Expanding Food Alms Amid Increasing Poverty in Bekasi

At the end of 2020, the poverty rate in Bekasi City increased by 37 percent, leading to the difficulty to fulfill the need for food among impoverished communities.

Suparman's house damaged by the flood
The house of Suparman (35) which was partly damaged by the flood in Bekasi in 2020. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, BEKASI – Poverty and hunger are threatening Bekasi, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic. According to data from Bekasi City Government, the poverty rate in the area has increased by 37 percent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

By the end of 2020, as many as 152,002 impoverished families were registered in the Integrated Social Welfare Data. In 2019, there were 106,138 poor households that were registered.

"The data was taken from the beginning of 2019 to July 2020. The residents that we registered were those with a Bekasi City ID card. We see an increase of poverty rate by approximately 37 percent this year compared to last year," said Bekasi City Social Service’ Head of the Management of Poor Communities, Yeni Suharyani.

Yeni said, based on Bekasi Mayor Regulation Number 109 Year 2019 concerning Criteria for Poor People in Bekasi City, there are 10 indicators that a person can be categorized as poor. The indicators include residence, electricity, health, education, food, transportation facilities, clothing, fuel sources, family income, and toilets that meet the standards of healthy toilets.

When carrying out humanitarian programs in Bekasi, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) often finds residents who met the criteria of poverty. One of whom was Suparman (35) who lives in a semi-permanent house on the bank of Bekasi River.

Suparman lives with his 75-year-old father who has been struggling with stroke for seven years.

Last year, his house was damaged by the flood that happened in Bekasi. Parts of the walls were knocked down, and his belongings were washed away. To this day, he has not been able to rebuild the damaged house because he has no permanent job. He works odd-jobs while taking care of his father.

"Every day, I just work odd jobs. Sometimes I scavenge for scraps; sometimes I work as a porter. I earn IDR 35,000 to 50,000 a week. It is enough for our daily needs. What matters most for me is that my father has something to eat. As for me, I still can deal with hunger. If it’s not enough, I buy my supplies on credit and borrow money from my neighbors," said Parman.

Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) Bekasi team talking with Suparman (35), a poor Bekasi resident whose house was damaged by the severe flood in 2020. (ACTNews)

Efforts to solve food problems

As an effort to alleviate poverty in the Bekasi area, ACT Bekasi and Global Wakaf continue to strengthen food-based programs, including the Free Rice Operation, Free Meal Operation, and Waqf Drinking Water.

These programs that focus on food sovereignty also aim to support and strengthen farmers and food producers with waqf funds. The products will be distributed to those in need.

"Insha Allah, based on the data and the high urgency for food among the needy in Bekasi, we see that these programs are very appropriate. We will also amplify the National Food Alms Movement to alleviate food crisis in Bekasi," said ACT Bekasi Branch Manager Rizky Renanda, Sunday (2/21/2021).

Rizky continued, ACT Bekasi invited all Bekasi residents who have a high sense of generosity to act together to support fellow Indonesians with the best food alms. "We invite generous friends in Bekasi and its surroundings to give the best food alms through the Indonesia Dermawan website," he said. []