Nutrition Improved in Indonesia Despite Worsening Trend in Asia

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  • Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources of National Planning Agency/ National Coordinator of SDG implementation, Arifin Rudiyanto (center) together with UN Representative Coordinator in Indonesia Anita Nirody gather for group photo with UN Head Agencies in Indonesia (FAO, UNICEF,  WHO, WFP and IFAD) at the

    Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources of National Planning Agency/ National Coordinator of SDG implementation, Arifin Rudiyanto (center) together with UN Representative Coordinator in Indonesia Anita Nirody gather for group photo with UN Head Agencies in Indonesia (FAO, UNICEF, WHO, WFP and IFAD) at the "Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Indonesia" Forum that was held in Jakarta today, April 2, 2019. FAO

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Number of children in Indonesia suffering from malnutrition has been reduced, while many countries in the region risk missing the SDG2 Zero Hunger target.

    In the fourth year of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Indonesia has made tremendous progress in the fight against hunger, with recent statistics showing positive trends in food security and malnutrition. 

    However, the positive trends are not changing the fact that stunting resulting from severe malnutrition, remains high in Indonesia, with almost one in three children in Indonesia still being stunted.

    “I would like to emphasize the importance of sustainable food systems. Sustainable and productive agriculture will be our real challenges in the near future. In Indonesia, the food production system mostly relies on smallholders, increasing the productivity of farmers is one of our critical policies,” said the Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources of National Planning Agency/ National Coordinator of SDG implementation, Arifin Rudiyanto in his remarks at the “Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Indonesia” Forum held in Jakarta April 2.

    Last year, food consumption per capita in Indonesia increased by around 5 percent, and among people living in poverty, calorie consumption increased around 8 percent. In this setting, the stunting rate for children under five years’ old in Indonesia fell by 7 percent to 30.8 percent between 2013 and 2018. The rate of wasting in children under five-years-old also fell 2 percent to 10 percent during the same period. 

    Indonesia is in a state of economic transition, with income growth of over 5 percent per year, and demand for food is growing at over 4 percent. Changes are inevitable due to fast economic growth, urbanization, and changes in lifestyles.

    These factors have impacted food security, nutrition and the availability of healthy diets. As in many other countries in the region, Indonesia also struggles to establish sustainable and productive nutrition and food system.

    Meanwhile, according to the “Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition”—published in October 2018 by FAO, UNICEF, WFP and WHO—the reduction in the number of hungry and malnourished people, including children, has come to a virtual standstill in many parts of the region.  

    The Asia and Pacific region accounted for well over half of the world’s undernourished in 2017, at nearly half a billion people (486 million), while the number of hungry people in the world had reached 821 million, or one in every nine people.  Consequently, the prevalence of hunger worldwide has returned to the same levels of a decade ago.

    Around 79 million children below the age of five in Asia and the Pacific suffers from stunting, or every fourth child, and 34 million children are wasted, 12 million of whom suffer from severe acute malnutrition with a drastically increased risk of death.

    The report also highlights the almost paradoxical reality of an increase in obesity of both children and adults in the region, which now has the fastest growing prevalence of childhood obesity in the world.

    An estimated 14.5 million children under five are overweight and virtually all children in the region are increasingly exposed to cheap, unhealthy processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat but poor in essential nutrients.

    “We have an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically change the current stagnation in the reduction of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition in the Asia Pacific Region by building on current achievements and addressing multiple SDGs,” said UN Resident Coordinator Anita Nirody in opening remarks at the forum. 

    While acknowledging the significant achievements made between 2000 and 2015, with 181 million people lifted out of hunger and the total number of stunted children reduced by 45 million, Nirody also underscored the sense of urgency.

    “Our future prosperity will depend on the course of actions that we take now," she said, adding that the world cannot meet the 2030 target of zero hunger if Asia and the Pacific are not leading the way.

    Therefore, the forum saw that the Government of Indonesia and the UN in Indonesia reiterated their commitment to achieving SDG2 to end all forms of malnutrition and achieve zero hunger by 2030. 

    This includes the scaling up the Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition, a proven life-saving intervention, to a national coverage (UNICEF), the implementation of behaviour change communication strategies to address the double burden of malnutrition among school-age children (WFP), the strengthening of national capacities in aspects of food safety, and the development of a cross-sectoral approach to food systems policy and governance (FAO), as well as the continuous improvement of nutrition labelling (WHO), among other examples of concrete support.

    FAO | TEMPO.CO