Indonesian cities urged to develop child-friendly facilities

INDONESIA - All city administrations in Indonesia should accelerate the establishment of facilities that support children's development toward building "child-friendly cities", a minister said.

Mayors should ensure that their areas are suitable for children by allocating adequate funds to build playgrounds, green open spaces, sports facilities and other infrastructure that support childhood development and fulfillment of their rights, Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar, minister for Women's Empowerment and Child Protection, said on Tuesday.

"The establishment of those facilities has not been a priority, while there are more and more areas converted into business districts," she said at the opening of a coordination meeting with city and regency administrations nationwide in Kuta to evaluate the implementation of child-friendly city programs initiated in 2006.

Currently, there were only 110 of 500 cities nationwide committed toward building child-friendly cities, as reflected in their development programs. Of the 110 total, 60 are being assisted by the ministry to realize their programs, while the remaining 50 have been able to be self-sufficient in building infrastructure for children through budget allocations.

To accelerate implementation of the programs, the ministry is now drafting a Roadmap on the Acceleration of Children's Rights Fulfillment.

The ministry is also encouraging the private sector to support its child-related policies by incorporating the fulfillment of children's rights in their main Corporate Social Responsibility programs. In this issue, the ministry works together with several organizations, including UNICEF, Global Compact Network Indonesia and Save the Children. Earlier this year, they established the Association of Child-Friendly Companies.

On the sidelines of the three-day meeting, 265 participants - representatives of city administrations, visited several places in Denpasar and Badung that had been declared as good examples of child-friendly facilities.

These places are the daycare center at the Badung regency administration's office, child facilities at Badung hospital, and the center of activity for marginalized children in Denpasar.

According to the ministry, there are 84 million children in Indonesia, accounting for 34 percent of the total population.

Despite the great potential of children for the future of national development, Indonesia had yet to be able to address many child-related problems, the minister admitted.

"Violence and exploitation against children are still rampant. Malnutrition is still a big problem in many areas. This indicates that we are still facing problems in creating prosperity in children's welfare because we lack integrated efforts in child development," she said.

In its newest report, UNICEF illustrated the condition of children's welfare in Indonesia. The UN body estimated that 52 percent of Indonesian children do not have access to clean water, while 4.5 percent die before the age of five years old due to preventable diseases. The data also showed that 2.3 million children in the country, aged between seven to 15 years old, dropped out of school.

The country ranks third in the world in terms of immunization coverage, as 1.8 million children in Indonesia did not receive complete vaccines. It ranks fifth in terms of prevalence of stunting (being under average height for age), as the condition affects 1 out of 3 children in Indonesia.

A 2012 study by UNICEF and the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) showed that 44.3 million Indonesian children lived in poverty on under US$2 (S$2.50) per day.