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Papuan children urged to eat more fish to prevent stunting

Radio New Zealand - August 31, 2023

A provincial government in West Papua has launched a campaign to promote fish consumption among school students to help overcome the condition, which is generally caused by poor nutrition.

The Antara news agency quotes governor George Yarangga saying this is an extension of a programme that has been used in other parts of Indonesia for nearly 20 years.

"Therefore, the Southwest Papua provincial government welcomes and realises the programme through this fish-eating movement that involves children," he said.

Yarangga hoped the campaign could be rolled out throughout the province which ranked fourth in terms of stunting prevalence in Indonesia at 20 percent, according to the Community-Based Nutritional Reporting App.

The head of the province's Agriculture, Food, Marine, and Fisheries Office, Absalom Solossa, said the fish-based meals prepared for the activity range from grilled fish, fish satay, fish soup, and fishballs.

"We prepared a lot of fish and it could be for 500 children," he said.

Fish is a source of protein that contains fatty acids, such as omega 3 and 6, and can be beneficial for children's brain growth when consumed properly and optimally, Solossa added.

"We will carry out this activity continuously as an effort to reduce stunting rates."

In 2018 the Indonesia-based human rights researcher Andreas Harsono said malnutrition was widespread throughout West Papua as imported foods have shattered traditional diets.

West Papuans had long lived off traditional Melanesian staple foods such as sago, sweet potato and pork, but these had been increasingly replaced by rice and instant noodles.

A study released last year showed that mothers who graduated from primary school and under were 1.3 times more likely than mothers with a college education to have stunted children.

Globally, nearly 151 million children are stunted.

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/496938/papuan-children-urged-to-eat-more-fish-to-prevent-stuntin