05 April 2007

Models of ending hunger in Indonesia

HERE are approaches to end hunger in Indonesia but all of them are separated one from the other with strong short-term projects as a dominant paradigm. Which one is the best? Looking into the nature of each and the possible supporting and team working relation among them may help us to figure out what kind of approach is suitable, effective and efficient in tackling hunger in Indonesia.

What likely needed at last is appropriated implementing media programs that bridge and unite all of those diverse existing hunger-fights efforts to be transformed into common lessons learned ..

First model is complementary food program, locally called Paket PMT. This program model identifies malnutrition and hunger as problem specifically struck each individual family and that the problem is strongly associated to “disaster” almost God made. None could be taken responsible for such widespread phenomenon of ‘malnutrition’ affecting infants. Hunger in East Nusa Tenggara, for instance, has been declared as “extra-ordinary happenings” (kejadian luar biasa) that the central government needs to address with parachuting helps and aids, particularly in the form of additional foods.

Families with malnourished infants are given foodstuffs or instant foods. Monitoring activities are conducted by health cadres from among the community members in cooperation with the sub-district health centre (puskesmas). Apart from the government, international bodies and international NGOs also actively conduct such model of ending hunger in East Nusa Tenggara with distributing biscuits, instant noodles, and instant porridges. This approach is rapid and short-term because if not promptly helped those malnourished infants may die tomorrow. However, since this model is mostly not followed by long-term activities, very few sustainable impacts could be expected from the hunger-stricken communities. Though very useful on the spot rescuing the hungry, this model tends to target poor people as merely aid objects, financially high cost, fails to develop the existing potential of the poor families and communities to resolve hunger and other related problems.

Second model is feeding center yet does not involve the families with malnourished infants to take part in it. Case study of this model found in Southern Timor Tengah (TTS) in NTT is not very different from the first one but the malnourished, sick infants were put in noutrient center and directly taken care by social health workers. This model has an effective impact as well, however high cost is unavoidable and also fails to empower poor families and communities. Women or mothers are not involved since this model opts for curative approach and that malnourished infants are specifically perceived as the problem of the concerned families only. In tackling hunger therefore it fails to involve other families in the community in which the distressed family lives. The positive impacts could only be seen among few families, yet paradoxically they realized that the hunger threats are lurking soon ahead.

Third model involves women or mothers’ role in the feeding center. Women are considerred as actors as you may see in a case conducted by a Belgian nurse in Sikka district. Social workers are not needed here as compared to the second model and local foodstuffs are strongly encouraged. Malnourised children are put in the center along with the families and other relatives responsible. In the center, mothers are briefed with diverse useful knowledge and relevant skills while asked to take care of their malnourished infants. Women and the families are expected to continue taking care in the same way after the sick infants recover. However, this program model takes the same high cost and larger communities have not been actively involved with. And it fails to develop the community’s capacity to improve itself. In the long run it is hard for local people to emulate such strong organization or institution to carry out a nutrient-focused center that needs large sums of financial resources.

Fourth model sets up community-based education groups. This kind of approach is tried out in West Sumba by Seraphine Foundation. Women groups are educated while conditioning the community’s initiatives. Nutrient and health education programs are held for women groups while developing local food cooking skills, small economic activities to improve their livelihood, and community organizing. Women group education is also made possible by demanding men or their husbands and other larger families to involve. Members of the communities are encourarged and conditioned to work together in building for instance the education center makeshifts. Men take care of infants while their wives join the education activities. Malnourished infants are tackled together along with the communities. This approach takes much less financial resources since it requires the community’s initiatives to contribute, while addressing other related dimensions needed for tackling hunger. For short-term, immediate activities, this model keenly relies on the role of the existing institutions such as the hospitals in the neighboring localities. It promises however sustainabilty in the future. However, this approach requires strong, highly committed local community organizers that may mobilize people’s initiatives and supports.

What likely needed at last is an appropriated implementing media programs that bridge and unite all of those diverse existing hunger-fights efforts to be transformed into common lessons learned that may be acknowledged and supported by all related stakeholders in the province, i.e. the government, religious groups, academicians, NGO activists, international NGOs, and international bodies that work in the province.

May be you may help them.***

UNICEF's 2002 IDS: Evaluation of Posyandu Revitalization


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should use the word "malnutrition" instead of "hunger". They certainly have different meaning though some of the contributing factors might be the same.

The Institute for Ecosoc Rights said...

Dear anonymous, thanks for the comments. It is commonly known the debatable use of the word ‘hunger’. However, it deems to be practically more helpful for the people and the public, particularly yet the communities, very often in quite large geographical scope, who suffer food insecurity, that they better reclaim the encompassing perspective for the less previledged to be rescued and liberated from acute scarcity of food and very low level of education. We deem here to use ‘hunger’ for the sake of public campaign that hopefully would propel more people with willingness and emphaty to take actions. Again, the objective is the realization and implementation of two actions undeniably most important: emergency actions and long-term education activities for them, two kinds of responses insufficiently delivered to the poor, either in war-torn countries or remote, isolated locations such as East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia.

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