It is necessary for the developing countries to concern themselves with population control, to enhance opportunities for universal education, especially for women, and to focus on environmental conservation for ecological sustainability.
Two villages in West Java and one in Central Java were studied intensively in the first half of the 1980s and were followed up until 1995. The villagers cultivate rice twice a year with little fertiliser or pesticide application. They make use of home gardens to cultivate fresh vegetables and fruit. They keep chickens, ducks and fish in ponds and rice fields in order to get animal protein.
Domestic waste including human excreta is consumed in the ponds by fish and used as manure for rice cultivation. Such organic recycling and mixed cultivation has made the life of these villagers a sustainable one for more than 2,000 years. They use well or spring water for drinking and cooking, and stream water for irrigation and washing. More than half of the villagers are infested with parasites, particularly ascaris and hookworm. This indicates incomplete digestion of human excreta in the pond.
The potential to increase productivity in the agricultural sector is very limited since no more arable land is available and hence there is no further opportunity for an increase in rice productivity. Thus the younger generation from such rural areas has been displaced to large cities, to outer islands other than Java, or to Saudi Arabia. More than 95 per cent of the villagers are Moslem.
The increasing population of the capital city, Jakarta, has made the urban environment worse. Water pollution, and air pollution from high traffic density, are major problems. The health impact of atmospheric lead has been measured. Drivers of small buses had twice the level of atmospheric lead in their blood and urine. Their blood enzyme levels of delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydrise were depressed. Roadside lead exposure for eight hours a day affected such exposed people at the cellular biochemical level.
A clean water campaign in Jakarta between 1992 and 1994 had limited success. Air pollution is capable of improvement by the application of technology and the use of legal restrictions on emission. Such actions are essential because Indonesia is developing at the rate of 6-9 per cent annually.