Gates Foundation to Assist Indonesia With Family Planning Efforts

In Articles YCCP, News YCCP

T

he nation faces an imminent population explosion that will strain its resources, an official with the National Population and Family Planning Agency said on Tuesday, blaming decentralization and lack of local government participation for the stagnation of its once-successful program.

Sugiri Syarief, head of the agency known as BKKBN, said that unless its family-planning program was revitalized, the nation’s population would jump from 231 million to 255.5 million people by 2015.

Established in 1972, the program’s missing was to keep population growth at sustainable levels. Its early success during President Suharto’s administration has been attributed to the highly centralized government at the time.

“Since the decentralized system was implemented [in 2004], the family-planning program has started to fall apart,” Sugiri said during a news conference marking the launch of Advanced Family Planning, initiated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

During its three-year involvement, the foundation will collaborate with local officials in devising ways to temper the coming population boom.

Sugiri said that out of Indonesia’s 504 districts, about 15 percent had no access to family planning services.

“Some said they didn’t have a big enough budget to fund the program while others simply don’t see a population explosion as a threat,” he said.

But Sugiri said keeping birth levels down meant overall savings in resources, education costs and health care.

The family planning agency has used various approaches to persuade the regional governments to support its mission, but none has succeeded.

“Therefore we need help from a neutral party to review our program and find out what went wrong,” he said, pointing out that the foreign involvement would help publicize the problem to the world. Since the population control measures recorded success in 2004, most of the program’s foreign aid has dropped off, he said.

“It wouldn’t be a problem if the government took over when the foreign donors pulled back… but they didn’t, and as the result we lost a major amount of funding to make our programs work,” he said.

Sugiri said BKKBN needed at least Rp 3 trillion to Rp 4 trillion ($333 million to $444 million) per year in funding, but the government had only budgeted Rp 1.632 trillion for this year.

Jose Romin, a representative from the foundation, said Indonesia had been included in its program, along with Ugandan and Tanzania, because the country could set an example.

“As a member of G-2O, Indonesia is a very powerful voice from the South. When Indonesia speaks, the rest of the world listens,” he said.

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