As one of the 61 countries represented in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, Indonesia is striving to end hunger and malnutrition in all of its forms by 2030. Since joining the SUN Business Network (SBN) in 2015, SBN Indonesia has grown to include 36 enterprises and 5 organisations as members, spread across the food, pharmacy, consumer goods, banking, retail, electronics, automotive, and health service industries.
SBN Indonesia is committed to addressing three priorities; nutrition for the first 1,000 days and adolescence; providing education about, and access to, balanced nutrition; and sanitation, health and hygiene. These issues have been identified as governmental priorities so members aim to mobilize the private sector and provide multi-sectoral support to attain these goals through education and fortified food products.
Nutrition for the first 1,000 days and adolescence
In Indonesia, “in terms of nutritional status, 27.7% of under-ﬁve children were reported to suﬀer from stunted growth in 2019. With 5 million kids being born annually, we are at risk of 1.5 million kids being stunted,” explains Axton Salim, SBN Indonesia’s coordinator and co-chair of the Global Advisory Group. The Government of Indonesia has resolved to reduce this figure to 19% by 2024, and SBN Indonesia is supporting this ambitious goal by working to improve nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and through to adolescence.
The first 1,000 days of life is regarded as the ‘golden period’ of human development with regard to nutrition, beginning with the 270 days of pregnancy, followed by exclusive breast feeding for 180 days and the addition of complementary foods from 6 to 24 months. Throughout this period, it is also critical to ensure adequate nutrition for the mother.
The SBN Indonesia network is using staple food fortifications, such as wheat flour with iron and folic acid, to prevent anaemia for pregnant mothers. In addition, the network’s members are producing cereal, biscuits and other snacks targeted at children and young people fortified with vitamins B-complex and D, and calcium, costing as little as US$0.04 per snack.
Overcoming COVID challenges
The impact of COVID-19 on Indonesia has been significant in many ways. Axton Salim highlights that, “prior to the COVID pandemic, Indonesia was already plagued with malnutrition problems… [But] never in our lifetime have we experienced such a problem.” This worsening of the malnutrition situation in the country since the onset of the pandemic is exacerbated by the challenges posed to the network’s activities by movement and social restrictions. For example, Indonesia uses integrated health posts known as posyandu to perform health checks on children, provide nutrition education and provide training to volunteers, with several hundred run by SBN Indonesia. However, since the onset of the pandemic, the network has had to adapt its operations to comply with pandemic-related restrictions, and many of these health posts have had to stop functioning.
However, SBN Indonesia has also seen a positive example of COVID-19’s impact on their programmes. In collaboration with the University of Indonesia and Ruangguru, Indofood, one of the network’s leading members, runs an educational digital learning
platform ‘Hidup Sehat Yuk!’, which has picked up significant momentum during the pandemic. This online initiative focuses on nutrition and wellness for adolescents through the use of short, vibrant videos communicating critical messages in an easy-to-understand and enjoyable format. As schools have largely moved online in response to rising COVID cases, the number of monthly platform users more than tripled from December 2019 – December 2020, to reach 944,321 individuals.
To ensure the availability and affordability of nutritious food, SBN Indonesia is using private sector expertise in food fortification. For example, some members are using cooking oil and wheat flour fortified with iron, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins A, B1 and B2 to tackle the most prevalent micronutrient deficiencies present in Indonesia. Gardening is also being used to introduce nutrition into communities, with network members hosting urban farming demonstrations and providing nutritious vegetable seeds to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workforce nutrition is another significant intervention in SBN Indonesia’s work to ensure wellness among the population. Employee fitness programmes, medical check-ups, canteen improvements, and education on healthy living, the availability of fortified products, and the special nutritional needs of vulnerable groups, are just a few of the schemes the network’s members have in place. Over 25,000 employees have already benefited from the workforce nutrition programme, and SBN Indonesia aims to quadruple that number by 2025.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hygiene and sanitation have become critical in procedures, policies and operations globally in attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, good hygiene has always been a vital focus, with SBN Indonesia supporting the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) programme, which works in line with the Indonesian Government’s national strategy of community-based sanitation. The programme’s activities, supported by several SBN members, include infrastructure development, the promotion of clean and hygienic lifestyles in schools, and sanitation programmes at work. So far, the programme has successfully reached up to 500,000 beneficiaries in just one year.
Leaving no one behind
Guided by the second of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030), SBN Indonesia is determined to engage the wealth of expertise and resources within the country’s food and nutrition private sector to support the government’s objectives. Through food fortification, education initiatives and direct involvement with local communities, SBN Indonesia is making a tangible difference in the nutrition and wellbeing of the population. Targeting as many ages, regions and specific health concerns as possible, SBN Indonesia is striving to leave no one behind in their ambition to achieve zero hunger.