Timor-Leste: Promoting Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security in Timor-Leste


Timor-Leste, one of the world's newest countries, also has among the world's highest rates of undernourishment and child and maternal mortality. Nearly half of all children under five suffered from malnutrition, with rates on the rise, when the Joint Programme was launched in 2009. The programme's aim was to improve the health and nutritional status of pregnant and lactating women and under-five children by improving institutional capacity and increasing access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. 

The programme had these objectives:

  1. Improve the health and nutritional status of pregnant and lactating women and under-five children in four districts, through infant and young child feeding initiatives, nutrients commodities and micronutrients supplementation, and community management of acute malnutrition linked with supplementary feeding, among other interventions;
  2. Ensure that 20% more children gained access to, and 25% more children completed, compulsory quality basic education in four selected districts; and
  3. Ensure that food security and nutrition surveillance systems were established and functioning at all sub-districts in four selected districts.

The project also provided information and counseling on better feeding and caring practices by women and children and sought ways to promote the scaling-up of effective interventions, such as multiple micronutrients (Sprinkles) supplementation and salt iodization. 

Main achievements included:

  • With support from the programme, the Ministry of Health revised the 2004 National Nutrition Strategy in order to strengthen the food security and nutrition sectors.
  • The prevalence of underweight under-five children dropped from 45.7% in 2009 to 28.9% in 2012, according to data from the Health Management Information System.
  • The programme helped establish 94 vegetable farmer groups, 32 small-scale livestock farmer groups and 13 fish farmer groups with training, farming tools, seeds and technical support services. These farmer groups established 1,600 home gardens, 30 small-scale livestock farms and 13 fish farms; more than 2,000 households were consuming produce from their gardens/farms and selling the surplus. Members of 14 Mother Support Groups learned how to link home gardening with better infant feeding practices.
  • A total of 84 school gardens were created in four programme districts, with the schools using the harvested vegetables to supplement school meals. Some 450 members of school communities where gardens were planted in 2011 received nutrition training the following year.
  • The production of Timor Vita, a micronutrient powder (MNP) supplementation, was launched in April 2012, and more than 1,200 children aged 6-23 months received the supplementation.  
  • The programme strengthened Timor Leste's food security and nutrition surveillance system by building the capacity of government officials at both central and field levels to collect, compile and analyze data. It also established the database for the Food Security Information and Early Warning System in all 13 districts of the country as well as at the central level.
  • Trainings were provided for District Food Security Officers, Agriculture Extension Workers and members of the Inter Ministerial Taskforce for Food and Nutrition Security. The Taskforce produced the fifth “Quarterly Situation Analysis Report” in September 2012 based on data and information provided by the Agriculture Extension Workers through the District Food Security Officers. These reports are used by the government to formulate actions on food security.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Timor Leste.



The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 13 Nov 2009 - 31 Mar 2013
Net funded amount $3,500,000
Participating UN agencies FAO, UNICEF, WFP, WHO
National partners Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry (MTCI), Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS)
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