DILI –The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Health today started to distribute Super Cereal, a fortified blend rich in vitamins and minerals, to vulnerable groups. Procured with funding contribution from China, the nutritious food will be distributed to more than 144,000 malnourished pregnant and breastfeeding women across all 13 municipalities over the next four months.
“The contribution agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and WFP on the provision of food assistance in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste comes at the right moment as many communities are struggling to meeting their food needs due to the pandemic and natural disasters like last year’s cyclone. On behalf of our Government, I extend my sincere appreciation to China for its generosity and humanitarianism,” said Minister of Health H.E. Dr. Odete Maria Freitas Belo, during the launching ceremony today at Metinaro Community Health Center in Dili.
In Timor-Leste, food security and malnutrition remain as a persistent challenge. Over one-third of the population are chronically food insecure. Among children under 5 years of age, 47 percent are suffering from stunted growth, and 32 percent are underweight. Thirty percent of women of reproductive age are anaemic. Today’s distribution is part of a WFP supplementary feeding programme to tackle malnutrition.
“China is a long-standing partner of WFP. And providing humanitarian assistance is one of our priority areas. The devastating floods hit Dili last year and the latest impact of the global food crisis has made it difficult for many to access adequate and nutritious food in Timor-Leste,” said Ambassador Dr. Xiao Jianguo. “With this contribution, we will be able to improve the lives of women and their families. Besides supporting pregnant and breastfeeding women, China is also working with WFP to provide school meals to students.”
With rising food prices around the world, the food security and the nutrition gap in Timor-Lest are widening. According to the recent socio-economic impact assessment conducted by the Government of Timor-Leste, 38 percent of the households had to reduce the quality of their diet, while 21 percent in the lowest wealth quantiles had to skip a meal to cope with dwindling income or resources.
“The conflict in Ukraine is adding more pressure to the already high food prices around the world, stretching people’s ability to sustain an adequate diet. We are honoured to be working alongside the Ministry of Health to assist the most vulnerable people with life-saving food and nutrition support when they need us the most,” said Dageng Liu, WFP Country Director in Timor-Leste. “We thank China for its timely funding, which is absolutely critical in sustaining our life-saving response in the country.”
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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For more information please contact:
Josefina Pereira, WFP Timor-Leste,