Sweet potatoes in Papua

Papua is an Indonesian province occupying the western half of the island of New Guinea. Despite the region's abundance of natural resources, its two million inhabitants are the nation’s poorest.

Papua lacks basic services: only 28 per cent of households have access to safe drinking water and 400,000 Highlanders must rely on one 70 bed hospital.

The indigenous people are struggling to adapt to the rapid development within the province. Their livelihoods are at risk, as they do not have the skills or resources to sustainably or economically manage their natural environment.

Ongoing support is needed if the indigenous communities are to lift themselves out of poverty.

Oxfam New Zealand in Papua

Faced with rapid development, indigenous Papuans are struggling to maintain basic livelihoods. Photo: Jim Holmes, OxfamGB.
Faced with rapid development, indigenous Papuans are struggling to maintain basic livelihoods.

Improving livelihoods

Oxfam is working with local partners in Papua to support indigenous communities, operating through a representative office in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

Oxfam’s programme work in Papua will help to develop sustainable livelihood opportunities that will improve the basic rights and standard of living of indigenous and other poor Papuans.

These programmes will strengthen existing market-oriented farming by providing access to markets, teaching farming techniques and offering financial education. The programmes will also encourage indigenous Papuans to look into the benefits of working together more closely in co-operative or self-help groups.

  • Improving livelihoods
    Oxfam is working with local partners in Papua to improve and expand local agricultural practices so that indigenous Papuan farmers can lift themselves out of poverty.
  • Better returns on coffee
    Deep in the remote, mountainous valleys of Papua, several thousand indigenous farmers are growing high quality organic arabica coffee. Chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are not used, making the coffee rare and valuable. With the support of Oxfam, these growers are starting to get a fair price for their coffee from national and international markets.

Indonesia profile

Indonesia is spread across an archipelago of more than 17,500 islands and is home to 240 million people, making it the world’s fourth largest country by population. More than half of the population lives in poverty. Read the country profile here.

Poverty in Papua

  • Adult literacy is 27 per cent (compared with 87 per cent Indonesian average)
  • Infant mortality rate is 70-200 per 1000 (49 per 1000 Indonesian average)
  • Life expectancy is 40 years (67 Indonesian average)
  • GDP per capita is US$450 (US$680 Indonesian average.
  • There is continuing conflict between the indigenous population and over 1,300,000 Javanese, Sumatran, and Eastern Indonesia migrants fuelled by land alienation, huge extractive industries that provide few local benefits, political repression, human rights abuses by army and government officials, and the practice of a diverse range of religions including Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, and animism.
  • Huge areas of bio-diversity and mineral wealth are being systematically destroyed by illegal logging and other corrupt practices dominated by Indonesians and outsiders.

Source: UNDP, 2004.

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