Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Poverty rate in poor regency falls sharply, regent claims

Poverty rate in poor regency falls sharply, regent claims
The Jakarta Post | Wed, 04/04/2012 8:58 AM
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Karangasem, one of the poorest regencies on the resort island as recorded in 2011, has boasted success in bringing down the poverty rate, thanks to poverty-reduction efforts.

Data generated by the National Statistics Agency (BPS) through Social Safety Net Program Data Collection (PPLS) showed that by the end of 2011 the number of poor families in Karangasem was 17,061, far smaller than 33,199 recorded in 2010.

Karangasem Regent I Wayan Geredeg called the nearly 50 percent decrease as “a source of pride”.

“The poverty reduction program has become our priority over the past few years. The decreasing number of poor families has made us proud,” he said during the monthly public meeting organized by the provincial administration.

The simakrama public meeting, Pastika’s local adaptation of the western’s town hall meeting, has been organized at regular intervals in Denpasar and other major cities across the island since Pastika was installed as governor. Pastika uses the meeting as a medium to gain raw, unfiltered inputs from the public.

Geredeg acknowledged that he had yet to receive the census data in detail. “We are still waiting for the detailed data on poor families. Hopefully, the data would be really accurate and could direct the course of our next program,” he added.

He also attributed the sharp drop to Pastika’s policy to accelerate developments at the island’s poorest regencies, which include Karangasem, Buleleng, Bangli and Jembrana.

“Governor Pastika has treated Karangasem as his first priority, directing the provincial budget to finance development programs at the regency’s poor and drought-affected villages,” Geredeg said, adding that mobile free health services and clean water supply are among the best programs.

Pastika has launched several major poverty-reduction initiatives, including free healthcare for all registered residents of the island, free house renovation for poor families, a scholarship program for poor students and the integrated farming system (Simantri), which offers cash and technical assistance to farmers’ groups willing to adopt to organic farming and alternative energy sources.

“We were thankful to the provincial administration that has been helping us in reducing the poverty rate,” Geredeg added.

Geredeg said most of the regency’s poor families were living in drought-affected areas and experiencing difficulty in accessing clean water.

The regency-provincial administration joint program had gradually solved this problem.

“Families in Seraya village now have easy access to 60 liters of clean water. We will continue to improve the program in order to alleviate poverty in our region,” Geredeg said.

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika praised the success of Kara-ngasem on reducing the poverty rate in the region. Pastika acknowledged that many villages in Bali were still in poverty due to lack of clean water.

“Supply of clean water has an important role in preventing poverty. If a family doesn’t have sufficient access to clean water, they are not able to improve their conditions. That is why access to clean water has to be the first step in solving the country’s problems with poverty,” Pastika said.

Lack of clean water, he said, had also caused economic inequality between southern Bali and other parts of the island.

“If we seriously observe, why southern Bali experiences faster growth and progress, that’s actually because the region has more and easier accesses to clean water supply,” he argued.

— JP/Ni Komang Erviani

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