Transmigration program

Transmigration program

The transmigration program (Indonesian: "Transmigrasi") was an initiative of the Indonesian government to move landless people from densely populated areas of Indonesia to less populous areas of the country. This involved moving people predominantly from the island of Java, but also to a lesser extent from Bali and Madura, to less densely populated areas including Papua, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi.

The stated purpose of this program was to reduce the considerable poverty and overpopulation on Java, to provide opportunities for hard-working poor people, and to provide a workforce to better utilize the natural resources of the outer islands. The program, however, has been controversial with critics accusing the Indonesian government of trying to use these migrants to reduce the proportion of native populations in receiving areas, thus weakening separatist movements. The program has often been cited as a major and ongoing factor in controversies and even conflict and violence between settlers and indigenous populations.


The policy was first initiated by the Dutch colonial government in the early nineteenth century to reduce crowding and to provide a workforce for plantations on Sumatra. The program diminished during the last years of the Dutch era, but was revived following Indonesian independence, in an attempt to alleviate the food shortages and weak economic performance during Sukarno's presidency in the two decades following WW2.

Under President Suharto, the program continued and was expanded to send migrants to more areas of the archipelago such as Papua. At its peak between 1979 and 1984, 535,000 families, or almost 2.5 million people, moved under the transmigration program. It had a major impact on the demographics of some regions; for example, in 1981 sixty percent of the three million people in the southern Sumatra province of Lampung were transmigrants. During the 1980s, the program was funded by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank as well as by bilateral donors.

Since the 1990s, violent conflict has occurred between some transmigrant and indigenous populations; in Kalimantan, hundreds were killed in fighting between Madurese transmigrants and the indigenous Dayak people.

In August 2000, after the Asian financial crisis and the fall of the Suharto government, the Indonesian government officially cancelled the large-scale transmigration program, due to a lack of funds.


The stated purpose of the program, according to proponents in the Indonesian government and the development community, was to move millions of Indonesians from the densely populated inner islands of Java, Bali and Madura to the outer, less densely populated islands to achieve a more balanced population density. This would alleviate poverty by providing land and new opportunities to generate income for poor landless settlers. It would also benefit the nation as a whole by increasing the utilization of the natural resources of the less-populous islands.

The program may have been intended to encourage the unification of the country through the creation of a single "Indonesian" national identity to augment or replace regional identities. Whether such a change is desirable remains disputed.


Indonesia's transmigration program was the target of extensive opposition, particularly from within indigenous populations in the regions where transmigrants were settled. Some foreign and domestic observers have also criticized the program's intentions and implementation.

Many indigenous people saw the program as a part of an effort by the Java-based Indonesian Government to extend greater economic and political control over other regions, by moving in people with closer ties to Java and loyalty to the Indonesian state. This was particularly resented amongst some in areas such as Papua, which had an active secessionist movement. The government agencies responsible for administering transmigration were often accused of being insensitive to local customary or "adat" land rights.

This has also resulted in communal clashes between the indigenous population and the transmigrants. For example, in 2001 the indigenous Dayaks and the transmigrant Madurese clashed during the Sampit conflict resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of Madurese being displaced.

Transmigration has also been blamed for accelerating the deforestation of sensitive rainforest areas, as formerly sparsely-populated areas experienced great increases in population. Migrants were often moved to entirely new "transmigration villages," constructed in regions that had been relatively unimpacted by human activity. By settling on this land, natural resources were used up and the lands became overgrazed, resulting in deforestation.

In many examples, the program also failed in its objective to improve the situation of the migrants. The soil and climate of their new locations were generally not nearly as productive as the volcanic soil of Java and Bali. The settlers were often landless people lacking in farming skills, let alone skills appropriate to the new land, thus compromising their own chances of success. [cite news | last =Max Sijabat | first =Ridwan | coauthors = | title =Unemployment still blighting the Indonesian landscape | work = | pages = | language = | publisher =The Jakarta Post | date =23 March 2007 | url =
accessdate =
] Despite major government spending, which in some years was equivalent to thirty or forty percent of the entire government budget for some outer islands, necessary investments in transportation, water, and education were lackingFact|date=February 2007.

Current Status

Under the restructured Department of Manpower and Transmigration (Indonesian: "Departemen Tenaga Kerja dan Transmigrasi") the Indonesian government maintains the transmigration program, although on a far smaller scale than in previous decades. The department assists in annually relocating approximately 15,000 families, or nearly 60,000 people. The rate has shown gradual increases in recent years with funding for transmigration activities at $270 million (2.3 trillion IDR) and a target of relocating 20,500 families in 2006. [cite web
last =Almubarok I | first =Zaky | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =Ditargetkan Transmigrasi 20.500 Keluarga (Target of 25,000 Families set for Transmigration | work =Berita Ketransmigration (Transmigration News) | publisher =Departeman Tenaga Kerja dan Transmigrasi (Department of Manpower and Transmigration) | date =16 May 2006
url = | format = | doi = | accessdate =
id icon

ee also

* Demographics of Indonesia
* Migration
* Political migration
* Human rights in western New Guinea
* Bumiputra and Bumiputera (Brunei)
* Melanesia



* Hardjono, J. 1989. The Indonesian transmigration program in historical perspective. "International migration" 26:427-439.
* Hollie, Pamela. 1981. Jakarta fights overcrowding Bali and Java. "The New York Times" January 11.
* Rigg, Jonathan. 1991. Land settlement in Southeast Asia: the Indonesian transmigration program. In: "Southeast Asia: a region in transition". London: Unwin Hyman. 80-108.
* MacAndrews, Colin. 1978. Transmigration in Indonesia: prospects and problems. "Asian Survey" 18(5):458-472.


External links

* " [ Indonesia - World Bank Admits Transmigration Failures] ", Martin Colchester, 1994. Report on settler-Dayak conflict in Kalimantan.
* " [ Kalimantan's Agony: The failure of Transmigrasi] ", American CNN news report, 2001.
* " [ "Indonesia's transmigration programme: an update] ", 2001 report by M.Adriana Sri Adhiati and Armin Bobsien (ed.) for "Down to Earth," a UK-based organization working on Indonesian environmental issues. Many details on the Suharto-era program and the changes since then. DtE is highly critical of transmigration.
* " [ Transmigration Settlement by Regency in Papua 2000–2003] ", Badan Pusat Statistik, Indonesian government.
* " [ Unemployment still blighting the Indonesian landscape] " - Review 2006, The Jakarta Post - Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno addresses concerns of new transmigrants for improving their wellbeing.
* " [ Golden promises] - Indonesian migrants find themselves pawns in a war for control of West Papua.
* " [ Report of the Worldbank on Transmigration in Indonesia] ".
* " [ Transmigration in Irian Jaya/West Papua]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Transmigration — may refer to:* Transmigration (album), the debut studio album by Crematory * Transmigration of the soul, a philosophy of reincarnation * Transmigration operation, a concept in solid modelling * Transmigration program, an initiative of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Western New Guinea — Geobox Region name = Western New Guinea native name = other name = West Papua category = Region image size = image caption = country = Indonesia part type = Provinces part count = 2 part = Papua part1 = West Papua city = Jayapura city1 =… …   Wikipedia

  • World Bank Group — The World Bank Group (WBG) is a family of five international organizations responsible for providing finance and advice to countries for the purposes of economic development and eliminating poverty. The Bank came into formal existence on 27… …   Wikipedia

  • Racism in Asia — BhutanIn 1991 92, Bhutan expelled roughly 100,000 ethnic Nepalis (Lhotshampa), most of whom have been living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal ever since. Nepali migrants are ethnically Indo Aryans and mainly Hindu. The Bhutanese are of… …   Wikipedia

  • Political migration — is any migration motivated primarily by political interests. Typically, political migration is in one of two classes, private or government, depending on who encourages the migration.Political migrations differ from other migrations by attempting …   Wikipedia

  • Religion in Indonesia — Religion plays a major role in life in Indonesia. It is stated in the first principle of the state ideology, Pancasila: belief in the one and only God . A number of different religions are practiced in Indonesia and their collective influence on… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Indonesia-related topics — This is a list of topics related to Indonesia. Those interested in the subject can monitor changes to the pages by clicking on Related changes ( alt k ) in the sidebar.This list can re read in conjunction with List of basic Indonesia topics… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Indonesia — Indonesia is an archipelagic country of 17,508 islands (6,000 inhabited) stretching along the equator in South East Asia. The country s strategic sea lane position fostered inter island and international trade; trade has since fundamentally… …   Wikipedia

  • Agrarkolonisation — ist die Inkulturnahme landwirtschaftlich bislang noch nicht genutzter Landschaftsräume. Man unterscheidet eine staatlich geplante, private oder auch ungeplante Agrarkolonisation. Von Agrarkolonisation spricht man heute meist bei Erschließungen in …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Indonesian occupation of East Timor — East Timor is located at the end of the Indonesian archipelago, 400 miles (640km) northwest of Darwin, Australia. History of East Timor …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.