term—is diligently working on solving his island’s economic discrepancy, with many poverty-alleviation plans such as the integrated farming scheme, the installation of solar panels, housing aid and the free healthcare plan. The governor—realizing the injustice of this developmental disparity—also plans to bring down the rate of extreme poverty (people living on less than $2 per day) down from the current figure.

– Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: The Bali Times, WageIndicator.org, The Bali Times, The Jakarta Post, Australia Network News, The Jakarta Post, Asia News Network,
Photo: Tripping

yoko_ono_hard_rock
In collaboration with Hard Rock International and grassroots organization WhyHunger, the legendary Japanese artist and peace activist Yoko Ono has brought “Imagine There’s No Hunger” to Bali. This global campaign to end childhood hunger and poverty was launched in 2008, inspired by her late husband John Lennon’s iconic song “Imagine,” and his vision for a world at peace.

Imagine There’s No Hunger uses a community-based approach to create sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty. In addition to meeting the everyday nutritional needs of children in developing nations, Imagine There’s No Hunger partners with grassroots organizations to engage young people and their families to establish farms using sustainable agroecological production methods. Doing so simultaneously helps create income-earning opportunities that are grounded in a sustainable local economy.

According to the WhyHunger website, Imagine There’s No Hunger and its partners are ultimately working to ensure that impoverished children and their communities will be fed today and will have the resources to feed themselves for years to come.

In its six years of operation, Imagine There’s No Hunger has helped communities in 22 countries grow enough food to provide more than 7.2 million nutritious meals for children in need. Their campaign comes to life during November and December of each year through merchandise sales at Hard Rock, food drives and live music events.

This year, Yoko Ono, Hard Rock International and WhyHunger have brought the Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign to Bali. By partnering with the Sole Men Indonesia Foundation, the campaign hopes to continue its work feeding people in low-income areas, creating permaculture gardens to encourage self-sufficiency and proving therapy for the community’s disabled people.

Through the joint efforts of these passionate partners, John Lennon’s infamous dream of a world without hunger is on its way to becoming reality.

– Tara Young
Sources: FSR Magazine, The Jakarta Post
Photo: Why Hunger

The Unequal RealityThe next global development agenda has been set. The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, hosted the meeting to determine such an agenda; he also served as the co-chairman to the UN High-Level Panel for the post-2015 plan with an emphasis on eradicating extreme poverty. Despite the general success of the UN Millennium Development Goals which includes pulling people out of poverty since the 1990s, an increasing number of children are attending schools, and much fewer children are dying due to curable causes: “political will and commitment can bring about real change.”

The issue is that the majority of these successes are happening on the surface, on the “aggregate” levels as opposed to on the extremely low levels. A report done by Save the Children evinces the hidden inequality behind improvements arguing that only wealthier parts have been directly affected by these successes. For example, rich women in Indonesia now have a skilled attendant; however, between 2007 and 2010, children in poorer households continued to experience severe malnutrition despite overall nutrition improvements.

“Aggregate targets” are dictating such unequal distribution of improvement vs. worsening because governments are naturally choosing to aid and invest in what is easier to help; “this means that those close to the poverty line experience improvements while the very poorest are left behind.” Children are the most vulnerable group affected by such inequality because they are dependent on others for development and growth. Therefore, price increases affect their meal intakes, health budget cuts could cause deaths, and low-quality schools have the potential of keeping these children in poverty. In order to fight off inequality, there is a need for quality services such as availability and equal access to schools and health facilities to all kinds of people.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: South China Morning Post