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Project details

Support mother and child health in remote Indonesia Indonesia , RUN BY: SurfAid | STATUS: COMPLETED

This project is 100% Funded



AUD 25,008

Raised from 7,018 people

Project background

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.  

Project overview

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:

  1. Developing information, education and communication materials to increase community engagement and knowledge about the importance of breastfeeding, and practicalities how to store breast milk.
  2. Delivering information and behavior change sessions to husbands, fathers and male family members on exclusive breastfeeding.

What's covered in project cost

$22,500 of the total $25,000 raised by the Footprints Network will go towards:

  • Development of a community-led educational video and games on how fathers can support exclusive breastfeeding, tailored to local cultural context. This includes: workshop with health promotion staff, community volunteers for script development, practising, renting equipment, producing the video and games.
  • Development of information materials, including posters and brochures, on key messages on exclusive breastfeeding, for men and women, tailored to local cultural context.
  • Workshops with fathers and mothers and community health volunteers in two sub-districts in Nias (Hiliduho and Gido) using the developed materials.

The remaining $2,500 will go towards accountability and quality assurance costs.

Partners and community involvement

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.

Part of a larger strategy

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).

How was this funded?

Thanks to hundreds of tiny donations from these online businesses and their customers.

World Nomads USA
World Nomads Canada
Travel Insurance Direct AU
World Nomads Australia
World Nomads NZ
World Nomads UK
World Nomads Global
World Nomads Europe
World Nomads Ireland

SurfAid International is a non-profit humanitarian organisation that works to improve the health, wellbeing and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions connected to us through surfing.