The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched a project Tuesday to support 30,000 Indonesian school-age children in Bogor, West Java, and Madura Island, East Java.
Anthony N. Banbury, WFP regional director for Asia, said Bogor and Madura were selected for the program because both had high malnutrition rates and the WFP already had offices there.
Banbury said the program would work toward alleviating child hunger in several ways. First, by ensuring that children receive fortified snacks every school day through the WFP school feeding program; second, by providing clean water through the construction of over 125 wells and de-worming tablets to ensure that the children absorb all the nutrients from the fortified snacks; and third, by supporting training that promotes hygienic and healthy habits among children.
"We're trying to provide life-changing assistance, life-changing opportunities. That's what the WFP is working on here with the government," he added.
The program will cover 140 schools in Madura and Bogor. The WFP selected the schools according to criteria such as their location in the malnourished areas and willingness to commit to supporting the program.
Dipayan Bhattacharyya from the WFP told The Jakarta Post that one out of three children in Madura and one out of four in Bogor suffer malnutrition.
Dipayan said there are 350 malnourished areas scattered throughout the country.
"This includes East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, some parts of Kalimantan, South Sumatra, parts of North Sumatra, Papua, Riau and South Nias," he said.
Dipayan added that the situation in Bogor is unique because the high rate of malnutrition there persists despite being located near the capital Jakarta.
"In the city of Bogor, the malnutrition rate is nine percent, but in Bogor regency it is 25 percent," he said.
The program is a collaborative effort between the WFP and the U.S. food company Cargill, which will provide US$3 million to fund the program.
Deputy Minister for the People's Welfare Adang Setiana said the Office of the Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare would act as a supporting unit in the program.
Data gathered by the WFP in 2006 show that about 13 million children in the country suffer from hunger, and 30.2 percent of children under the age of five living in rural areas are underweight.
Banbury said the WFP currently runs two main activities: the school feeding program, which supports school-age children through the provision of fortified biscuits at school, and the health posts (Posyandu) program, which assists mothers and children under the age of five.