Many Indonesians not eating enough, children underweight – UN report

6 July 2006

Many people in Indonesia do not get enough to eat, significant numbers of the country’s children are underweight and infant mortality continues to be a problem right across the island nation’s archipelago, according to a new United Nations-backed study released today.

“There is an urgent need for agencies supporting nutrition programmes to join hands and provide packaged assistance for maximum impact, especially to improve the health of women and children,” UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Mohamed Saleheen said of the study conducted jointly by his agency and Badan Pusat Statistik-Statistics Indonesia.

The study – Nutrition Map of Indonesia – breaks new ground by employing recently developed analytical techniques to measure for the first time Indonesia’s nutritional status all the way down to the sub-district level. It surveyed conditions in 3,688 sub-districts, covering 30 provinces and 341 districts and cities.

Its findings include:

  • People in roughly half the sub-districts consume less than 1,700 kilocalories a day, well below the 2,100 considered necessary to provide the minimum energy required to adequately sustain an average adult.
  • More than 30 per cent of pre-school children are underweight in 772 sub-districts particularly in North, West and South Sumatra, Jambi, East Java, Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB), Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and West Kalimantan.
  • Infant mortality rates of 55 per 1,000 live births, significantly above the national average of 43 per 1,000, are prevalent in 1,079 sub-districts stretching across the country, including Jambi, Bengkulu, West Sumatra, Banten, West and Central Java, West and South Kalimantan and Central, South and Southeast Sulawesi.

Mr. Saleheen described the Nutrition Map as a valuable tool in highlighting those areas “that should be prioritized in any nutritional interventions.”

It is the first application in Indonesia of the Small Area Estimation technique to measure nutritional parameters, a recently developed methodology that attempts to combine the advantages of detailed information on household characteristics obtained from household surveys with the complete coverage of a population census.

It is particularly valuable in Indonesia, where assembling a representative sample would be prohibitively expensive in a country of nearly 250 million people with 33 provinces, 349 districts, 91 municipalities, 5,570 sub-districts and 71,634 villages.


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