The Role of NGOs in West Papua

West Papua
Source : CNN Indonesia

The presence of nonprofit organizations or NGOs in West Papua is very palpable. As a newly developing area, there are many concerns about the livelihood of people there. Not to mention that political instability has plagued some of its rural areas. Let’s see the role of these organizations to the betterment of the province.

West Papua
Source : Gatra

Major Issues Tackled by NGOs

As a developing region, there are many issues that Papua people face. Tensions in some parts of the province and disparity issues are definitely present. Here are some major issues that NGOs try to help solve in West Papua:

  • Human rights issue

Human rights issues are prevalent in this region. It is because of the tension between the army and pro-independence groups. The groups that want the region to be separated from Indonesia are usually located in the rural parts. Thus, the social and political climate in those areas tend to be very unstable.

The government has worked hard to ensure that there are no human rights violations in the areas of conflict. However, they still happen every now and then. Many NGOs work hard to advocate changes in managing conflict in vulnerable areas. They also relayed the voices of Papua people to the international world.

  • Responsible forest management

A good and responsible forest management is also a major concern for many NGOs working with Papua people. In the previous decade, the forest loss was minimal, and even rated among the lowest in Indonesia. However, the acceleration of development may threaten that safe spot.

There are some key topics that NGOs want to tackle to develop responsible forest management in the province. The first topic is related to nature conservation. NGOs have advocated to turn certain areas into conservation so that they cannot be touched by developers. Another key topic is the plan to reduce greenhouse emission.

  • Micro-enterprise development

NGOs are also interested in micro-enterprise development in this province. As known, the poverty rate of West Papua is relatively high compared to other provinces in Indonesia. Not to mention that wealth is not distributed equally. People living in rural areas do not get equal economic opportunities than those living in the city.

Because of that, NGOs want to advocate a higher rate of micro-enterprise development in various areas of this region. Locals are taught skills and finance management so that they can run their own small businesses. That way, Papua people can be more independent economically. Their quality of life can also improve.

  • Health sector

Health is also another area of concern that many NGOs, local and international, attempt to solve. The health resources such as health institutions, medicine provision, and medical care are limited. Not many people are able to receive the healthcare that they need.

However, the most vulnerable people in Papua’s health sector are the indigenous people. These people tend to live quite far from civilization. When they go to healthcare centers to ask for medical assistance, they are the most prone to discrimination. Because of that, NGOs try to advocate better care for these segments of the population.

The Works of NGOs in the Region

NGOs work in so many ways to advocate their causes for the people in West Papua. Here are some activities conducted by NGOs in the province to improve people’s welfare in many aspects:

  • Various programs

These programs are created with funding received from donors. The NGOs will build centers such as for education and healthcare that people can utilize for little to no fee at all. Additionally, the programs may also be training that are provided for free. Training aims to improve people’s skills in various areas of life.

  • Community-based research

Many NGOs also work in the region to conduct community-based research. It is not only done to obtain data about transitioning society, though. Results of these research are so important for the further development of this province. With research, the government can tailor policies that are science-based to ensure their effectiveness.

  • Advocating to government

NGOs also advocate certain issues to the government. They often work directly with the people in Papua and thus understand what the real situation is like. NGOs have a voice to raise this issue to the government. They can even suggest the most effective solutions for the issue to the government.

To make sure that the plans run smoothly, there must be synergy between NGOs and the government. Both parties have the same aim: improving the livelihood of people living in West Papua. NGOs and the government must be on the same page about their aims and modes of development.

It is quite difficult to achieve effective NGO programs, though. Here are some of the possible reasons:

  • NGOs and the government do not always see eye to eye.
  • Some NGOs are not managed properly, particularly in terms of finance.
  • Certain indigenous groups are not welcoming the foreigners.

Nonetheless, it is almost impossible to ignore the important role of NGOs in West Papua. We should thank them for the current development because they do lend a hand in it.