Low-income family menus
help fight malnutrition

It all started in 2003 when Mercy Corps collaborated with the University of Indonesia to introduce a "positive deviance" concept to communities through workshops. They did it by showing real cases of lowincome families who managed to nourish their children well.

The US NGO, based in Portland, Oregon, and the academics showed the communities that more nutritious food could be served at the same cost to their food budget.

City health agency nutrition division head Dr. Ellis Batti said that knowledge was then developed into a program called Pos Gizi (nutrition post). "This program is the concrete application of what we learned in the positive deviance workshops," she said.

Groups of 10 to 12 participating toddlers with their mothers meet every day for 10 days to have a meal together while playing and singing.

The menus consisted of real meals low-income families in the area were already offering their own children. Subdistrict health centers (Posyandu) had identifi ed mothers successfully feeding their children economically to lead the program.

Mohamad Thamrin, a program supervisors in West Jakarta, said they expected toddlers to have gained some weight after the 10-day session and to enjoy their meals more.

Head of the West Jakarta Health Agency's nutrition unit, Parwathi Mayun said malnutrition was a longer-term process.

"After three months of chronic malnutrition, an underweight child could worsen into an undernourished child. Pos Gizi [can] help the child regain fi tness," Parwathi said.

"We have routine programs that provide extra food at the Posyandu. One specifi c project is extra food provided for recuperation, and this program is one way to deliver that additional food," Parwathi added.

Data from the city health agency's nutrition unit showed 187 children were hospitalized with malnutrition in 2008.

Agency head Dien Emawati said most cases of undernourished toddlers in Jakarta were usually accompanied by other illnesses, such as gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, diarrhea and sometimes HIV infection.

The program was implemented not only in DKI Jakarta but in other regions, including West Java, Aceh and Kupang.

After initial successes, the Pos Gizi program has expanded with the help of many NGOs.

Nurul Narulitasari, a program assistant at University of Indonesia's Positive Deviance Resource Center, said the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had granted funds to several NGOs to set up more Pos Gizi.

In 2007 CARE set up 188 in Tangerang, Banten; Wahana Visi Indonesia, 22 in Surabaya, 25 in Jakarta; Save the Children, 52 in West Java, 35 in Medan; and Catholic Relief Services delivered 32 in Kupang.

Other NGOs also implemented this program: Islamic Relief set up 26 Pos Gizi in Serang and Lebak. Plan International had seven in Sika and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam provinces.

The program has been picked up by the health division of related provincial administrations.

Some Pos Gizi were developed directly by community members, which was the aim of the program at the outset: to trigger initiatives from the communities themselves. (iwp)

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