Friday, 14 July 2017

Fighting Malnutrition with Community-Based Treatment

By Blandina Bait, Nutrition Officer

UNICEF is supporting the Government of Indonesia to implement the CMAM nutrition programme © UNICEF / 2017

Two-year-old Alfredo had been suffering from persistent diarrhoea for two days when his worried mother, Yosina, took him to the village health center, known as a puskesmas, near their rural farming community in East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia.

The boy was very weak and looked pale; the health worker on duty confirmed that Alfredo had severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

“I was torn and shocked to learn that Alfredo was suffering from severe acute malnutrition,” said Yosina. She was even more alarmed to learn that SAM made Alfredo more vulnerable to diseases which could lead to death.

Yosina did not hesitate when the health worker advised her to enrol him in the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme for children aged 6-59 months. Though the cost of the one-hour round trip ($4) to the puskesmas for Alfredo’s weekly treatment would be a significant expenditure for the family of subsistence rice farmers, she and her husband agreed it was important for the sake of Alfredo’s future.

Roots Day Takes Aim at Bullying in Makassar

By Derry Fahrizal Ulum, Child Protection Officer

Students and I during Roots Day activities at one of the photo booths © Derry Ulum / 2017 

Makassar:“I believe that making friends with everybody is a good way to overcome [the problem of] bullying. When we show our closest friends how to behave positively, it influences all students to want to change just like us”.

The above statement was made by one of 30 student ‘change-makers’ during ‘Roots Day’ at SMPN 37 Middle School in Makassar, a regional port town in the southwest of Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island. Roots Day is the culmination of a student-to-student school anti-violence initiative piloted by UNICEF that seeks to eliminate bullying to optimize learning and enhance student safety.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Adolescents take action; adults listen

By Liz Pick, Communications Specialist

The adolescents of Oeletsala village, Kupang, gained new confidence to speak up and voice their ideas through the 'adolescent circle'' © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Liz Pick

“It’s definitely never happened before. I never thought adults would ever listen to children’s ideas. But the head of the village did listen to us and now we have an easier life.”

So says 17-year-old Ina who lives in Oeletsala village near Kupang, a city in the western end of Timor Island in Eastern Indonesia. She and about 40 others from three nearby villages are part of a pilot programme to help adolescents learn to recognise risks in their environment and identify potential solutions using UNICEF’s Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Monitoring Air Quality: Zeroing in on the Haze Problem

By Vania Santoso – Innovations Adolescent and Youth Engagement Officer 

The LaserEgg gives users real-time air quality readings so they can protect themselves from haze and other air pollution © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Vania Santoso

If someone you trusted told not to go outside because the air was dangerous to breathe, what would you do?

Last March, I went on a four-day mission to Palangka Raya, Kalimantan, ground zero for Indonesia’s haze-blasting agricultural fires, to determine whether real-time air quality monitoring systems might be of use.

In particular, I wanted to gauge interest in small, easy-to-carry air quality monitoring devices, such as the LaserEgg, with potential to provide information about air pollution levels to protect users’ health. What I found is that locals were interested in this type of technology due to its portability and easy readability. But real-world experience had taught them technology was only useful when used properly.

First, I talked to Sadrah and Vivia, two airport workers at Tjilik Riwut Airport. They shrugged off the LaserEgg’s PSI 115 “Unhealthy”’ reading not far from the tarmac. “It’s okay, we’ve seen worse,” Sadrah said. “Back in 2015, when much of Kalimantan was enveloped in a toxic yellow haze, visibility was only some 10 meters,” Vivia recalled.

Lody (left) introduced Laser Egg Air Quality Monitor to Arief, Sadrah, and Bayu © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Vania Santoso
The next day I met Pak John Pieter from the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics Agency. He’s been working on forest fire prevention since 2006. When Lody, a colleague from PulseLab Jakarta, asked him whether an air quality monitor might be useful, Pak John replied, “Well, it tells us information that is good to know. But just knowing something doesn’t change behaviour.”

He compared haze to smoking cigarettes: “People know that it is dangerous, but still do it anyway…they don’t think about the long-term effects.”

Members of Relindo, a volunteer group, made similar points. Local coordinator Pak Joko said the city was already equipped with a downtown air quality reader. “In the past, even when the ISPU showed that levels were ‘dangerous’…people still went about their lives without a mask.” He argued that what was needed was increased government efforts to change behaviours during haze.

Hindris, another Relindo member, said such awareness-raising was crucial. “During the haze, we distributed N95 Masks to people living in affected areas, but they didn’t know how to use them, or what to use them for. Some even complained they were unable to breathe, preferring to cover their mouths with cloth…it was our job to educate them and make them aware of the dangers of not using the masks,” he said.

Pak Joko, Himmam, and Hindris from Relindo © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Vania Santoso

Our interviewees all seemed to agree that a portable air quality monitor was just a tool. It is equally important to make sure the public knows how to put that knowledge into practice.

“Monitors like the LaserEgg give the public the data to make an informed decision about when to protect themselves. But it doesn’t tell them how and it doesn’t tell them why,” said UNICEF Indonesia Innovations Specialist Valerie Crab.

“Finding ways to trigger behaviour change with answers to those questions will be another innovations challenge,” she added.

Disclosure: The LaserEgg was given as a sample to UNICEF Indonesia by Origins, its distributor in Indonesia. Devices like this tell the user whether the particulate matter in a given location is Good (PSI 0-50), Moderate (PSI 51-100), Unhealthy (PSI 101-200), Very Unhealthy (PSI 201-300), or Hazardous (PSI 301 +). It color-codes these readings for easy comprehension.

Friday, 16 June 2017

BCA and UNICEF continue to partner for children

UNICEF Indonesia’s longest-standing corporate partner of 17 years, Bank BCA, travelled with UNICEF late last April to conduct financial literacy and personal hygiene workshops with students at two elementary schools in Sorong, West Papua, where they engaged with the students and teachers who benefit from the child-friendly school programme. The team also visited community-based early childhood development centres in Raja Ampat, West Papua. Coverage in local media was strong, follow the links below for more details on this successful trip.