Learn more about specific causes in Indonesia that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentIndonesia is highly vulnerable to natural disasters like flooding, tropical storms, and tsunamis. The most recent natural disaster to hit the country was a massive 2004 tsunami from which the population is still recovering. Moreover, Indonesia currently faces man-made environmental problems such as deforestation, overfishing, pollution, and illegal wildlife trade.1 The coast of Indonesia supports the majority of the world’s coral reef species and 30% of the world’s fish species, making the coastline ecosystem extremely valuable. 60% of Indonesia’s population lives along the country’s coast, further exacerbating the demands placed on coastline ecosystems.2
Education95% of Indonesians over the age of 15 are literate. The government spends 3.3% of GDP on education annually.1 The education system has been criticized for its preferential treatment of children who have financial security over those from impoverished families. Many rural poor children have access only to low-quality primary education, while children with means have access to a variety of public and private schools. The Borgen Project notes that there are issues with education for those with special needs, such as the fact that curriculum is the same for children with physical and learning disabilities.2 The country has chronically low enrollment rates. One of the largest obstacles to scholastic efficacy is corruption. Parents and students are often required to exchange cash for degrees, Read More and bribes are frequently paid for higher grades or national exam scores.3 Show Less
PovertyThe amount of citizens living in poverty fell from 24% in 1999 to 11% in 2016, but there continue to be chronic problems with income disparity within the society.1 Those living in rural areas experience poverty disproportionately to the rest of citizens. The wealthiest 1% of the population possess nearly half of the available wealth. The wealth gap is one of the leading causes of social tension within the country. The International Monetary Fund notes that nearly $101bn was cycled into tax havens from Indonesia in 2015, leading to severe inefficiency and poor funding of the government. Women also experience poverty disproportionately, as they are often more limited in pursuing education and face gender-based discrimination.2
ReligionIn order to legally practice religion in Indonesia, the religion must fit into one of the five categories defined by the Indonesian government. These categories include Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The basic definition provided by the government is that religions must acknowledge that there is only one God.1 Incidents of violence against minority religions in 2012 were frequent and occasionally deadly. Christian churches have faced arbitrary refusals to issue permits allowing them to build places of worship. Furthermore, Islamic extremist groups have used violence and threats including bombings and burnings of churches.2
Clean Water12.6% of Indonesians do not have access to clean water, while nearly 40% of the population does not have improved sanitation infrastructure.1 Contaminated water is a rising problem for parts of the country whose clean water sources are polluted by poor waste management. Nearly 90% of deaths caused by diarrhoea are linked to contaminated water. 20% of Indonesians defecate in the open, and less than 50% of the population reports hand washing regularly. These cultural norms create major health hazards and difficulties for organizations trying to combat the spread of infectious diseases.2
Economy5.4% of the Indonesian population is unemployed. The economy is highly dependent on the export of mineral fuels, animal and vegetable fats, and electrical machinery. Imports include boilers, machinery, and other mechanical parts. The country’s national public debt is 33% of GDP. Indonesia’s trade partners include China, Singapore, and Japan.1 Indonesia has emerged in recent years as a stable democracy and middle-income country. The largest obstacles to Indonesia’s economic growth continue to be corruption, limited application of the law, and weak enforcement of property rights. Protectionist legislation also hinders the security of foreign investment.2
GovernmentThe Republic of Indonesia is a presidential republic. The country gained independence in 1945 after Dutch colonization and Japanese occupation. It has been praised internationally for transitioning to democracy after operating under semi-dictatorial powers for nearly 30 years.1 The greatest problem facing Indonesia’s government is widespread corruption, both within the government and society overall. One of the most common manifestations of corruption in Indonesia is the practice of bribery, which exists among all levels of government. Such widespread corruption poses a threat to the long-term viability of democracy in Indonesia.2
HealthThe average life expectancy is 73 years in Indonesia. The infant mortality rate is 23 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is 126 deaths per 100,000 live births. The government spends about 2.8% of GDP on healthcare annually, and there are only about 2 physicians for every 10,000 people. The country has a low obesity rate at 7% but struggles with child malnourishment.1The government has historically been slow and provided insufficient coverage when reimbursing hospital costs. Diseases such as tuberculosis or malaria are largely eradicated within the country. Among the largest problems that Indonesian citizens face today is the shortage of medical and paramedical personnel.2
ChildrenNational data indicates that nearly 20% of Indonesian children under the age of five are underweight.1 An estimated 150,000 Indonesian children die before reaching the age of five.2 14% of children are married by the time they are 18. Recent reports show that this number could be much higher, up to 35% in rural areas. 1,408,000 of women currently between the ages of 20 and 24 were married when they were 18.3 Another prominent concern facing Indonesian children is child labor. Additionally, many children are forced to work in commercial sex industries or are captured for the purposes of human trafficking. Indonesia is a source country, and children are often trafficked to Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Middle East.4
FamilyDue to the diversity and regional separation inherent to Indonesia’s geographic location, Indonesian family life is comprised of a vast array of traditions. Many domestic units consist of both the nuclear family and several members of the extended family.1 Much of Indonesian family life is predicated on a patriarchal system where the father is the head of the household and primary source of income and the mother is the caretaker of the home and children.2 In recent years, divorce rates have increased dramatically. This is mostly due to an increase in women’s political and economic rights. The economic independence of women and their refusal to endure continued domestic violence or polygamy are two contributing factors to the divorce rate surge. One region, East Java, is Read More responsible for 47% of national divorces.3 Show Less
Human RightsAfter Indonesia’s transition to democracy, human rights gained priority in the government, as seen in the expansion of individual freedoms. One of the most pressing concerns is freedom of religious expression. The country is predominantly Muslim, and therefore individuals practicing minority religions face significant oppression and persecution.1 There are reports of people being detained because of their peaceful demonstrations of different religions or beliefs. In recent years the right to assembly has been arbitrarily restricted. There are reported cases of impunity and excessive violence by police forces. The government action to privatize water in Jakarta was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in 2017. The contracts involved were later terminated in defense of the universal right to water.2
AnimalsIndonesia is part of the Indo-Malayan ecoregion, which is known for its moist lowland forests. Rare local plants include floating water plants like the Hydrocharis dubia and the water chestnut. Local forest habitats are home to the fishing cat, wild dog, Javan warty pig, and the slow loris. These species and habitats are threatened by political instability that leads to blatant disregard of environmental laws because companies are aware of the lack of authority held by the government.1
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