Transmigration in Indonesia

By Alex Jackson

Last updated on

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The content on this page is extremely old. Much has changed in the world since this article was written. While many of the concepts will still be relevant, figures and case studies are likely to be outdated at this point.

Transmigration was a scheme created by the Indonesian government to ease overpopulation in the capital of Java by moving people from the “core” area to the less populated areas of Indonesia (known as the “periphery”). The government provided land, money & fertiliser for those who move for 18 months in order to allow them to sustain a small farm. The main aims of transmigration where:

  • To create a balanced demographic spread by easing population density in Java, Bali & Madura and increasing the density in less developed areas.
  • To eliminate poverty by providing land for the landless.
  • To exploit the outer islands of Indonesia.

Problems With Indonesia’s Transmigration Policy

  • Indonesia’s outer islands contain 10% of the world’s remaining rain forests, which where destroyed by transmigrants.
  • Resettlement was political, to remove the indigenous population from the outer islands.
  • It was aimed at the forced assimilation of indigenous people such as forest dwellers.
  • The project costed the Indonesian government $7,000 per family and was an economic disaster, worsening Indonesia’s national debt.
  • It had little effect on reducing Java’s population. Poverty was worsened due to poor farming conditions (low quality soil), no access to markets and poor site preparation.