Indonesia health project makes progress on child nutrition

This project is funded by the Australian Government through

Australian Aid

By Melissa Sprake, Grants Manager

Late last year I went on my first visit to the INVOLVE project, based in central Sulawesi, Indonesia, to monitor the project’s progress and provide support. I was very encouraged to see the community’s enthusiasm to improve the situation for their children. Funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the project’s goal is to increase the nutritional status of children in their first two years of life.

I visited a health post which had some good examples of improved health, improved attendance, parents bringing their sick children more frequently, and pregnant mothers attending more antenatal sessions. Training has improved the capacity of the midwives, and attendance has increased from 50 people per month to 100 per month. They say this is due to the popularity of pregnancy classes that they are running, and that the health workers are explaining more clearly why immunisations are needed.

This increase in services and awareness means that parents are now bringing their sick children to the health post more often, instead of going to the traditional healers. The number of cases of significantly malnourished children has decreased and during the month of my visit there were none.

The project has also encouraged people in one area to start home vegetable gardens to be able to provide their children with a variety of fresh vegetables to improve their nutrition. This took a long time to get started, but now most households have a home garden.


I met a young mother named Lisnawati who has attended sessions at the health post regularly, and has put into practice what she has learned. She has a home garden and has learned the importance of growing a variety of food, how to feed her two-year-old son Akbar, and the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

Many people in the villages are growing their own vegetables now. The reason it took a long time to persuade the community to grow their own vegetables was because they believed the soil was not good near their houses. A few decided to try and their vegetables grew well. Others saw that it worked and also began to grow their own gardens.