Bakrie urges WFP to focus on feeding deprived children, young mothers in Indonesia

ROME - Indonesia's Co-ordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie told the United Nations World Food Programme yesterday that the agency's efforts in his country remain "essential to the lives of hundreds of thousands of hungry and malnourished children and women".

"Indonesia has made improvements in health, education and social services but hunger and malnutrition remain the most devastating problems," Bakrie said. "The Government is fully committed to the programme and has allocated some resources but there is not enough to meet demands. We still need WFP and donor support in our endeavour to bring good health, education and dignity to the most vulnerable and needy groups in the country."

Bakrie, addressing WFP's governing Executive Board as head of Indonesia's delegation, welcomed the Board's approval of a new three-year US$98 million programme that refines and retargets operations in Indonesia to focus more heavily on providing food assistance to more than 800,000 young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers in many of the country's poorest communities. Scheduled to run from 2008 to 2010, it will cut by half the number of beneficiaries WFP is currently reaching in the country.

"Indonesia has made impressive gains in the last decade. This project is yet another example of our innovative partnership to help lift the burden of hunger and poverty from so many people who have already faced years of multiple disasters," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

WFP's existing three-year Protracted Relief and Recovery Programme is scheduled to terminate at the end of 2007. The new programme, which reduces overall WFP activities in Indonesia by roughly 50 per cent, is more specifically targeted to maximize impact and lower costs. It narrows the focus of WFP operations to concentrate on delivering micronutrient-enriched food to infants under five years of age, primary school children, pregnant and nursing women and TB patients in rural and suburban areas of West Timor, Lombok, Madura, East Java and Greater Jakarta.

In recognition of Indonesia's vulnerability to various natural disasters, the new programme also includes a contingency reserve to deal with the effects of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other emergencies similar to the tsunami.

WFP is already phasing out of Aceh, epicentre of the tsunami that devastated the region in 2004, and is working with the Government on developing an overall hand-over strategy.

Most of the US$98 million cost of the new programme will be devoted to purchasing 125,000 tons of food commodities.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: on average, each year, we give food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP - We Feed People.

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