Indonesia: overview

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago consisting of around 18,000 islands. It is situated in South East Asia and includes such well known islands as Java, Sumatra, Bali, Komodo, Kalimantan and Timor.

It is the world’s fourth most populous nation in the world after China, India and the United States with an estimated population of 239 million (UNICEF, 2012).

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami and flooding frequently affect Indonesia. Aceh, situated on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, was one of the worst affected regions in the world to suffer the devastating effects of the tsunami in December 2004 with around 200,000 Indonesians left dead or missing, and more recently, in 2013 severe flooding in Jakarta led the Indonesian government to declare a state of emergency.

West Timor in the rainy season – landslides make roads hazardous for travel.


As more and more people from rural areas move into urban areas, huge strains are put upon housing, water supplies, health care, education and employment.


More than 120 million Indonesians live on less than $2 per day (AUSAID, 2013) with the average income being $2,580 per year.

Indonesia’s Global hunger index – Serious (IFPRI, 2012) – This rating ranks countries on the basis of a combination of three indicators: level of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality, and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient. The ranking is updated annually.

Despite improvements in child malnutrition rates, 18% of all Indonesian children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition, and 37%  of the same age group have stunted growth (National Health Survey, Ministry of Health 2010; UNICEF, 2012).

Smoke house in West Timor

Micronutrient deficiencies: including iodine deficiency, vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiencies are prevalent. A lack of these micronutrients can lead to stunted growth, anaemia, night blindness, and a reduction of intellectual and physical capabilities in children making them much less likely to achieve their full potential, and more susceptible to illness and death.

Maternal mortality rates remain particularly high in Indonesia with 240 mothers dying from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 live births (UNICEF, 2012). The equivalent figure in the UK is 12 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Malaria is a major public health problem in Indonesia. It is estimated that over 105 million of Indonesia’s 239 million population are at risk for malaria infection, and recent research estimates that about 11,000 people die per year from this disease (Malaria Journal, 2013). The elimination of malaria is a primary aim of the Indonesian government who have stated that they wish to eliminate it by 2030.

What we do

The causes of malnutrition are complex. While poverty does play a major role, it is not merely a lack of food that plagues these families. A multifaceted problem demands a comprehensive solution, and the Foundation for Mother and Child Health in Indonesia is attacking undernutrition from its many different angles.

Undernutrition occurs when not enough food is eaten and the child is repeatedly ill from infectious diseases. Children who are undernourished have lowered resistance to infection and are more likely to die from common childhood diseases such as diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections (UNICEF 2007). The ones who survive are likely to be caught up in a spiral of recurring sickness and slowed growth, often with irreversible damage to their mental and social development,

Well nourished women face fewer risks during pregnancy and childbirth and their children have a better start in life. Well nourished children perform better at school, grow into healthier adults and are able to give their own children a better start in life.

Children attending FMCH programmes in Jakarta are undernourished and come from impoverished families. Often their parents are unemployed or, if lucky enough to be employed, find work selling food on the streets of Jakarta or driving vans in their villages (kampungs). Most children attending FMCH live in very basic conditions with their family, often living in a one roomed house divided into two rooms by a curtain. Families share washing and bathroom facilities with several other families in their village. Parents have often had limited education: many of them only having had schooling up to the ages of 12 years old.

With these many problems facing families and their children, a multi faceted programme has been developed to try and alleviate the causes of undernutrition and poverty.  The Foundation for Mother and Child Health Indonesia provides health care, nutrition, education, pre school and skills training programmes for mothers, fathers and children; and provides train the trainer programmes for community health workers.

To find out more about our programmes in India, please click on the FMCH Indonesia link below.

FMCH Indonesia