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Unequal development leads to mass urbanisation, poverty in Bali

Publication Date : 31-07-2012


The wide development gap between rural and urban areas has forced men and women to search for jobs in the larger towns in Bali, leaving their families behind in the villages in extreme poverty.

I Gusti Wayan Murjana Yasa, a leading economist from Udayana University in Denpasar, told The Jakarta Post the development of infrastructure and supporting facilities in villages had been very slow in comparison to urban and tourist areas.

"People living in remote villages have always had the elusive dream of finding better work and better living conditions when they work in the glittering tourist areas," Yasa said.

The academic has frequently urged the provincial administration to pay more attention to development programmes in remote areas.

Currently, development projects are mostly centred in the southern part of Bali, covering the regencies of Badung, Gianyar and Tabanan, as well as Denpasar.

Sparkling five-star hotels, entertainment centres and business sites are mushrooming in Kuta, Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, Sanur and Denpasar.

Meanwhile, thousands of residents in more underdeveloped villages do not have access to roads, clean water, healthcare, schools and economic resources.

According to the Bali Statistics Agency, the number of people living in poverty in rural areas increased from 73,300 people in March 2011 to 77,400 people in the same period in 2012.

The number of people who are living in poverty both in urban and rural areas in Bali slightly increased from 166,200 people in March 2011 to 168,800 people in March 2012.

Overall, according to the National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas), the percentage of people in poverty in Bali has decreased 0.02 per cent from 4.20 per cent of the total population in 2011 to 4.18 per cent in 2012.

Yasa said that the majority of the island's total manpower, around 2 million people, were working in the informal sector, as well as small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) located in villages.

This means, he said, micro and SMEs had become the island's strongest economic drivers for its population. The government, he said, had already implemented several programs to boost SMEs and the informal sector. "They [the workers and managements] are given training. But it is not enough. They need more than just skills upgrading. They need to market their products in order to keep their businesses alive," he said.

Gaining market access is expected to facilitate SMEs continuing their businesses and thus generate a sustainable income, which in the end could improve living conditions.

Bali administration spokesperson Ketut Teneng admitted there were several programs that had been implemented to help the poor, such as the integrated farming system (Simantri). Since 2010, around 300 Simantri groups have been established in Bali. The Simantri programme, which offers cash and technical assistance to farmers' groups willing to adopt organic farming and alternative energy sources, is hoped to bring greater benefits to farmers.

"The Simantri programme has boosted economic activities in rural areas and has discouraged many farmers from going to towns to find jobs," Teneng said.

The administration has now launched its newest programme to accelerate poverty eradication by empowering poor villages in the provinces. The programme, called the Village Integrated Development Programme (Gerbang Sadhu) Bali Mandara, is providing 1 billion rupiah (US$ 105,000) to each village for economic development. The administration allocated 5 billion rupiah from this year's provincial budget for the initial phase of the programme.

In its first phase, the Gerbang Sadhu programme is targeting five poor villages with poverty rates of over 35 per cent, specifically Pejarakan village and Lokapaksa village in Buleleng, Bebandem village in Karangasem, Pejukutan village in Nusa Penida, Klungkung, and Songan B village in Bangli.

Currently, there are 82 out of a total of 706 villages in Bali in which the poverty rate is higher than 35 per cent, mostly in Karangasem and Buleleng regencies. "We will allocate a higher budget from the adjustments to this year's provincial annual budget to properly implement this poverty eradication programme," Teneng said.


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