IPOH: The Health Ministry has been carrying out measures to improve the nutrition of orang asli children in Pos Kemar, Gerik, since 2010 under its Community Feeding Programme, says the Perak Mentri Besar’s office.
It said under the programme, the initiative had been expanded to seven settlements from the initial four, consisting of 17 feeding centres in Pos Kemar.
According to the information gathered by the Mentri Besar’s office from the state Health Department, the local volunteers provided children there with milk, biscuits and vitamins once a week.
“However, Kampung Ralak and seven other orang asli settlements could not be reached due to logistics and transportation issues.
“There are 643 children below the age of six in Pos Kemar. Out of that, 86 are suffering from malnutrition,” said the statement.
The Mentri Besar’s office was responding to a report in The Star on April 30 on the poor nutrition among the orang asli children in Pos Kemar and claims by the community of not having enough food.
The orang asli also claimed that there was little left of their food bank – the jungle – due to rampant deforestation.
Since June 2018, three blockades have been set up in the area – Kampung Tasik Asal Cunex, Kampung Ralak and Kampung Cenawing – as the orang asli fight to protect their ancestral land from being logged.
Earlier, after a memorandum of understanding between Scanda Sky and Amal by Malaysia Airlines Bhd for the Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh-Guangzhou route, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said he would check with the district officer and other relevant agencies on the claims and promised to improve the situation.
“There are also children who stay in urban areas from poor familiess that need nutrition and it is not just children of rural areas.
“The state government has introduced the ‘Food Card’ to help families get nutritional food, including those living in interiors as well as for the orang asli communities,” he said.The statement also added that 80% of children in Pos Kemar had received the polio vaccination while 75% had received jabs for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
The remaining children, it said, failed to get the vaccinations as their parents had moved deeper into the jungles.
On claims of rampant logging in Gerik by the orang asli, it said the state consistently complied with the annual logging quota set by the National Land Council.
Logging activities, it said, were also carried out through the selective logging method where only trees which met the standard requirements after a tagging process could be logged.
“The Mentri Besar will not hesitate to freeze any logging licence if the activities do not comply with the requirements.
“For example, logging activities along Sungai Rui in Gerik have been ordered to stop pending investigations into river pollution problems,” it added.
Continuous programmes, said the statement, had also been carried out to elevate the quality of life of the orang asli community, pointing out that each village or settlement had its own unique problem, and that a “one size fits all” solution would not work.
The state government, according to the statement, was fully committed to improving the livelihood of the orang asli communities in Perak.
Out of the 256 orang asli settlements scattered in several districts in the state, the largest number is located in Chenderiang – 101 villages – the constituency of the Mentri Besar.
It said that in August, Ahmad Faizal had visited Pos Kemar after receiving complaints over logging activities and announced the development of the Perak Elephant Sanctuary to resolve wildlife encroachment issues.