DILI – Today, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed US$ 1 million contribution from the UN SDG Fund. The funding will enable the three agencies to continue strengthening national food systems and implementing disaster risk reduction activities in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health of Timor-Leste.
"In Timor-Leste, the Strategic Development Plan outlines the overall vision of the country to transition from a least developed country to an upper-middle income country by 2030, with a healthy and safe population. It defines the agriculture sector's goals, which include improving national food security, reducing rural poverty, and promoting sustainability and conservation of Timor-Leste's rich natural resources. The Small Islands Development Programme directly aligns with the country's long-term vision," said Ms Maria Odete do Ceu Guterres, Director General, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
With one-third of the country's total population chronically food insecure, one of the highest rates in the Southeast Asia region, the Government, supported by the UN agencies and partners is faced with a urgent task to strengthen food systems that empower the most vulnerable producers and consumers, including women and girls. Subsistence agricultural production is the backbone of Timor-Leste's non-oil economy and employs 70 percent of the Timorese. However, the country remains a food deficit country, and 40 percent of its food needs are met through imports. A significant amount of the country’s food production is lost through post-harvest loss and waste before it reaches consumers.
Under the project, WFP will strengthen the capacity to develop a national forecasting system to monitor the extent of food crises. FAO will provide technologies and capacity-strengthening activities to reduce post-harvest losses. And WHO will work on building healthy eating habits through consumer education and nutrition-sensitive behaviour change programmes, particularly among pregnant and nursing mothers and children.
"This funding comes at a crucial time, especially now as Timorese communitis are still reeling under the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19," said Dageng Liu, WFP Country Director in Timor-Leste. "Through this multi-sectoral initiative, WFP will also support the development of a food crisis forecasting tool that will come in handy during implementation of national disaster risk reduction strategies, and disaster mitigation and preparedness plans," he added.
"This project encompasses both the supply and demand side of food. On the one hand, the promotion of safe and healthy food policy environment, and on the other, the behavioural change in consumption needs as a means of breaking the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition, particularly for vulnerable groups, including women and children," said Dr Arvind Mathur, WHO Representative.
"The project has come at the right time as it is important to reduce the wastage of edible foods by reducing post-harvest losses, which would increase availability and access of food, and protect the ecosystems. Also, by ensuring that local producers can enter a secure market, through policy advocacy, this would incentivize sustainable food value chains,” said Rajendra Aryal, FAO representative.
"This joint programme focuses on transformative change to address malnutrition, food security and low agricultural productivity in Timor-Leste and is directly aligned with the joint commitment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework as it aims to contribute to and accelerate progress on a number of Sustainable Development Goals," said Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator.
The thirteen development partners supporting the UN Joint SDG Fund are the European Union, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxemburg, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
NOTES TO EDITOR
The WFP is the world's largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
WHO works worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. The WHO ensures that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being.
FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Our goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.