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SurfAid works in remote islands in Indonesia, where access to basic services is very low. This contributes to high maternal and child mortality rates, and low mother-and-child health status. Indonesia is one of ten countries with the highest number of deaths under the age of five due to lack of basic health care, access to clean water and sanitation, and food insecurity. Nearly 28 million Indonesians lack safe water, and 71 million lack access to improved sanitation facilities.
Breast milk is one of the most important components of infant care. It provides complete nutrition and helps to prevent and fight infections. Malnutrition can make a person more susceptible to infection, and infection contributes to further malnutrition - causing a vicious cycle.
Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no food or drink other than breast milk) helps break this cycle as it prevents the intake of pathogens in food or water. Given the poor water quality in Indonesia, exclusive breastfeeding can help protect infants, minimising the damage caused by the malnutrition-infection cycle.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months and partial breastfeeding (meaning a diet of breast milk along with some other food and drink) to age 24 months to improve infant and maternal health. In Nias, a remote island in Indonesia, uptake of exclusive breastfeeding is very low.
Our interviews with community members show that traditional practices and beliefs negatively impact the uptake of the practice and there is limited knowledge about the advantages of breast milk. The main barrier however, is the lack of support for husbands. All Nias women have farming tasks in the field, often hours away from their home. Usually, women are expected to go back to work in the field to support her husband three months after delivering their child.
They leave their babies at home for hours in the care of slightly older siblings or grandparents because community members strongly believe that babies should not go with their mother to the field. As mothers are more likely to breastfeed their babies directly (as there are often no bottles, pumps, or ways to store breast milk), these babies do not receive exclusive breastfeeding as recommended.
This project will focus on increasing the uptake of exclusive breastfeeding by gaining the support of husbands, fathers and male family members.
Activities will include:
$22,500 of the total $25,000 raised by the Footprints Network will go towards:
The remaining $2,500 will go towards accountability and quality assurance costs.
This project will work directly with communities in Hiliduho and Gido, training community health volunteers as peer educators to increase community engagement and education on key messages. 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 five-year 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 which contribute to the desired outcome of improved nutrition and mother and child health. Uptake of breastfeeding provides one of the three requisite components to achieve this outcome: improved health status and food utilisation. Other projects within the program address food availability and access to food (additional household income).