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Nias island is situated off the western coast of North Sumatra. Nias is a beautiful holiday destination popular amongst international surfers. However, despite this visiting wealth, Nias ranks amongst the poorest areas in Indonesia. Seventeen percent of people (22,720) live below the poverty line, which is set of $21.44. Average family size is 7 people and incomes are inadequate to cover basic needs. Poverty is a significant contributor to food insecurity and malnutrition. Most people are farmers who have traditionally grown commercial rubber. Unfortunately, the prices for rubber have collapsed, leaving the people destitute and desperate for alternative livelihoods.
Building resilience and improving food security is a national priority, however, in the remote communities where SurfAid works, national policies and interventions are often ineffective.
Food security is a multi-dimensional concept. Agricultural production, trade, income, food quality, clean water, sanitation, governance and political stability are all influence food security.
This project increased food security by diversifying food sources, increasing household income and supporting nutrition sensitive health and sanitation activities.
13 community health/farmer groups have been supported to develop catfish, chicken and corn farms after assessment of their leadership capacity in previous activities. The groups are mostly women whose influence in contributing to improved food security is significant given their primary responsibilities for food production, purchasing, preparation and in feeding and care practices. Assistance was provided in the form of continuous coaching, technical support, business training and marketing guidance.
Training and coaching was based on the farmer field school approach, a group-based learning process where farmers share their observations and analyse, together with a SurfAid facilitator/agricultural specialist, how to improve their harvests.
This project complements SurfAid’s ongoing efforts to combat ubiquitous food insecurity and malnutrition in villages where nearly one in four children are underweight and plain rice is the current dietary staple.
SurfAid works with communities to develop their own solutions that are culturally and geographically appropriate to the unique environment of remote islands. Using a ‘hand up, not a hand out’ approach, SurfAid develops leaders from within villages and builds their capacity to support the development of the community.
In conjunction with the villages themselves, SurfAid also works in partnership with the Indonesian government to achieve national priorities and increase the sustainability of achieved outcomes.
SurfAid is implementing an overarching Mother and Child Health program in Nias that focuses not only on improving nutrition, but access to clean water and health education services too.
This project is one of many smaller projects that contributes to the desired outcome of improved nutrition. Small food businesses provide two of the three requisite components to achieve this outcome: food availability and access to food (additional household income). Other projects within the program address health and sanitation factors that impact on food utilisation (the third pre-condition for improving nutrition).