"The messages on health and nutrition for mothers have been very helpful for us in the village," explained Marike Gobay, the former head of the health centre in Bibida Sub-district, Papua province. “I have enormous hopes for the BANGGA Papua program because I have seen firsthand how it helped increase awareness about good nutrition practices for mothers. They also received the money to buy nutritious food for their children."
The universal child grant – Bangun Generasi dan Keluarga Papua Sejahtera (BANGGA Papua) – is a program initiated by the Papua Provincial Government to improve the health of indigenous Papuan children. The BANGGA Papua program provides monthly cash grants of A$20 and key health and nutrition messages to mothers of children aged 0-4 years.
KOMPAK and its local partner, the BaKTI Foundation, are supporting the government to implement this initiative by helping to formulate technical guidelines and communication strategies for BANGGA Papua. Other partners – such as MAHKOTA and UNICEF – are also providing assistance. Having effective communication strategies for beneficiaries has been essential for the success of the program.
According to Marike, many villagers refused to participate at the start of the program, considering elements of the program contrary to local beliefs. Marike noted “The beneficiaries of BANGGA Papua must have an electronic ID Card. To obtain this, the villagers must get their biometric data recorded. The community members considered this biometric recording process taboo in their local beliefs.”
Due to this belief, many villagers rejected the program, including those in Pasir Putih, where Marike works. "We continued to approach them and raise their awareness. Some still refused to participate. But we constantly convinced them until they finally understood and were willing to be beneficiaries," Marike added.
For Marike, the program has led to notable improvements in the health and nutrition status of children in the region. One example she shared was Egianus Kudiai who was born with a premature condition and has subsequently grown to be a healthy toddler. Egianus, who is now eight months old, was the beneficiary of BANGGA Papua. According to Marike, Egianus' mother now understood how to use the BANGGA Papua fund for her children's health. She used the funds from BANGGA Papua to buy nutritious ingredients for herself to ensure she is healthy enough to provide breastfeeding for her child. She is now also providing nutritious foods for her son.
"This child was born prematurely," Marike said while pointing to her photo. "Thanks to BANGGA Papua, this child is now healthy."
Over 30,000 children are currently being supported through the BANGGA Papua program.