To mark World Food Day on October 16, RESULTS International (Australia) today released two reports on the nutrition situation in Indonesia and Burma, calling for the Australian government to prioritise nutrition in its aid program.

Part of a five part series, the reports highlight the situation of nutrition in children under five, and its impact on national development.

“One thing we found is that although Indonesia has halved the proportion of people who go hungry every day to around 8%, this has not translated into improved child nutrition. Since 2007, the number of children with stunted growth has actually slightly increased”, said Samantha Chivers, Nutrition Campaign Manager at RESULTS.

The reports also found that in Burma, a country of over 50 million people, geographical challenges and very low public spending on health mean that rural areas, where the majority of the population live, experience stunting rates of over 50%.

“Undernutrition is a massive problem that does not receive nearly enough attention, Not only does undernutrition stunt physical development during childhood, it can hinder your ability to go to school, and to get a stable job as an adult. It stops you learning, and it stops you earning” Ms Chivers continued.

The Asia Pacific region, however, is still home to two-thirds of the world’s hungry people. While some countries like China, Viet Nam and Thailand have made significant progress towards food security, others still struggle.

Globally, more than six million children die every year around the world before their fifth birthday.

A study in the Lancet in 2013 showed that nearly half of these deaths were caused by undernutrition.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Asia Pacific region is home to two-thirds of the world’s hungry people.