The 1979 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service
CITATION for Raden Wasito
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1979, Manila, Philippines
Population growth and the resulting pressure upon available food, resources and land has become one of the world's primary contemporary concerns. In Asia, which holds over one-half of the human race, the resulting problems are particularly acute. As the death rate, especially among infants, has declined with improved health and medical care, the population promises even more rapid growth. Whether the present world population of roughtly 4.2 billion will double or nearly triple before it levels off will affect the lives of all.
Approximately 1,000 kilometers in length, the island of Java long has held one of the world's densest rural populations. In this verdant, volcanic landscape each of the 8,600,000 hectares of cultivated land must support 10 persons. The pressure of people has produced poverty and social tensions and prompted political upheavals as jobs and food have become scarce. Desperate economic circumstances have eroded the unique Javanese culture. Smaller, yet similarly burdened, Bali is likewise threatened.
Dr. WASITO has a natural affinity for Javanese villagers. Born 70 years ago into the family of a District Officer near Yogyakarta, he grew up in this heartland of Javanese civilization. Leaving to study medicine and serve for 13 years in Centra1 Sumatra, he returned home when the opportunity offered, to work with the late Dr. Kodijat on the massive campaign in the 1950s to eradicate yaws. He learned early to shun people "who are clever without real knowledge." The experience led to work in India and Nepal with the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) to eradicate smallpox and other epidemic diseases.
The dilemma faced by Indonesiathe world's fifth most populous nation with nearly 136 million inhabitantswas whether effective limitation of population must wait upon general economic development or could be accomplished directly. Although birth control had become major government objective, the test would come in the villages.
Dr. WASITO, recalled from retirement to manage family planning in East Java, won acceptance of his thesis that this must be a "people's movement." Initially Dr. WASITO and his associates concentrated upon winning understanding and cooperation from local leaders: and their staffs, military officers and religious elders. Mobilizing villagers through lurahs or headmen, irrigation officers, tricycle drivers and women's clubs, the family planning representative was a local person and usually a woman. The wayang or classical Javanese puppet shadow play was enlisted and female gamelan orchestras were organized as part of what has become a new liberation of women. All was matched with scrupulous record keeping; village clinics display maps which households utilize what contraceptives.
Already the results belie those who said it could not be done in poor, largely illiterate rural societies. In Hindu Bali in just over seven years the birth rate has dropped from 44 per 1,000 persons annually to less than 20 per 1,000. In Muslim East Java the results have been almost as dramatic and the energetic National Family Planning Coordinating Board now is similarly active in Central and West Java. For Indonesia it means the goal of enough food and a decent life for its citizens has moved several generations closer, as the anticipated population by the end of this century has been scaled down from 300 to 190 million. Dr. WASITO's insistence that you must really "love the villagers to win their cooperation," has been proven beyond dispute.
In electing Dr. Raden Wasito to receive the 1979 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his discovering "a path in the Javanese villagers' mind" that led to one of the most dramatic and successful family planning programs in the free world.
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