Hayu Astuti speaking to people

Hayu Astuti – Healthy Food in Times of Emergency

Our mission is to eradicate malnutrition by utilizing edible wild plants. Indonesia is one of mega-biodiversity countries, yet the rate of malnutrition among women and children is one of the highest in the world. Moreover, Indonesia, being surrounded by volcanoes and sea is prone to natural disaster, which adds to the vulnerability of Indonesian’s people livelihood. In times of emergency people would rely on outside food assistance where they have no choice on what food they should consume. Oftentimes, their option is instant food, especially when public kitchen that volunteers set-up have finished operating. In many area public kitchen is also not accessible leaving them with instant food as their only option. This project will address the problem of healthy food accessibility in times of emergency. We will first explore local biodiversity especially plants that can be eaten as well as explore local recipes, from there we will develop varieties of instant food based on local ingredients and local recipes. Food should be high in energy and nutrient dense. We will also develop a guidance for people who live in natural disaster prone area on how to survive using local resources in times of emergency. Local communities actually have local knowledge for survival system when they face emergency, but it’s being forgotten now because they rely a lot on food aid from outside. Media also captures the moment where people using local resources for survival as an unfortunate situation, this needs to be changed.

I yearn for Indonesian people to recognize how blessed they are to live in an area rich of biodiversity and I want them to value that. I yearn for them to start to appreciate and value the diversity they have in their land. Everyday we lose hundreds of species without realizing it and we do not know their function in environment, let alone their potential for human health. Food is a fundamental human right and there is a close connection between biodiversity and food. Humans have always been utilizing natural resources around them, including plants, to fulfill their needs. I want people to realize that with biodiversity, we can sustain our lives.

The first seed grant helped me to build a strong network at a local and global level. Since then I have received additional support from my network to expand my work. The initial seed grant, as it expresses in its name, was like a seed to me that it now has grown big and have more impacts in my work. This impact grant gives me an opportunity to develop my new work on response to emergency situation that happens a lot in Indonesia. Survival skill in times of emergency is lack on food survival skill. People who survive through foraging some fresh vegetables from forest will be called “pity” and being told that they should have waited for food aid instead. The reality is, food aid supply consists of instant food, which often is worse for the evacuees health. This impact grant will give me opportunity to create a program that gives people the skills to obtain healthy food in times of emergency.

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