Alarming Facts of Poverty in Indonesia and The Plans Forward

poverty in indonesia

Alarming Facts of Poverty in Indonesia and The Plans Forward

Poverty is a crucial issue that is still happening around the world, including in developing countries like Indonesia. Poverty in Indonesia has been an issue that became government’s concern, moreover in the current situation influenced by COVID-19 pandemic.

In today’s topic regarding poverty in Indonesia, I would like to talk about the meaning of poverty itself, the last reports on poverty in Indonesia, and the government’s way to help reduce the poverty issue in Indonesia.


Poverty is considered as a situation when a person is not able to fulfill the minimum fundamental needs in life. It is not easy to determine or describe poverty, that is because poverty itself is multi-dimensional. That being said, the government is trying to find the answer by conducting various seminars and conventions to determine poverty by approaching the monetary approach.

After they have done the seminars and such, the next step is to calculate the poverty line in Indonesia. Poverty line in Indonesia is the number in rupiah which is needed for someone to live a good life. Someone who has an income/expense less than that poverty line is categorized as poor. Other indicator that someone’s life is below the poverty line is when they could not fulfill the fundamental needs in life, as in to afford buying food, clothes, and a living space or house.

According to Sustainable Development Goals: A Case Study in Indonesia, there are two fundamental needs that are hard to be fulfilled by people below the poverty line:

  1. People that do not have productive wealth beside their physical health. The development and preservation of wealth is based on their chance to be given public service, like education, health services, and clean water which often times not provided for them.
  2. Even if they have better income, it might not help them to fix their living situation. That is, if the goods and services that they need don’t have the same standards as their income.


The graphic for proportion of population living below the national poverty line
Source: Bapennas

According to the data from Badan Pusat Statistika (BPS), since 2015 up until 2019, the population of Indonesian people living below the poverty line kept decreasing, which means there is consistent economic growth. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made all those works undone. When the pandemic hits, millions of people are losing their jobs and experiencing a decrease in their household income, which results in the increase in poverty rate.

In 2019, there were 9.41% people in Indonesia living below the poverty line. A new data from Asian Development Bank. Basic Statistics 2021 (specifically April 2021), the proportion of Indonesia population living below the poverty line is up to 9.8%. If we translate those poverty rates to the numbers of Indonesian population, the number of poor increased from 25.42 million to 26.47 million.

Based on those numbers, we can conclude that more than 1 million people in Indonesia is experiencing a decrease in their living standards. Not to mention that there are still millions of people struggling to survive in these trying times. Whew, that is a lot!


Household Income during COVID-19 pandemic
Source: Databoks

Lots of surveys have been conducted in order to know how far COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting people’s income throughout the year. The graphic provided is a survey by Indikator Politik Indonesia. The survey was conducted on February 2021 with 1,200 respondents across Indonesia. The result is as stated:

  • 72.6% respondent experiencing a decrease in their income.
  • 23.4% respondent have steady income.
  • 2.4% respondent experiencing an increase in their income.
  • Meanwhile, the rest 1,7% did not answer.

That result is different from the previous year. On October 2020, the same survey was conducted, and it results there are 66.6% people was experiencing a decrease in their income.

From the data provided, we can see that as the time goes, there are even more people in the risk of losing their income, losing their chance to maintaining a good life, and live below the poverty line.


We are aware that COVID-19 pandemic has affected life in almost every aspect. Since then, the Indonesian government is required to have a solution-oriented mind. Solving poverty issue is not an easy job. The increasing number of people living below the poverty line makes it really challenging to cook for the best solution possible.

Did you know, that Indonesia has a 20-year economic planning, starting at the year 2005 until 2025? However, we can not make all-detailed plans for the whole 20 years because the country situation each year may be changing. For example, in 2020 we had COVID-19 outbreak that no one anticipated in previous years.

For that reason, they segmented that 20-year plan into 5-year medium-term plans. It is called RPJMN (Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Nasional), each with different development priorities. The current medium-term development plan runs from 2020-2024, which is the last phase of the long-term plan. It aims to further strengthen Indonesia’s economy by improving the country’s human capital and competitiveness in the global market.

Meanwhile, in Rencana Kerja Pemerintah (RKP) 2021, it is desired that the goal of equitable development can be achieved by utilizing local sources to help solving the issue of poverty in Indonesia.

According to, Assistant Deputy of Poverty Handling at the Coordinating Ministry of Human and Culture Development (Kemenko PMK), Ade Rustama, explained that one of the strategies for strengthening community empowerment programs is to update the Integrated Social Welfare Data (DTKS) from the local government, district, to village levels.

Mr. Ade stated that one of the final goals of DTKS is an integrated social assistance, digitalizing distribution, targeting affirmations, and improving basic services. He also stated that the community empowerment program is a priority in solving poverty in Indonesia.

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