Michael Hoppe, Heiko Faust:
Livelihood Strategies of the Rural Poor in Indonesia -- Evidence from Transmigrant Villages in Central-Sulawesi


1Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Centre for Advanced Training in Rural Development, Germany
2Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of Geography, Department of Social and Cultural Geography, Germany

The resettlement scheme transmigrasi has the objectives to decrease poverty and unemployment in the overpopulated areas of Java and Bali and to improve living standards for the transmigrants. But most selected families belonged to the landless poor and it has been argued that the poverty was only transferred to the outer islands through resettlement. These critics point out that in many cases the natural potential of the chosen resettlement sites were low and the preparation insufficient. The empirical findings of our research in two transmigration settlements in Central Sulawesi justify the general conclusion that integration of the migrants mainly from Java and Bali has not been achieved. In both villages out-migration set off shortly after the resettlers had arrived. The persisting households employed a variety of strategies, including off-farm activities and forest clearing, to secure their livelihoods. The encroachment into the national park and the clearing of secondary and primary forest is the outcome of failures in project planning, implementation, and maintenance. If in addition the financial and material support for the resettlers is not provided the struggle for survival leads to unsustainable use of the resources without another choice. Furthermore the migrants are in an inferior political position. Due to their status as `migrants' they lack bargaining power in negotiations with the local communities. This has an impact on the use of the natural resources because they were not able to cultivate their allocated land and secondly, they were forced to move to another location in the primary forest. Additionally off-farm activities played an important role to secure the livelihood of the transmigrants. One major off-farm source of income has been wage labour on a nearby tea plantation. It provided the minimum income the settlers needed to survive until they could obtain the first yields. Farm labour on the fields of other farmers in the settlement or in the surrounding villages has been another way of gaining additional income. The Balinese could moreover benefit from the network of Balinese communities in Central-Sulawesi where they found the opportunity to work as farm labourers.

Keywords: Migration, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, livelihood strategies, rural poor


Contact Address: Heiko Faust, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of Geography, Department of Social and Cultural GeographyGoldschmidtstraße 5, 37077 Göttingen, Germany, e-mail: hfaust@gwdg.de
Andreas Deininger, September 2004