DILI, july 12, 2023 (TATOLI) – The Unit of Mission to Combat Stunting (UNMICS) and the National Council Youth of Timor-Leste (UNMICS) promote the Timorese youth network to share knowledge about safe and nutritious foods.
At this point, the UNMICS and NCYTL mobilize Timorese youth groups across Timor-Leste to be involved in TL’s youth Network and join the effort to combat malnutrition and stunting in Timor-Leste.
“It is a great opportunity to gather all youth groups from across the territory of Timor-Leste. We seek to engage all parties, including Government Ministries, relevant institutions, United Agency Organizations, Civil society, and Youth groups, to fight against malnutrition and share food nutrition knowledge,’’ The Executive Director of UNMICS, Filipe Da Costa, told journalists at the NIH conference room today.
Da Costa said the main causes of malnutrition can be considered from several aspects composed of food insecurity, the environment, water and sanitation, people’s behaviors, and others.
The report of the World Food Program stated that Timor-Leste is a food-deficit country because it imports 60% of its food and has low agricultural productivity.
The report also said that Timor-Leste is a country that is vulnerable to climate change and a range of natural disasters that pose a threat to the livelihoods of more than 70 percent of the population, who depend on rain-fed agriculture as a main source of income.
“This fragile situation has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the 2021 Easter floods, which have combined to push even more families into food insecurity,” the report highlighted.
The report from the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Timor-Leste also stated that access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene is the most basic human need for health and well-being. However, a lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene contribute significantly to malnutrition in Timor-Leste.
The data revealed by UNICEF shows that out of 1000 live births, 42 Timorese children die before they can celebrate their 5th birthday, which is 300% more than the average of countries in East Asia and the Pacific. 47% of children under five are chronically malnourished or stunted.
From 2007 to 2019, UNICEF has helped over 238,635 people belonging to 40,956 households stop open defecation and use a latrine through community-led total sanitation programs, making 525 aldeias in 110 villages across the country certified as Open defecation-free.
While Timor-Leste has been coming out of open defecation steadily since the National Basic Sanitation Policy was enacted in 2012, UNICEF registered Only 18% of households with open defecation status as per 2021 reports. However, it is yet to be known if the remaining 82% are using the latrines as expected and if some of them have slipped back to open defecation for various reasons.
To reduce the number of children being ill from diseases like diarrhea that can lead to an increase in malnutrition, every household should have a toilet, including improved hygiene practices.
Following these situations, the Director of UNMICS, Filipe Da Costa, said Timor-Leste requires cooperation from all parties to reduce malnutrition and ensure Timor-Leste’s achievement of the 2023 National Strategic Plan and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal.
In the same place, deputy president of the National Youth Council (NCYTL), Clotilde Teresa Guterres, said NCYTL is an umbrella for gathering all youth groups to attain knowledge through capacity building and will provide support from development partners, such as the Wood Food Program (WHO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other National and international NGOs.
“We invited all youth movement groups to share ideas to combat malnutrition and stunting in Timor-Leste,’’ she said.
Clotilde said after establishing the network team, NCYTL will provide capacity building to 33 youth groups across Timor-Leste to enhance knowledge to combat malnutrition, stunting, nutritious foods, and safe foods.
So far, the prevalence Data of Malnutrition and stunting for children aged 0–56 in Timor-Leste are the following: in 2010, 58.15% were recorded, In 2013, 50.2%, In 2016, 46%, and 47.1% in 2020.
Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá
Editor: Nelia B.