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Grassroots programme targets stunting in rural Indonesia

© © UNICEF Indonesia/2013
Community health worker Yeti Rosmiati advises a young mother on the best way to ensure her child grow up strong and healthy. She was trained under the PNPM Generasi programme, which is supported by UNICEF and aims to bring down the high rates of stunting

By Chris Niles

A programme in Indonesia empowers communities to tackle stunting by improving health, sanitation and education.

NUSA TENGGARA BARAT PROVINCE, Indonesia, 20 March 2013 – A grassroots programme in Indonesia is making inroads into one of the world's silent crises – stunting.

One third of Indonesian children are stunted, a condition that can permanently impede mental and physical development.

Reducing stunting

In Nusa Tenggara Barat province, on Lombok Island, the rates are rising.

"We are most concerned about stunting, says Head of the Provincial District Health Office Khairul Anwar. "There was an increase from 43 per cent in 2007 to 48 per cent in 2010. So this is our priority."

UNICEF has teamed up with the World Bank in support of the Indonesian Government as it tries to reduce stunting.

They support an existing community development programme, PNPM Generasi, which aims to tackle stunting using a broad-based approach – improving health, sanitation and education.

"In Nusa Tenggara Barat province, this partnership has supported the training of 1,200 community health workers and nearly 500 health workers at the provincial, district and village level," says UNICEF Nutrition Specialist Sri Sukotjo.

One of the health workers is Yeti Rosmiati, who regularly visits young mothers to advise them on how to ensure that their babies grow up healthy and strong.

"Through the training, I found out that an infant up to the age of 6 months should only have breast milk. Complementary foods are only added after 6 months," she explains.

Empowering communities

The programme gives communities cash grants and the power to make joint decisions about health, sanitation and education.

"The PNPM Generasi programme is designed around the idea that communities, when they have information, can act collectively to basically improve their lives," says World Bank Task Team Leader Rob Wrobel.

The programme has built-in incentives: The more successful communities are, the more money they get to make further positive changes. These changes can be anything from building better infrastructure to hiring more teachers. The important thing is that communities get to choose.

"This partnership between UNICEF and the World Bank in Indonesia aims to enhance the capacity of an existing community development programme to contribute to gains in the health and nutrition status of Indonesians," says UNICEF Representative in Indonesia Angela Kearney.

Teaching mothers small things, such as the importance of washing with soap and feeding children a balanced, protein-rich diet, can lead to big changes in the lives of communities and the children who will be the parents of the future.

"I have two children, and I am very short. I want the next generation to be tall and healthy," says one community health worker.





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