Displaced Indonesians suffer from higher rates of poverty, poor health, WFP reports

7 May 2002

The social violence over the last three years in Indonesia has forced more than one million people from their homes, exposing them to higher rates of poverty, unemployment and poor health, according to early results of a new survey by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The social violence over the last three years in Indonesia has forced more than one million people from their homes, exposing them to higher rates of poverty, unemployment and poor health, according to early results of a new survey by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The findings of the preliminary survey, which was released in Jakarta today at a one-day meeting on internally displaced people (IDPs) for government, donor, UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives, show that IDPs have more difficulties obtaining food, but malnutrition does not appear to be a widespread problem.

The report, which interviewed 5,500 family groups (representing some 26,000 people), noted that the IDPs have developed a range of “coping strategies” to survive amid the difficult and uncertain circumstances, such as selling off household assets, borrowing money, growing their own vegetables and doing day labour.

Among the other conclusions, poverty levels were found to be approximately three times higher than the overall average rate of district-level poverty of 19 per cent. Unemployment rates were an average of 54 per cent for the IDP population surveyed, while 55 per cent of the households surveyed were living below the poverty line. In Aceh province, over 90 per cent of the households fell below the poverty line, while unemployment was 100 per cent in two of the province’s four districts.

Poverty rates are also significantly higher – at 68 per cent – for female-headed households, which also experience higher rates of unemployment, according to the survey.

The study, a collaboration of WFP and the Government of Indonesia, found that in just over half of the 50 districts surveyed, illness was a problem for 90 per cent of the households; in 11 districts, that rate was 100 per cent. The most commonly reported illnesses were malaria, dengue fever and hepatitis.

“Statistics like these sound the alarm for the future of the displaced people in Indonesia, particularly women and children,” said WFP Country Director Mohamed Saleheen. “These problems need to be solved now before they have a chance to harden into a second generation.”

 

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