Tue, 02 Aug 1994

Indonesia offers help on population

JAKARTA (JP): President Soeharto called on other developing countries to close ranks with Indonesia and rely more on their own resources in development efforts.

Addressing the three-day population meeting of 11 developing countries yesterday, Soeharto offered to share Indonesia's experience in a number of development efforts, including the management of family planning and population.

He described the "Partners in Population and Development: A South-South Initiative" to the participants as an example of how exchange of expertise and success can greatly benefit both the givers and recipients.

"It is our firm conviction that through cooperation there will be an increasingly greater number of developing countries that can do a lot of things," he told the meeting which included Kenyan Vice President Dr. George Saitoti.

"It's precisely by subscribing to such principles of partnership that we continue to seriously bolster international cooperation," he said.

"However, we are all aware that South-South cooperation alone is not enough," he said. "Hopefully this will be an international cooperation that also involves the advanced industrial countries, based on mutual respect and sincerity."

Soeharto's speech reiterated Indonesia's stance that the developing countries should rely more on one another, but that the developed countries should also offer more assistance.

Soeharto suggested a trilateral cooperation scheme wherein a donor country finances cooperation between two developing countries.

He also spelled out Indonesia's progress in population control, which has enticed more than 2,000 senior participants from 75 countries to visit and learn from its family planning management.

Indonesia has cut infant mortality by almost a third from 145 per 1,000 in the 1970s to 55 per 1,000 today, and slowed down its annual population growth rate from 2.5 percent to 1.6 percent, Soeharto said.


Indonesia, the world's fourth largest nation with a population of around 185 million, has also managed to reduce the average number of children in its families from 5.6 in 1970 to around 2.8 children at present.

Soeharto described yesterday how the success of family planning has allowed the government to shift the focus of its attention to the improvement of the quality of life for families, including more educational opportunities for children.

The meeting is a step toward the International Conference on Population Development, to be held next month in Cairo, Egypt.

The meeting, which is also attended by representatives of a number of donor agencies, proceeded to explore ways of strengthening the existing cooperation and modalities of partnership, as well as funding arrangements.

Led by State Minister of Population Haryono Suyono, it also discussed the plan to establish a secretariat to manage the flow of assistance among the participating countries.

Sally Shelton of the United States Agency for International Development expressed support for the developing countries' initiative, which is expected to have wider impacts than the "traditional" relations of developed countries in the North and developing countries in the South.

Such South-South cooperation also tends to be more flexible and adaptable to individual countries' specific needs than the traditional forms of cooperation, she said.

Today the participants will discuss a draft statement to be presented in Cairo. Later on in the day they will leave on a field trip to Bali. (swe)