Identifying Challenges and Opportunities for Action on ASRH, Gender Equality and Population Dynamics in Papua



The Papua Province Planning and Development Agency (BAPPEDA), with support from UNFPA Indonesia, recently hosted a seminar to determine the key policy areas on population which need to be addressed in the province.


UNFPA Indonesia Representative Mr. Jose Ferraris and the Regional Secretary Mr. Hery Dosinaen, on behalf of the Governor of Papua, officially opened the seminar, “Challenges and Opportunities for Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Adolescent and Youth issues, Gender Equality, and Population Dynamics in Papua”, which was held in early August. The half-day session identified the areas where UNFPA can partner with the Papua Government to develop the appropriate evidence-based policies to provide guidance to regencies, districts and villages, for comprehensive and integrated development efforts in the area of UNFPA’s mandate.


“We want to gain an appreciation for how policy and evidence-based development programmes are formulated in Papua, and how these methods differ from those used at a national level,” explained UNFPA Indonesia Representative Mr. Jose Ferraris.


“Regional disparity continues to be a challenge for equitable development in Indonesia. The results of the decentralization changes, which have been rolled out since 1999, are yet to show major signs of progress in equity. And although disparity is evident across many areas in Indonesia, the Papua province continues to be listed in the lower ranks of the human development indices compared to other regions.”


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The Human Development Index in Papua is 66.25, below the national average of 73.81. The percentage of the poor in the province is 30 percent, compared with the national average of 11.25 percent.  


The Head of BAPPEDA, Mr. Muhammad Musaad, presented the framework of the province’s “Gerbang Mas Hasrat Papua”, which is part of Papua’s five-year development plan (2013-2018). Launched in 2014, it includes development strategies and goals in education, health, economic growth and basic infrastructure. The programme builds on Papua’s five-year medium development plan that envisions the safety and security of the people of Papua, good governance and strengthening of the special autonomy, increased quality of human resources, acceleration of infrastructure and connectivity and increased economic welfare.


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The key policy areas requiring assistance in Papua include managing population growth, family planning and reproductive rights; developing human capital, changing age structures and the labour force; supporting family development, responsible behavior and social solidarity; managing the population aspects of rapid urbanization and establishing economic corridors; and improving population data and research.


Around 40 people participated in the seminar including the Head of BPS-Statistics in Papua Mr. Didik Koesbianto, Ms. Wasti Wabiser from the Provincial Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Office, Head of Programme with the Provincial AIDS Commission Mr. Christian Samalo and Dr. Agnes from the Provincial Health Office.  Representatives from UNFPA Indonesia, UNDP, UNICEF, development partners, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations also attended the event.


With Papua set to experience a number of demographic changes in the near future, a Population Situation Analysis report for the province was developed by University Cenderawasih Vice Rector Dr. Julius Ary Mollet and Marshum, M.Si. The preliminary report provided a comprehensive overview of the main development concerns for the region, including population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health, youth and gender equality.


Similar to the overall population dynamics in Indonesia, Papua has an opportunity to capitalize on its demographic dividend. According to BPS-Statistics Indonesia, Papua’s demographic dividend started in 2014. If the fertility rate in the province decreases over the next five years, this will result in a favourable dependency ratio – with a larger number of working age people compared with those under the age of 15 and aged over 65.  Papua’s total fertility rate (TFR) is 3.5, while the national TFR is 2.6. By 2019 it is predicted that Papua’s 15-64 year age category will make up 69.3 percent of the population. A lower dependency ratio, if met with timely investments in health, education and employment, could offer an opportunity for a demographic dividend in Papua. The province’s total population is currently 3.43 million and is projected to increase to 4.14 million by 2035.


Therefore, population and development policies are needed in order to expand, improve and diversify the stock of human capital and to make sure the province “rides the wave” of the demographic bonus successfully. This will improve people’s welfare and quality of life and will make the economy more productive and competitive.


During the seminar, Mr. Muhammad Musaad, Head of BAPPEDA, expressed his interest in UNFPA’s work on population dynamics and data, especially in the context of the demographic dividend along with reducing maternal mortality rates in Papua – as there is a need to collect evidence on MMR in the province.


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“By focusing at the upstream policy level, UNFPA will assist with strategic planning and fostering policy dialogue, advocacy, and knowledge management,” explained Mr. Jose Ferraris of the Fund’s next country programme.


“This represents a shift away from assistance in service delivery to the provision of expertise at the policy level. The aim is to help the national and sub- national governments conceptualize and articulate their strategic planning and development policies at provincial level in order to trickle down to districts, regencies and villages.”

Tags: Papua