Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 05/12/2011 10:04 AM | World
Australia has announced it will provide an estimated Rp 5.15 trillion (US$602.55 million) in development assistance to Indonesia this year, an increase of more than $100 million compared to last year.
Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarty said Australia’s aid program would focus on alleviating poverty through social protection programs, supporting governance reforms and improving the poor’s access to health, education, transportation, clean water and sanitation.
“The increase in aid funding demonstrates Australia’s long-term commitment to reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development in Indonesia,” he said, adding that Australia would also support Indonesia to achieve its goal of giving every Indonesian child a quality basic education.
Moriarty said Australian aid would improve educational outcomes for more than 500,000 Indonesian children by creating schools and improving the quality of schooling children receive, including those with disabilities and children in impoverished and remote areas.
“Australia recognizes that sustainable and equitable economic growth in Indonesia can improve livelihoods, create job opportunities and raise household incomes. This is why we will increase our commitment in Indonesia by improving access to essential infrastructure services such as water, sanitation and transportation,” the ambassador said.
Australia has been trying hard to improve the quality of its relations with Indonesia in various sectors. Aside from government-to-government links, both governments have also worked on boosting people-to-people and business-to-business relations.
According to the Australian government, 400 Australian businesses currently operate in Indonesia in fields ranging from mining and agriculture to education, with total investment reaching A$4.7 billion (US$4.5 billion) in 2009. Australia has also been active in directly assisting regions by dealing with their respective local administrations.
Thanks to a new Australian government funded program, the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Decentralization (AIPD), marginalized groups in West Nusa Tenggara will have improved access to health, education and infrastructure.
Australia allocated A$62 million to the program for five years, the program also covering East Java, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua and West Papua.
Australia has also supported access to water and improved sanitation in seven districts in Central Java, with more than 13,000 houses in the area connected to piped water and a further 800 houses with waste water facilities.
Australia is working with Indonesia’s central and local governments to improve access to water and sanitation. This development assistance will reach about 420,000 people in over 80,000 poor urban households in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi.
The country is investing A$75 million over two years to improve water and sanitation in Indonesia.