Monday, 27 June 2011

MALNUTRITION: Indonesia: Major firms launch initiative to fight malnutrition in kids

Rangga D. Fadillah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta 06/14/2011
The Indonesian government welcomed on Monday a public private partnership (PPP) initiative to fight malnutrition in Indonesian children called Project Laser Beam (PLB), which is supported by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and several globally renowned enterprises.
The secretary of the Office of the Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister, Indroyono Soesilo, said the initiative was critical to help the country end child hunger and poverty, particularly in East Nusa Tenggara and Papua, two of the poorest provinces.
“The government of Indonesia is committed to lifting people out of poverty and giving every Indonesian child a healthy start in life. PLB will kick off very soon under the coordination of my office,” he said at a press conference on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Jakarta.
He expressed his gratitude to Unilever, Kraft Foods, DSM and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) as well as to three local companies — PT Tiga Pilar Sejahtera, GarudaFood and Indofood – for their participation in PLB.
“PLB is a creative new pillar in the fight to end child malnutrition, which we believe will be a major contributor to attain the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” said Indroyono who is also a candidate for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s director general for the 2012-2015 period.
PLB is a five-year, US$50 million project that aims to eradicate child malnutrition. The initial focuses of the initiative will be Indonesia and Bangladesh where child malnutrition rates are unacceptably high.
In Indonesia, more than 37 percent of under fives go to bed hungry, while in Bangladesh, the rate reaches 48 percent.
Pradeep Pant, Asia Pacific president director of Kraft Foods, said his company contributed around $10 million to the initiative. He elaborated that PLB would cover programs, such as teaching locals about sustainable farming, assisting them to create micro enterprises and providing nutrition education to mothers and children.
“In my opinion, this initiative is likely to succeed because it has three required pillars, which are sustainability, big scale and conducted repeatedly,” he said.
Unilever chief executive officer Paul Polman argued that participating in the initiative was very important for his company’s business. Ending child malnutrition and preparing children to be healthier and more prosperous in the future would be a way for the company to expand its market.
“Our business won’t work if the market doesn’t work,” he said.
The continued commitment of Unilever, Kraft Foods and several new local and international partners demonstrated confidence that the world was on the right track in fighting hunger in a new and innovative way, said the director for public policy, communications and private partnerships of WFP, Nancy Roman.
“When the government and businesses work together, we can do more than what we can do individually,” she said.

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