ACEH, 15 April 2005 - A survey of more than 3700 households in the aftermath of the tsunami in Aceh confirms the immediate nutritional needs of high-risk groups in tsunami-affected areas have been met.
The results of the rapid nutrition assessment, organized by the Indonesian Ministry of Health, its Nutrition Research Development Center in Bogor and in partnership with UNICEF, WFP, NGOs and, show little difference in nutrition status between people displaced by the tsunami and those households not directly affected by the tsunami – an indication of the success of the efforts by the Government and relief agencies. The survey showed that wasting or acute malnutrition was 11.6% among displaced children and 11.4% for children not displaced by the tsunami.
However the survey cautions that continued attention is necessary, particularly in the provision of clean water and attention to hygiene. The survey showed a high rate of diarrhoea, fever and respiratory cough among under five children and again this was for both tsunami affected and non-affected populations. Cough ranged from 29-65 % of under fives, fever ranged 26-74% and diarrhoea from 7 to 52 % in the two weeks preceding the survey.
The survey was conducted during February and March to determine the extent of malnutrition among the general population. It was carried out in 13 tsunami-affected districts on the north, east and west coast of Aceh province. The survey included 3,735 households, 4,024 women aged 18 – 45 years and 4,030 children aged 6 – 59 months. Of the households, 10 percent were IDPs living in camps, 9 percent were households hosting IDPs and 80 percent were resident in households without displaced people. As well as measuring nutritional status, the assessment teams administered a series of questions to assess related issues, including food security, livelihood, access to safe water and sanitation and prevalence of disease.
UNICEF Representative in Indonesia, Gianfranco Rotigliano, said the results from this survey provide a vital benchmark for the Indonesian Government and its partners in future monitoring of the nutritional status of the population in affected areas and for long term planning. The findings will be incorporated into the blue print of the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Aceh.
“The survey was the first major nutritional assessment done in Aceh for five years and provides a baseline for determining on going intervention, status in the affected areas, and to help not only people directly affected by the tsunami but across the entire province.”
Rotigliano said the survey revealed longer term nutritional issues which needed to be addressed including stunting and underweight. The high prevalence of stunting - 37.9 percent of children less than five years - shows that poor nutrition is a long term chronic problem related to poverty, poor nutrition, knowledge and practices, inadequate sanitation and security.
“We need to focus on these issues. Malnutrition is generally high throughout Indonesia with between a quarter and a third of all children less than five suffering stunting or malnourishment. It indicates the failure of a wide range of necessary services and helps us identify vulnerable women and children. Therefore, improvement of nutritional status must be an integral part of all community development programs in Indonesia,” Rotigliano said.
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