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Government told to prepare for population boom

Jakarta Post - October 20, 2010

Jakarta – The Indonesian government should begin making plans for an increasing population, as uncontrolled growth would lead to a multi-dimensional crisis, experts say.

Dr. Khairil Anwar Notodiputro of the Bogor Agricultural University said Indonesia's population growth rate stood at 1.49 percent per year from 2000 to 2010, higher than the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) estimate after the 2000 census of 1.34 percent per year.

"A missed projection of more than 0.1 percent growth means something for Indonesia. We can neither overlook nor ignore the implications of such a growth rate," Khairil said.

He added that this growth, if unchecked, could create problems related to food and energy security, land allocation, natural resources and environmental degradation.

Indonesia should look at the figures as an "early warning," signaling the possibility of problems in the next 15 to 30 years, he said, adding that the government needed to begin planning for the future.

"If the population continues to increase without any improvement in infrastructure and education, Indonesia will face unprecedented social and ecological disasters," said Khairil, who is also chairman of the Indonesia Statisticical Association.

The United Nations has predicted Indonesia's population will reach 263 million by 2025, placing it fourth after China, India and the United States. Indonesia needed to learn from China, which had prepared strategies to overcome a possible population boom, Khairil said.

"We can start thinking about the potential of productive land, energy and natural resources, and how such potential can meet the needs of the population as a whole," he said.

However, according to BPS social statistics deputy Wynandin Imawan, the 2010 census results should be used not only to monitor population growth, but also to accelerate progress toward 2015 development goals. "One thing we need to pay attention to is the unequal population distribution across the country," Wynandin said.

Indonesia's population is largely concentrated on the island of Java, home to 57.49 percent of the total population, but which only accounts for 7 percent of Indonesia's total land area.

"We need to start conducting more statistical analyses to measure the nationwide discrepancies in infrastructure planning, education, gender participation and poverty, among other things," Wynandin said.

The BPS conducted the 2010 census in May, with 700,000 census officials deployed to survey around 65 million households across Indonesia.