Wed, 09 Jul 2003

Despite progress, RI ranks low in human development

Endy M. Bayuni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The good news is that Indonesia has been making progress in almost all facets of human development. The not so good news is that the country still rates poorly in the fight to improve the lives of its people when compared to other countries, including most in the region.

Indonesia ranked 112th in the Human Development Index published in the Human Development Report 2003 which studied the development of 175 countries and was published on Monday.

The report published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said that between 1990 and 2001, Indonesia had significantly improved people's access to clean water and sanitation, had moved toward gender equality and increased the numbers of girls enrolled in school and significantly decreased its child mortality rate.

The number of those living in poverty had dropped.

Indonesia's record on students enrolled in primary education however has not been good. Between 1990 and 2001 the numbers regressed. While the report does not give a reason for the decline, it is known that millions of children in Indonesia could not go to school in the late 1990s because the economic crisis.

The report looked at the progress of nations around the world in reaching "Millennium Development Goals", which almost all country leaders, including Indonesia's, had pledged to pursue before the turn of the century.

The eight Millennium Development Goals were:

* To halve the number of poor people (defined as living on less than US$1 a day) by 2015, and to halve the number of people suffering from hunger

* To ensure all boys and girls complete primary schooling

* To eliminate gender disparity in schools by 2015

* To reduce by two-thirds the mortality rate of children under five

* To halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases

* To promote sustainable development policies

* To halve the number of people without access to drinking water

* To develop global partnerships for development.

The UNDP report, which quoted data published in 2001, says 7.2 percent of the Indonesian population still live in extreme poverty, and 26 percent of children under the age of five are underweight for their age. The report says 6 percent of the population is undernourished, an improvement from 9 percent in 1990.

The number of school-age children enrolled in schools dropped from 98 percent to 92 percent, according to the report.

The report found girls are still struggling to get an education. The ratio of girls to boys attending primary school remained unchanged at 0.95 between 1990 and 2001; girls also have less access to college education, with the ratio of girls to boys at 0.75.

Gender equality is still an issue in Indonesia with the female share of nonagricultural employment improving only slightly to 30 percent (from 29 percent); and the proportion of legislative seats held by women declining to 8 percent from 12 percent in 1990, (in spite of a woman president since 2001).

Indonesia made significant progress in the health sector despite the severe economic crisis of the late 1990s. The mortality rate of under-fives declined from 91 per 1,000 births to 45, and infant mortality rates declined from 60 per 1,000 births to 33.

However, the maternal mortality ratio remained high at 470 per 100,000 births.

Indonesia's environmental record continued to be poor with a higher emission of carbon dioxide and rising consumption of ozone-depleting substances in he last 10 years or so.

But water access and sanitation in Indonesia seemed to depend on location. Sixty-nine percent of the rural population had sustainable access to drinking water in 1999, against 62 in 1990; the ratio for the urban population fell from 92 to 90 percent.

Indonesia scored 0.682 in the Human Development Index. In the region, it rated above Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Papua New Guinea but below all other Southeast Asian countries. In comparison to other large countries, Indonesia ranked below China but above India.

"Indonesia is on track," commented Romeo Reyes, program development advisor at UNDP's office in Jakarta. "But it needs to do more to achieve the millennium development goals."