Indonesia: A Country in Transition
These children in West Jakarta attend an early childhood development center supported by ChildFund.
Indonesia, home to 248 million people, is the fourth most populous country in the world. Approximately 13 percent of Indonesians live in poverty, and although this is a considerable improvement from how things were when ChildFund began operations in Indonesia in 1958, the perception that poverty is a declining problem is one of the major obstacles to ensuring children in need have access to vital resources. Much progress has been made during the past several decades, and a recent report published by UNICEF highlights the goals and objectives that have been accomplished in Indonesia.
During the past 10 years, several laws have been enacted to provide greater protection of children's rights. These reforms included amendments to Indonesia's constitution that aimed to make the rights of children a priority. Although progress has been made with regard to the promotion of economic equality, ensuring that poverty-stricken families receive the resources and support they need to survive remains a challenge, especially in rural areas.
One major issue is that children are more likely to live in poverty than the general Indonesian population, and young people have fewer resources to help themselves than adults do. Children suffer disproportionately from income disparity, food scarcity and other factors stemming from poverty. ChildFund works to provide these children with the basics they need to succeed in life.
Data from UNICEF indicates that measures to provide access to proper shelter have been successful, but the availability of improved sanitation and clean drinking water has not kept pace with these accomplishments. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of children living in homes with earth floors and a lack of electricity declined by 8.6 percent and 51.7 percent respectively, but during this same timeframe, the number of children living without access to improved or protected water sources increased by almost 20 percent.
In terms of child mortality rates, Indonesia has made significant progress. At present, the child mortality rate in Indonesia is 32 deaths for every 1,000 live births, and the country is on track to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal of reducing this to 31 fatalities per 1,000 births by 2015. This is due in part to the expansion of immunization programs. Between 2003 and 2007, more children were immunized against communicable diseases such as diphtheria, polio, measles and tuberculosis.
Although improvements in levels of malnutrition have been reported, there are still substantial disparities between children living in urban and rural areas. Children living in remote regions, particularly those in Indonesia's poorest provinces, remain at a much higher risk of malnutrition than children living in towns and cities. Health conditions relating to malnutrition, such as wasting and stunting, are still significantly more common in children under 5 in the nation's poorest households.
Ensuring that children have the healthiest possible start in life is central to ChildFund's work in Indonesia. We work with 16 local partners, and last year, we provided early childhood development services to more than 16,000 children under the age of 6 across 31 districts. We have also improved children's nutrition in rural areas — a vital initiative if rates of stunting and wasting are to be reduced.
ChildFund works with children who are in need of many basic resources, and we could not give them help without your support. The best way to help an Indonesian boy or girl get the start in life they deserve is by becoming a child sponsor. For just $28 per month, you can ensure a child has the food, health care and education he or she needs to live a happier life. Join ChildFund in our mission to improve the quality of life for Indonesian children by sponsoring a child today.