Dr. José Ramos-Horta
Timor-Leste is committed to the elimination of hunger and malnutrition in all its form. This is an imperative for ethical, political economic and social reasons.
Investing in nutrition will improve the lives of all Timorese citizens and the economy of the country through improved productivity and economic growth, reduced health care costs and better achievement of educational outcomes, intellectual capacity and social development.
Personally, I do not see anything more important than optimal food and nutrition security for every Timorese citizen. Despite much political rhetoric on these topics and some progress made, Timor-Leste still has some of the highest prevalence of malnutrition in the world. Most of our children under five remain malnourished and a substantial proportion of households cannot ensure regular access to nutritious food that meets their dietary needs around the year for a healthy and productive life.
In Timor-Leste’s 20-year history, we have made significant development progress across a range of sectors, yet we have not seen gains in food and nutrition security consistent with this growth. This means finding solutions towards strategic development goal 2 to eradicating hunger remains of utmost importance.
UN agencies including WFP played a critical role in delivering emergency food aid to hundreds of displaced people during critical moments in our nation’s history; however, we have reached a stage of political stability that necessitates a shift from food aid to locally owned and sustainable hunger solutions. WFP’s strategic support to the government now includes support to developing strategies and programmes to improve food security in the country. This is much valued as it is aligned with Timor-Leste Government’s vision to create a prosperous and strong nation.