Call for Robust Socio-economic Research in West Papua

West Papua
Source : Suara

Successful policies always come from real data. To obtain accurate data about the condition in a place, research must be conducted. In the case of West Papua, there have been calls for socio-economic research that is robust. Research in this sector is expected to improve the welfare of local people who are often at a vulnerable position.

West Papua
Source : Kontan

The Impacts of Good Socio-economic Research

It might be unclear to some people how socio-economic research can help a society progress in the right direction. Here are some benefits that we can get from a good socio-economic research:

1. Research helps measuring impacts of current policies/programs

With socio-economic research, we can assess the impact of current policies or any program done by the government. In the past, people considered impact based on what they see. Because of this, the view of impact tends to be inaccurate. When there are issues with certain programs, they tend to be overlooked until they completely fail.

When conducting socio-economic research, there are some parameters to be analyzed. The parameters are:

  • The stakeholders being involved in the program.
  • The operationale of the program being conducted.
  • The cost of implementing the program.
  • The contribution of the program to stakeholders and the environment.
  • The risks for implementing the program.

2. Research helps people to learn for the better

This particular benefit of socio-economic research is heavily related to the previous point. Research can help assess various parameters in a program or policy’s impact. With that assessment result, people can learn the best way to approach a socio-economic issue. In this case, it is a socio-economic issue in West Papua.

There are two ways to approach this situation. If the current policy or program is deemed costly and ineffective, it is better to drop the program altogether and search for an alternative. However, if the problem is more about efficiency and the program actually works, impact assessment helps to detect the problems and their solutions.

3. Research enables arrangement of priority

Resources that are needed for development are limited. At a specific timeframe, the government is only able to tackle certain issues. If it insists on solving all problems at once, the result is likely to be disappointing. It would also be a waste of resources when the policies or programs are ineffective.

With research, the government is going to be able to make a priority list. This list provides information about which sector that should be the main focus at the moment. A priority list can even provide an idea of the size of fund needed to make that policy or program work. And this list is based on the real needs of people.

4. Research allows the community to be active participants

Perhaps, this is the most important part of socio-economic research in West Papua. We have known that for years, the voice of Papua people is unheard. A lot of the time, people do not get the chance to voice their opinions related to policies or programs implemented in the region. This is a troublesome situation.

At the end of the day, it is Papua people who will implement the policy and receive its results. Thus, it is important that the policies cater to their needs. In socio-economic research, researchers tend to gather data from locals (e.g., through surveys and interviews) and translate the results to reports that will be read by policymakers.

Commonly, studies in the realm of socio-economic development encompass topics like:

  • Gross domestic product
  • Life expectancy of local people
  • Levels of employment
  • The rate of literacy among locals

How Can the Government Improve Research?

Seeing how important socio-economic research is for the development of this province, the government needs to make sure that there are more studies conducted in the region on its people. There are two main ways to elevate the rate of high quality socio-economic research in the region:

1. Working with nonprofit organizations

It seems necessary to reach out to nonprofit organizations to conduct socio-economic research in West Papua. These organizations have independent funds that can be used to pay for research. Additionally, some organizations are well-seasoned in this type of research. They have experts that can ensure high quality research.

2. Revitalizing research program in local universities

The second one is the ideal situation. It is to utilize the local resources, namely local universities. Universities are filled with talented researchers. However, oftentimes, they do not receive enough funds to conduct their studies properly. Government can provide funds for local universities to perform research. The benefits include:

  • People from local universities better understand the living conditions in the region.
  • The fund improves the quality of research in local universities.
  • Young students can get involved in the research which can empower them.
  • Opening up opportunities for research collaboration with universities in other regions.

West Papua is in dire need of more socio-economic studies of its own people. High quality research can lead to fast-rate development in the region. It is an opportunity of collaboration for many stakeholders.