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Research Report

Poverty and Decentralisation in Kutai Barat: The Impacts of Regional Autonomy on Dayak Benuaq Wellbeing

Michaela Haug
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2007
Pages: 60
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-6)

    Through the implementation of decentralisation reforms, local governments in many countries gained increased political authority and decision-making power, providing them with better opportunities to influence the wellbeing of their constituents. These governments could implement more effective poverty alleviation if they had better tools and more precise methods for prioritising actions and evaluating impacts. The CIFOR–BMZ research project Making Local Government More Responsive to the Poor: Developing Indicators and Tools to Support Sustainable Livelihood under Decentralization assisted local governments in Indonesia (Kutai Barat and Malinau) and Bolivia (Pando) from 2003 to 2006 to improve the impact of their poverty alleviation...

  2. (pp. 7-12)

    The district (kabupaten) of Kutai Barat came into existence in October 1999 and comprises the western part of the former district of Kutai. With its vast remote areas, its rich natural resources, but poor people, Kutai Barat represents a typical district of many forested areas in the tropics. Three areas are distinguished within the district according to their geographical characteristics: upstream areas (ulu riam), lowland areas (daratan rendah), and highland regions (daratan tinggi).

    With decentralisation, the budget of local government increased significantly.10 Most efforts were put into the erection of the new district government and infrastructure development. However, new economic...

  3. (pp. 13-37)

    The Dayak Benuaq share a common understanding of poverty, which is largely based on a household’s economic situation. Commonly, people are considered ‘poor’ if they suffer material deprivation and experience difficulties in fulfilling basic needs such as food, housing and clothing, while people are considered ‘rich’ on the basis of obvious material wealth. However, in the Dayak Benuaq language no uniform expressions15 for ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ exist, and people mainly use the Indonesian terms ‘miskin’ and ‘kaya’.

    Beyond this rather economic understanding of poverty, the Dayak Benuaq share an emic concept of a good life, which they call bolupm bueq...

  4. (pp. 38-40)

    The Dayak Benuaq distinguish between a common understanding of poverty—which in a rather narrow sense is based on material deprivation—and the concept of a good life (bolupm bueq) and a bad life (bolupm daat), comprising a broad variety of economic, social, political and emotional aspects. Inquiries into the most important wellbeing aspects showed that the fulfilment of ‘basic needs’, an economically secure livelihood and good social relations lie at the heart of Dayak Benuaq wellbeing. What is considered to be most important for one’s own wellbeing varies little between men and women and only slightly among different age...

  5. (pp. 41-43)

    After demonstrating the positive and negative impacts that decentralisation had on Dayak Benuaq wellbeing and providing insights into the causal relations and trade-offs among the recent trends, the question arises: what could be done to reduce the negative impacts and strengthen the positive developments? Our project team has worked out a number of general recommendations, as well as some very specific methodological and practice-oriented suggestions for the improvement of poverty monitoring and the implementation of poverty alleviation strategies in Kutai Barat (Andrianto 2006; Cahyat et al. 2007; CIFOR 2007; Gönner et al. 2007a, b).

    The chances of overcoming poverty and...