Interfaith Leaders Are Fighting Against Stunting


Posted : November 20, 2017

Jakarta – Interfaith cooperation is an important factor in the fight against stunting, because religious leaders have significant leverage to drive community to prevent stunting, which will threaten the future of next generations.

“Let us call for a jihad (struggle) against stunting. We need to fight for better future of Indonesia’s next generations,” said Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid, member of PP Muhammadiyah’s Majelis Tarjih and Tajdid, in the National Interfaith Dialogue to Prevent Stunting conducted by MCA-Indonesia on November 14th-15th, 2017. “We must prevent stunting because it can be a start of national disaster. Now we assume that in 30 years, Indonesia will get a demographic bonus due to the sheer number of productive workforce. However, if we cannot solve the problem of stunting in children, what we will get is demographic disaster instead.”

Achmad Ishomuddin, lecturer of Raden Intan Lampung State Islamic University, agreed with Wahid. He added that all religions have similar teachings, including the obligation to love children. “Universal tenets like this can unite us to fight stunting,” said Ishomuddin, who is also a cleric and Rais Syariah Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in 2010-2015.

Reverend of Javanese Christian Church, Yoel M Indrasworo, believed that such interfaith dialogue is important to unite religious leaders’ perspective on stunting, which will be channeled to the clergy. He said that in Christian theology, parents must take care and raise their children with love, because children are gifts from God. “Confession of faith, that includes believing that children are gifts from the Lord, should prompt parents to nurture their children’s body and soul,” Indrasworo said.

In terms of stunting prevention, the involvement of Fatayat NU and Nasyiatul Aisyiyah – female organizations under NU and Muhammadiyah, respectively – can be shared with other religious institutions. Fatayat NU has launched its National Movement to Prevent Stunting. Meanwhile, Nasyiatul Aisyiyah has established Nasyiah Resilient Young Families and has been equipping its cadres and network with knowledge about stunting.

In addition, the Indonesian Nutritionist Association (Persagi) has been working with the Indonesian Christian Association for Health Services (Pelkesi) and other Christian denomination networks.

The dialogue participants then agreed to establish an Interfaith Forum to Prevent Stunting to strengthen cooperation in the fight against stunting. Members of the forum are representatives of Nasyiatul Aisyiyah, Fatayat NU, Pelkesi, Persagi, Supreme Council for the Confucian Religion in Indonesia (Matakin), Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), and Indonesian Buddhist Council (Walubi). The forum has managed to meet the Parliament’s Health Commission to discuss the severity of stunting, and will conduct other strategic outreach in the future. (Bunga Manggiasih/MCA-Indonesia)