FPS and ChildFund in Timor-Leste
Rita Mu – ChildFund Australia
Food Plant Solutions has partnered with ChildFund Timor-Leste to help prevent child malnutrition and strengthen food security in vulnerable communities in Timor-Leste.
Four handbooks, created by Food Plant Solutions, featuring photos and information on a range of local, high-nutrient foods will be used to help families identify healthy eating options for their children and establish kitchen gardens in homes and schools.
Foods featured in the handbooks include leafy greens and vegetables such as slippery cabbage, amaranth and cassava leaves, as well as fruits, nuts, and root crops such as sweet potato and taro.
The handbooks will be used in ChildFund Timor-Leste’s Integrated Nutrition and Integrated Early Childhood Development projects, which are helping to tackle the poor nutrition levels of children across Timor-Leste.
According to the most recent Demographic Health Survey, published in 2016, while stunting in children under the age of five in Timor-Leste has decreased from 58% in 2009 to 46%, wasting rates have increased from 19% to 24%. The effects of malnutrition, particularly during the first two years of life, can result in long-lasting impacts on cognitive and physical development.
In addition to helping communities establish kitchen gardens, ChildFund Timor-Leste is also educating families on healthy hygiene practices, and how to prepare nutritious meals for their children using the local foods they have grown. Community Health Volunteers are also being trained to carry out regular growth monitoring sessions for children to prevent, identify and help treat cases of malnutrition.
As 70% of Timor Leste’s citizens are rain fed subsistence farmers, the project is also addressing the role of climate change as an indirect cause of malnutrition and poor dietary diversity. The Australian Humanitarian Partnership Disaster Ready Project is being implemented by ChildFund Timor-Leste in consortium with Plan International, to teach families about climate smart farming techniques and adaptive nutritional practices.