FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 1-2/00 - East Timor
In addition to reinstating food production, considerable amount still needs to be done in repairing infrastructure and inducing recovery in the economy. Although an international agreement amongst key donor countries was reached late last year to provide US $ 522 million in aid, reports indicate that relatively little has been disbursed so far.
Of the original population of some 900 000 people before the crisis, it is estimated that up to 174 000 still remain in refugee camps in West Timor. UNICEF estimates that around 24 percent of refugee children in camps in border areas are suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition, whilst four percent were severely malnourished. The prevalence of diarrhoea and respiratory infection among young children is also reported to be high.
In addition to food aid, as part of the consolidated UN Interagency Appeal for East Timor, FAO has prepared a number of initiatives to rehabilitate agriculture and food production. These include the distribution of urgently needed maize and paddy seed last planting season and the deployment of an agricultural expert to assist the Emergency Coordination Unit in Dili to monitor the situation and advise on needed interventions in agriculture. An important initiative already advocated is the establishment of a seed multiplication programme to provide high quality seed to future returnees and to strengthen the quality of indigenous seed stock.