PAPUA

Wamena

The highlands of Papua is one of the most

beautiful and remote places on earth.

papua

It is also the poorest part of Indonesia’s poorest and most underdeveloped province, Papua. It is an isolated island in many ways. It’s native peoples are Melanesians, not Asians, as are the majority of Indonesians. They are mostly Christian, not Muslim, like the majority of Indonesians. It is an autonomous area that routinely makes threats of seeking independence, unlike the rest of Indonesia. It is separated from the coasts by vast mountain ranges. Its peoples are split apart not only by distance, but by more than 300 different languages (not dialects, languages).

Almost half of Papua’s approximately three million people live under the Indonesian poverty line (approximately $0.87/day). Approximately one-third of the people living in Papua are recent immigrants from other parts of Indonesia. This flood of cultural, religious, and economic change agents is stressing Papuan culture and skewing development statistics. Papua’s human development rankings are among the country’s lowest (65.36 in 2011). The amount of direct government aid to Papua is the highest in the nation, which may easily lead to dependency. The highlands of Papua are only accessible only by plane or by trekking for a week through the mountains. Families in these areas face many challenges including malnutrition, inadequate health care, sexual and domestic violence, and high HIV prevalence rates.

The World Food Programme considers Papua a Priority One area for food security. Most people in the highlands live without access to any government services. No hospitals or clinics. School buildings, but no teachers. No police. No electricity or access to clean water outside of the main cities.

Violence and fear are essential parts of the Papuan experience. Tribal, political, and domestic violence is common in Papuan communities. Almost four out of 10 people in Jayawijaya have been physically abused (hit, smacked or beaten) at home. Domestic violence against women is common, and 61% of women believe that husbands are justified in beating their wives. Relatives, especially uncles, have tremendous power and influence in the lives of women. They arrange marriages in order to receive dowries. Seventeen percent of women marry before the age of 15.

With an HIV prevalence of 2.3%, Papua has the highest infection rate in Indonesia. Many Papuans have never heard of HIV and AIDS. There are many myths about the disease—its causes and how to prevent spreading infection. Inaccessibility and relative isolation when compounded with an undeveloped health care system, early sexual debut, false beliefs about sex and marriage, stigma concerning HIV and other STIs, and migration for work put Papuans at risk of HIV.

Papua is a good place, filled with good people. But right now they are trapped in a cycle of poverty which is difficult to break. That is why Yasera has dedicated itself to breaking the cycle of poverty in the Papuan highlands.

RESOURCES
Badan Pusat Statistik, “Sensus Penduduk 2010.”
Badan Pusat Statistik, “Berita Resmi Statistik No. 13 / 03 / 94 /Th. 1, 1 Maret 2011”
Prasetyo, S., et al., Situation Analysis of Youth in Indonesia DRAFT. 2009, Centre for Health Research, University of Indonesia.: Jakarta.
UNICEF, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey Selected Districts of Papua and Papua Barat – Key Preliminary Findings.
Survei Terpadu Biologi & Perilaku (STBP) di Populasi Umum di Tanah Papua 2013.

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