Rapid population growth to affect basic necessities

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesias rapid population growth poses a great challenge to the country as it works to provide the populations basic necessities, including clothing, foods and shelter, a superior education and proper health services.

Further, rapid population growth may slow national development, and therefore the government must seriously address this problem by putting in place family planning programs.

The population in a country is the most basic asset needed to implement development, but uncontrolled population growth might become an obstacle to assuring economic growth.

"A shockingly large population that isnt offset by adequately high-quality human resources could create another, more serious, problem," National Family Planning and Population Board (BKKBN) Chief Fasli Jalal said here on Thursday.

Indonesias population boom is becoming increasingly alarming because it is not balanced by adequate human resources, noted Fasli.

The total population in Indonesia was last recorded at 245.9 million in 2012, but Jalal said that in 2013 it is projected to reach 250 million, with a growth rate of 1.49 percent per year, or an increase of four to five million people.

"This means 10 thousand babies are born every day," Jalal stated, adding that the quality of Indonesian human resources remains low, as indicated by the Indonesian Human Development Index, which ranks Indonesia 124 of 182 countries.

He explained that Indonesia is currently the worlds fourth most populous country, after China, India, and the United States, though its population is expected to jump to 321 million by 2025.

Today, the population of Indonesia represents 3.51 percent of the worlds total population, which arguably means that one in every 29 people on earth is a resident of Indonesia.

This is a huge figure and, therefore, the government should pay serious attention to this problem so the population does not drastically increase.

Besides this, Jalal added, the uneven distribution of the population is also a concern, with 58 percent of the population living on Java Island, even though it only accounts for seven percent of the total area of the country.

Uncontrolled population growth will automatically become a burden, and therefore the family planning program should become one of the pillars of the nation's development policy in the population field.

During an event on World Contraception Day in September 2013, Vice President Boediono noted that the family planning program has been marginalized for the sake of achieving short-term interests during the reform era.

Therefore, the vice president asked all stakeholders to give priority to the family planning program in an effort to achieve the ideal demographic target envisioned by the nation.

He said the family planning program was a multidimensional plan run jointly by the central government, the regional administrations and relevant agencies.

Meanwhile, BKKBN spokesperson Ambar Rahayu admitted that the national family planning program has experienced a change following the weakening of the governments resolve to maintain it.

"The family planning program was once an integral part of the national development program, but now it is no longer a priority because short-term programs, other than family planning, have become a top priority for regional governments," Ambar said here on Thursday.

She pointed out that the national family planning and population program had stagnated over the past 10 years and shown no improvements in maintaining population targets.

"The total fertility rate remained at 2.6 percent, while the use of modern contraception edged up slowly by 0.5 percent in the past five years, from 57.4 percent in 2007 to 57.9 percent in 2012," she noted.

Further, Ambar said the stagnant condition of the population and family planning program had impacted areas where its operational activities were on the decline.

Therefore, Coordinating Minister for Peoples Welfare Agung Laksono expressed hope that the program would continue to be properly managed to prevent its continued stagnation.

"The family planning and population program has been stagnant over the past 10 years and, therefore, we have to resolve this situation as part of our efforts to suppress the population growth rate," Laksono remarked here on Thursday.

"It is necessary to revitalize the program as soon as possible because the results of the Indonesian health and demographic survey in 2012 (SDKI 2012) indicated that the number of people who failed to receive family planning services was very high, and the medium-term development target was far from being met," he went on.

Laksono said the program should be revitalized by providing more intensive family planning information to the public.

The minister noted that the current population growth rate in Indonesia was still very high and the number of parents having more than two children remains large.

He has also asked regional governments to set a higher priority for population and family planning programs.

"Regional governments should strengthen their commitment to improving the population and family planning program," Laksono said here on Thursday.

Many regional governments prefer short term programs, but ignore discussing population and family planning programs as a strategic issue during regional election campaigns, said Laksono.

"The regional government fails to include the population and family planning program in the Regional Midterm Development Program (RPJMD). Consequently, the program has rarely been properly supported using regional funds," he noted.

Laksono expressed his hope that the national family planning and population program would continue to be well-managed so it does not become stagnant in the future.

Therefore, the National Family Planning and Population Board has launched two social media accounts to promote the "Generation With Plan" (GenRe) program to young people.

The GenRe program aims to provide information to young people about how to carefully plan their lives. The program also calls on young people to contribute to population control programs by living healthy lives and avoiding causal sexual encounters.

The use of social media to promote these program is important, considering that most young Indonesians have social media accounts.