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Public Sanitation

In the late 1980s, only 40 percent of the urban population and 18 percent of the rural residents had access to a reliable public water system. Most middle- and lower-class Indonesians relied on surface supplies from the country's frequently polluted streams, canals, and water catchment areas. The majority of rural dwellers obtained water from ground sources. Approximately 27 percent of rural residents relied on rivers and streams that also were used for bathing and waste disposal. Studies conducted by WHO during 1987 indicated that 80 percent of all open wells were contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria and were unfit for consumption. Water pumped by hand or obtained from rivers in eight rural provinces was also bacteriologically unsafe.

In urban areas, such as Jakarta, many residents were without adequate water supplies because of improperly maintained pipe networks and urban "water pirates" who illegally tapped into municipal resources. This situation gave rise to the popularity in the early 1990s of commercially purified water sold in sealed plastic containers.

Most Indonesians in the early 1990s lacked access to a system of municipal waste disposal that met modern standards. Even in urban areas, WHO estimated that 25 percent of residents were without proper sanitation. Many commercial and residential areas were served by a waterborne sewage system of open drainage canals discharging raw wastes directly into rivers or the ocean. In the slum areas of Jakarta, residents were subject to frequent flooding and the outbreak of waterborne diseases resulting from clogged sewers.

In society, education, and health, the national motto, Unity in Diversity, survived dozens of tests since independence. The increasingly thorough penetration of the central government bureaucracy into village life improved access to education and health. Rising trends toward interregional mobility and migration were factors tending toward greater integration of health care resources. However, this rising integration was achieved at the cost of participation in the decision-making process. Many groups wishing to assert their ethnic identities in ways that went beyond the aestheticized and highly restricted vision of ethnicity promoted by the Department of Education and Culture encountered resistance or even outright suppression. Achieving a sustainable balance between these various interests will doubtless prove to be one of the central challenges facing the Indonesia in the coming decades.

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There are several useful sources that give a broad perspective on the cultures of Indonesia. For an overview of ethnolinguistic diversity, see Stephen A. Wurm and Shiro Hattori's Language Atlas of the Pacific Area. Another more dated, but still useful, source is Frank M. LeBar's Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia, which gives brief anthropological descriptions of many major ethnic groups. The classic source for Southeast Asian geography remains Ernst Henry George Dobby's South East Asia. For a demographic perspective on population growth, health, labor, and migration, see Graeme J. Hugo and others' The Demographic Dimension in Indonesian Development.

For several good articles on the role of religion in Indonesia, see Indonesian Religions in Transition edited by Rita Smith Kipp and Susan Rodgers. Javanese culture is described in Clifford Geertz's The Religion of Java and Peddlers and Princes. A good survey of beliefs and practices associated with sex and gender in Indonesia can be found in Jane Monnig Atkinson and Shelley Errington's Power and Difference: Gender in Island Southeast Asia. Michael R. Dove's The Real and Imagined Role of Culture in Development is a collection of essays about the relationship between Indonesian national programs of development and local ethnic cultures. Karl Heider's Indonesian Cinema: National Culture on Screen provides an interesting perspective on Indonesian national culture. (For additional information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of November 1992

Country Listing

Indonesia Table of Contents