Fri, 02 May 2003

UNDP program benefits 150,000 poor families

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The UNDP-sponsored Community Recovery Program (CRP) is moving towards a new phase emphasizing the empowerment of poor families and the creation of strategic alliances at the local level to help eradicate poverty in Indonesia.

Since it was first launched in 1998, the CRP has disbursed grants worth US$17 million from donor countries to assist more than 150,000 poor families through income-generation activities, basic social services, food security and humanitarian aid for internally displaced people affected by ethnic and sectarian conflicts.

UNDP Resident Representative Bo Asplund said in the CRP's 2002 progress report that it had provided support for 896 poor community institutions with the total number of participants increasing to 150,000 households.

"The establishment of 15 new humanitarian coordination posts in Ambon, Buton, Denpasar, Manado, Bitung, Kupang, Halmahera and Ternate has benefited more than 83,000 people," he said.

He explained that the UNDP in cooperation with the government, NGOs and facilitators had channeled funds raised from donor countries such the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Britain, as well as the private sector, to poor communities (IDPs) through income-generation activities such as commercial farming, fishing, marketing of products in the informal sector and seedling production for reforestation.

CRP National Council Chairman Emil Salim concurred and said the CRP would continue with more projects "to reach the poor and to eradicate the poverty."

"We want to deliver a message that civil society and poor people must and can escape poverty through their own initiatives. And more can and needs to be done. There are more people today living on $1 a day than there were in 1996 before the economy collapsed ...," Emil said.

He said the council had uncommitted funds amounting to only $1.4 million left to finance its projects.

"We hope that the poor people we have given grants to can create a snowball effect by circulating the funds to other prospective recipients," he said.

The CRP, which was launched in 1998, has so far received grant commitments worth $28 million from Sweden, the U.S., the Netherlands, New Zealand, PT Beiersdorf, and the United Nation Development Program (UNDP).

To date, it has received $26 million of the total grant commitments.

To access grants, poor people can prepare an initial proposal through NGOs in collaboration with the CRP's regional facilitators. At present, 28 CRP regional facilitators have been appointed around the country.

Emil went on to say that with new projects needing to be funded, it was imperative that the CRP increased its ability to create a permanent trust fund.

"It will make the CRP more sustainable," he said, adding that the CRP must also explore the mobilization of funds from domestic resources.

Emil also called on other NGOs to start conducting similar programs to help poor people fight poverty.

"We need more organizations like the CRP in this country to help eradicate poverty," Emil said.

Emil criticized many programs that only gave out food to poor people, saying that such programs would not improve their quality of life.