Indonesia Borrows $650M from World Bank to Address Childhood Stunting

Indonesian President Joko Widodo meets President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim (Credit: Jim Yong Kim's official Twitter account).

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories)–Indonesia borrows US$650 million loans from the World Bank to tackle childhood stunting and modernize irrigation system.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday (04/06) said will use the debt to tackle childhood stunting. He added Indonesia cooperates with the World Bank to tackle childhood stunting as the institution has a lot of experiences to tackle the issue in other countries.

“Ask the Minister of Health [the details of the loan], but essentially we want to use technology, involving the private sector, using new innovations, involving Islamic organizations and other religions for this stunting reduction as soon as possible,” he said after the meeting with President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim.

President of World Bank Jim Yong Kim said childhood stunting is a problem that exists in every developing country. It is an extremely serious problem because it will make the stunting children cannot fully participate in the country’s future economy.

“Taking childhood stunting is the absolute key to preparing the population to compete in the economy of the future,” he said.

The World Bank has learned from many years that stunting problem can be removed as long as there is strong visionary political will from the country’s leader. Kim praised the Widodo has shown this strong political will to tackle childhood stunting than any other large developing country in history.

He believed Indonesia will drive down stunting as quickly as possible with a combination of strong political leadership, latest technology, the participation of all society including the private sector, religious institution, and the civil society.

“And that would be an extremely critical lesson for every other country in the world,” he said.

The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank earlier approved two loans to Indonesia amounting to US$650 million for child nutrition improvement programs and modernize irrigation systems. The World Bank welcomes the Indonesian government’s investment loan for these two issues as it plays an important role in infrastructure and human resource quality improvement.

The World Bank Director for Indonesia and Timor Leste Rodrigo A Chaves earlier said US$400 million loans will be used for investing in nutrition to tackle childhood stunting. The program will also benefit from an additional US$20 million grant from the Global Financing Facility, a partnership that helps countries tackling health and nutrition problems. The program focuses to increase the pregnant women and children under two years accessibility to ket health, nutrition services, education, and sanitation.

Indonesia encounters a serious problem of childhood stunting. In Indonesia, 1 out of 3 children under five years suffered stunting, equivalent to 9 million children, and 2 out of 3 children did not complete the immunization package as well as the low use of iron supplements and worm medicines.

Furthermore, another US$250 million will be used for the Strategic Irrigation Modernization and Urgent Rehabilitation project. The project is co-funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The program will bring benefit for 887,000 families of farmers that part of the National Reform Agenda with focus on decentralization, democratization, and modernization. Irrigation modernization is a crucial problem for Indonesia as 60 per cent of the poor population with income under US$1.25 per day is heavily dependent on the agriculture sector. In addition, the irrigation modernization will improve Indonesia’s food security in the future.

With a population of 262 million and growing rapidly, food security is one of the key issues in Indonesia. In 2015, Indonesia ranked 69th out of 113 countries in Global Food Security Index 2017. It was below the country’s regional peers in Southeast Asia including Malaysia 41st, Thailand 55th, and Vietnam 64th.

Indonesia’s food import trend continues growing in recent years. Indonesia imported their food staple, rice, as much as 2.90 million ton in 2014-2017, equivalent to Rp16.6 trillion. The country projected to import 1 million ton of rice this year.