NPR

How Postcards Solved The Problem Of Disappearing Rice

Indonesia had a program to provide subsidized rice to the poor. But thousands of kilos didn't make it to the recipients.
A laborer arranges sacks of rice at a market in Jakarta. Source: Jewel Samad

Imagine if you had a rice delivery system that was supposed to deliver grain from point A, a government warehouse, to point B, homes of low-income residents.

But for every 100 kilos of rice that left the warehouse less than 50 kilos were actually reaching people's kitchens. This was the situation in Indonesia for nearly two decades as the government tried to provide a nutritional safety net to the nation's poorest citizens.

The program called Raskin, or Rice for the Poor, was set up in the wake of the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. Its goal was

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