City Stories | Bandung, Indonesia: The Roles of Public Health Service Through OMABA Cooking Centre for Managing Malnourished and Stunting Children

2023-03-07 16:42:56

Editor's notes

On December 12, 2022, a report, Learning from the 5th Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation, was released at the 2022 Workshop for Thought Leaders and Guangzhou Award 10th Anniversary Celebration. The report features interviews with the protagonists and stakeholders involved in these fifteen outstanding initiatives in urban innovation and evaluation on their systemic impact and global relevance.

Cities have always been a source of innovation. The 15 shortlisted cities for the 5th Guangzhou Award in the report will serve as a guiding reference for cities around the world to find new solutions. This section will share the knowledge and experience of urban governance innovation with readers by selecting excellent urban innovation cases from the report.

Bandung, Indonesia: The Roles of Public Health Service through OMABA Cooking Centre for Managing Malnourished and Stunting Children

Elah Hotimahsari’s six-year-old son, Resa, is an energetic boy who likes to ride his bicycle and play football. But as a toddler, he was a sickly child. Hotimahsari, 27, lives with her husband, a construction worker in the informal sector, in Cisaranten Kidul Village, an urban kampung in Bandung, Indonesia. With every bout of illness, she would take her son to the local puskesmas, Indonesia’s national network of public health centers.

“The nutritionist said there was a problem with his nutrition status,” Hotimahsari said. “I didn’t know how to provide good nutrition for him.”

So, the public health center directed Hotimahsari to the neighborhood cooking center, which taught her how to prepare nutritious food on a limited budget. The center also prepares meals and delivers them to Hotimahsari’s home via moto-taxi.

The cooking center in Cisaranten Kidul Village is a targeted response by the Riung Bandung Puskesmas, the district public health center serving Bandung city, which identified malnutrition and stunted growth in the village in children under five. “We had high rates of infant mortality caused by unhealthy behavior,” said Dr. Sonny Sondari, the head of the Public Health Service. “That was concerning to me.” According to the National Population and Family Planning Board, 30% of the children under five in West Java, some 2.7 million, have stunted growth due to malnutrition.

Indonesia already had access to PMT-P, a nutritional biscuit for children under five, but many children did not like the taste and their parents would instead sell the uneaten foodstuff. When Sondari and her colleagues discussed the issue with the nutrition department in 2013, a new idea emerged. “It’s better if you cook every day and the residents will accompany you for good nutrition,” said Ahyani Raksanagara, head of the Bandung Statistical Health Office. Thus was born Toddler Food Ojek, known by the Indonesian acronym OMaBa.

The city estimated there are 6,000 families with children under 5 in the village, which is home to 32,667 residents spread across a large kampung. In order to reach the entire neighborhood, the public health center reached out to the local Pemberdayaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga (Empowering Family Welfare Group, or PKK), a state-sponsored organization that exists in every village to promote local development. The women members of the PKK responded favorably, but needed guidance. Hence the city government enlisted the Bandung College of Health in Polytechnical Nutrition. The College built a mobile kitchen, hosted cooking demonstrations across the village and solicited corporate social responsibility funds from Pertamina, the national oil company.

For the first three years, PKK women cooked by themselves. The donated funds provided an allowance of 10,000 rupiah (US$0.70) per child per day for ingredients purchased from local markets. The initial phase provided meals six days per week for 11 children over three months, who were required to have their height and weight evaluated every month at the village public health center. Children rotate in and out of the program so that their height and weight can also be measured when their nutrition is the sole responsibility of their parents.