The two provinces in Indonesia’s east, Papua and West Papua continue to get attention from the government in terms of development. Several indicators suggest that the social system of West Papua will improve between 2019 and 2022.
The Development of the Social System of West Papua
The poverty rate in Papua decreased from 28.40% to 27.53% over that time. In comparison, the rate in West Papua decreased from 25.72% to 22.17%. West Papua’s Human Development Index increased from 61.73 to 64.7, whereas Papua’s increased from 57.25 to 60.84.
According to Presidential Instruction Number 9 of 2020 About the Acceleration of Welfare Development in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, this improvement is per that directive.
An Overview of the Social System in West Papua
Joko Widodo has traveled to West Papua more frequently than any Indonesian president. Under his leadership, efforts to speed the development of the social system of West Papua have substantially expanded.
“Jokowi” made some excellent early actions, freeing several political prisoners from West Papua and declaring the lifting of restrictions on access for foreign media to West Papua.
Jokowi’s quick development project connected some remote settlements with West Papuan economic growth areas to enhance access to transportation and services, including power. Even though West Papua’s human development index (HDI) has recently increased, major health problems persist, especially in rural areas.
Rice and imported products replaced traditional rural diets during a significant measles outbreak in Asmat Regency in 2017–18, leading to malnutrition and the reported mortality of 60–70 children.
Policy Challenges in West Papua for Indonesia
President Jokowi’s initiative to speed up infrastructure and development has found traction in West Papua. He plans to keep up this effort after being re-elected in 2019. Additionally, Indonesia will keep up its increased security presence.
Threats by the TPNPB against the infrastructure project will only lead Indonesia to increase its security presence in West Papua. As a result, it will decrease the likelihood of a peaceful outcome. As Indonesia’s population expands, people will migrate to West Papua in search of resources and space.
According to a source close to the West Papuan government, the region’s rapid development “stunned” the occasional Pacific delegations who have recently visited. On the other hand, the Trans-Papua Highway essentially serves the interests of non-West Papuans, the military, and the police, as demonstrated by the TPNPB’s support of the Nduga attack. West Papuans typically have this mentality.
Infrastructural Development and Deforestation
Deforestation continues to be a severe issue. West Papua is one of the world’s hotspots for deforestation. Thankfully, Jakarta has only begun to address it.
Concessions for oil palm and logging are no longer being distributed. Another problem that West Papua is now dealing with is the possibility of religious strife. Christians and Muslims have coexisted harmoniously for many years in the predominantly Christian nation of West Papua.
The growth of orthodox Islam across Indonesia and migration, which is increasingly changing the country’s demographics, are further issues. Additionally, future interreligious conflicts might result in similar occurrences like the destruction of the mosque in Tolikara, a Highlands village.
Last but not least, Indonesia’s management of the COVID-19 war in the region will seriously impair the effectiveness of the social system of West Papua.
These socioeconomic and environmental limitations support the social structure of West Papua. If the cycle is not broken, West Papuans will feel even more marginalized. In addition, the TPNPB will keep causing difficulties, Indonesia will increase security measures, and MSG divisions will amplify.
Papua and West Papua are the two provinces of Indonesia that are the furthest east. Joko Widodo’s administration has expedited West Papua’s social system. The Human Development Index for West Papua rose from 61.73 to 64.7, while the index for Papua rose from 57.25 to 60.84.
There are still substantial issues with things like health despite these developments. The Trans-Papua Highway is particularly advantageous to the military, the police, and outsiders from the social system of West Papua. In West Papua, a country with a sizeable Christian population, Muslims and Christians have peacefully coexisted for many years.