Accepted Paper:

Beyond subsistence affluence: the challenge for food security among the Asmats of West Papua  
Agus Sumule

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses causes of the situation portrayed by the Indonesian leading weekly TEMPO magazine as "apocalypse in Asmat." It will also provide suggestions and recommendations to prevent similar future calamities in the area.

Paper long abstract:

The term 'subsistence affluence' was widely used by the development specialists in the Pacific after an Australian labor economist, E.K. Fisk, introduced the concept in 1960s. As a matter of fact the term he used was `primitive affluence', based on his studies in PNG. He concluded that unless in the natural disaster situation, the people of New Guinea had enough food as they needed, were living in huts and environments which supporting their livelihood, and had plenty of time to fulfill their cultural rituals.

More than fifty years after the subsistence affluence concept was introduced, the people of Asmat in the Southern part of West Papua found themselves in the difficult situation. They have to rely more on the provision of food and other good and services from outside. From the last part of December 2017 to February 2018, the media in Indonesia flooded its subscribers with news about deaths in Asmat due to famine, malnutrition and measles.

This paper discusses causes of the situation portrayed by the Indonesian leading weekly TEMPO magazine as "apocalypse in Asmat." It will also provide suggestions and recommendations to prevent similar future calamities in the area.

Panel P27
Surviving entanglements in West Papua [Combined format]