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Jakarta Post

Activists urge more focus on social welfare

  • Indah Setiawati

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, June 17, 2013   /  11:57 am

Activists have urged the city to focus on programs that give the urban poor as much access as possible to social welfare and job security.

Hamong Santono of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), said key characteristics of the urban poor were vulnerability to losing income caused by job uncertainty and helplessness in the face of floods and disease caused by poor basic infrastructure.

Worse, they were unaware of their rights as residents, while their roles as illegal squatters and informal workers were not fully recognized in the city'€™s programs.

 '€œThe city should expand its social security programs such as the KJS [Jakarta Health Card]. The urban poor find this KJS program very helpful because they get free access to medication,'€ he told The Jakarta Post recently.

 He said the condition of the urban poor in Jakarta was not in the same category as the extreme poverty witnessed in war-torn African countries.

 '€œThe urban poor in Jakarta can still afford to pay their rent, buy food and water,'€ he went on.

In February, INFID conducted a small interview-based survey involving 35 respondents in Muara Baru and Cilincing in North Jakarta, as well as in Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta. Hamong said he found the residents spent most of their money on food, clean water, electricity, rent and education.

Water had become a luxury for most respondents in the survey. Those who had access to piped water complained it was dirty. Meanwhile, respondents who did not have access to piped water spent some Rp 200,000 (US$20.25) on buying water every month.

 Many poor residents living in the northern parts of Jakarta rely on water sellers because they cannot make wells and have no pipeline network in their area. '€œIt will be better if the city can step in and involve the community to manage hydrants owned by PAM Jaya in North Jakarta. To date, this facility has now become a monopoly for certain people who sell water to the poor,'€ he said.

Data from the Jakarta branch of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said the number of urban poor in the capital was at 366,770, or 3.7 percent of the total population in September 2012. The agency set Rp 392,571 of spending per capita per month as its poverty benchmark.

 Governor Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo has refused to use the data to increase access to the KJS program and has insisted on using his own calculation. With Rp 1.2 trillion of the city budget, the KJS is expected to reach 4.7
million urban poor in the city.

 Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) chairwoman Wardah Hafidz said her NGO did not only define poverty based on economic aspects.

'€œThe definition also involves the fulfillment of basic rights, such as protection from abuse, a sense of security, a right to have a decent job, access to housing, water, health and education, facilities and time for recreation,'€ she told the Post.

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