by Colin Barlow (Department of Political and Social Change, RSPAS, Australian National University, Canberra) and Ria Gondowarsito (Nusatenggara Association, Canberra and Kupang)
Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) (Map 1) is the poorest province in Indonesia, far from main centres of national activity and with an economy based on subsistence agriculture. NTT in 2004 was divided into 15 kabupaten and 194 kecamatan (Biro Pusat Statistik 2005). It had a total of 2,599 villages, each comprising 4-5 dusun. The province encapsulates major variations in culture between its different regions. Since poverty is concentrated in rural areas where most people live, poverty relief efforts must focus there.
This paper first reviews the economic, social, political, geographical and agricultural circumstances of NTT, concentrating on rural areas. It highlights key features in each sphere, and their implications for further development. It finally turns to poverty alleviation, discussing approaches to socio-economic improvement and how the latter might best be achieved.