Jakarta, Indonesia: capital of Southeast Asia’s largest democracy and the fourth most populous country in the world at 238 million (2011 data). Home to over 23 million people, the Greater Jakarta Area (Jabodetabek) is the largest megacity in Asia and the third largest in the world.
To outsiders, Jakarta is a shining example of Indonesia’s development. To businesses, it is a thriving market with a skilled labour force and skyrocketing consumption rates. To its middle class, it is a city that is still able to provide everything they need, despite stressful levels of congestion. But to its poor, Jakarta presents a very different picture.
Jakarta’s poor live in the scattered pockets of urban slums and witness a very different side of the city. To the poor, Jakarta is a city where basic services are out of reach and decent job opportunities are scarce. Despite their best efforts, they struggle even for minimum subsistence. How can a city growing so fast leave so many behind?
This issue of the Asian Trends Monitoring (ATM) Bulletin attempts to shed some light on the “darker” side of Jakarta, by sharing the stories of people on the ground and the few organisations that are working hard to help them. Specifically, we focus on two major themes: violence among slum dwellers and internal migration. In addition to being integral to the Jakarta story, both themes are major urban trends that present a palpable danger to an aspiring megacity. Without job opportunities and a realistic chance of breaking out of the cycle of poverty, the urban poor could grow into a serious social and economic risk for the capital’s development.
The ATM team visited Jakarta in February as the first leg of our field research on urban poverty. In this issue, we also share our latest findings, including primary data gathered from our Poverty Profile Survey. Future issues will include more such data from other cities such as Manila, Hanoi, and Vientiane.