Saturday, January 20, 2007

Homelessness in Indonesia
By Tuah Gintang
Takushoku University

Good afternoon gentlemen. Thank for your coming. Have you ever seen homeless people? What did you feel when you saw them? I am here to talk about my research about homelessness in Indonesia. Before we start I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Tuah Ginting and I am a foreign exchange student from Indonesia at Takushoku University. In my presentation I’m going to look at three main areas. First, I’ll talk about the population of Indonesia and what percentage of it consists of homeless people. After that I will tell you about the homeless in Indonesia and the cause of homelessness in Indonesia, and finally, I’ll talk about what we can do to help solve the problem of homelessness in Indonesia. My presentation will take around 10 minutes. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them at the end of my talk.

So let’s start by looking at the population of Indonesia. Indonesia’s 2000 National Census showed that its total population is 203.4 million, of which 3.2 million (1.6%) are categorised as those who do not have a permanent place to live. Under this category are lumped together ship crewmembers, people living in houseboats or floating houses, nomadic groups of people (usually living in remote areas) as well as people who live and spend their nights in marketplaces, bus and railway stations, under bridges, and near city garbage dumps. Ok, that’s all I want to say about the population of Indonesia and the demographic make-up of homelessness in Indonesia.

Right, let’s move on to the cause of homelessness in Indonesia. Why do people become homeless? As in many other places in the world, the biggest cause of homelessness is urbanization. People from outside come to the city in order to realize their dreams and because they want to be successful people without good preparation like an education and a life strategy. And once they are in the big city, they can’t find a job and they can’t earn money for their life. Since they have failed to make their dream come true, they have no money and they can’t go back to the place where they came from, they sleep in any place they can find, and they beg or scavenge garbage bins for food. People like this are called gelandangan. They never wash and they barely communicate with other people.

I interviewed some homeless people in Jakarta, and I asked them why they became homeless. Almost of them came from outside the city, before they came to Jakarta they were farmers, but they weren’t satisfied with the money they got from farming. They thought that they could get a job in the city easily. When they came to Jakarta, the reality wasn’t as good as what they thought, and they faced many problems. They couldn’t earn money and they became homeless.

Some problems are caused by unemployment, or people who lose their job because of the country’s economic condition. In 1998, following the overthrow of President Suharto, conditions in Indonesia got worse, and the most significant problem was the economic crisis. Many companies and businesses closed or they had to decrease the number of employees.

Another problem that caused homelessness is the city’s development. For example, Asian Human Rights Commission made the following report, “… on January 11th 2006, approximately 125 semi-permanent houses were bulldozed by civil and military officers, forcibly evicting 140 families from their homes in Kampung Melayu ,Jatinegara, and East Jakarta. This incident is the latest in a series of forced evictions related to the 35 kilometre Double-Double Track Railway Project (DDT) along East Jakarta-Cikarang. Previous evictions occurred in Pisangan Timur, Jatinegara, East Jakarta on 4 January 2006. Approximately 458 buildings in Pisangan Timur were destroyed and 489 families are now homeless, living in temporary tents”

Ok, finally I’d like to turn to the most important point: what we can do to help solve the homelessness problem in Indonesia. I don’t think that homelessness can be solved only through charity but we have to give them some way to change their lives and be self-reliant. In the Indonesian homelessness situation, the better way to help is to give them a job opportunity or give them job training, and make a fund to start their own little business. One important thing we have to recognise is that poor homeless people are full citizens who have the same rights and responsibilities as other (urban) residents.

In conclusion, let me briefly go through the main points again. First I talked about the population of Indonesia and I hope you can remember that 1.6percent of the population are homeless people. Then I described homelessness in Indonesia and what the main homelessness problem in Indonesia is, and finally I shared what can we do to help homelessness in
Indonesia. Right, I think that’s everything. Let me finish by thanking you very much for your attention. And now, if you have any question, I’ll be happy to answer them.


Asian Human Rights Commission (n.d.) Retrieved January 20, 2007 from

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