Food Security Atlas for Timor Leste
“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, and to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life."
World Food Summit Plan of Action (Rome Italy 13 November 1996).
Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia. It recently emerged from centuries of colonial rule followed by 24 years of foreign occupation, and regained independence in 2002 after a referendum in 1999.
A number of UN Peacekeeping missions have been assisting the country to augment its capacity in terms of security, governance and justice since 1999. During April and May of 2006, there was a rapid deterioration in internal security and the ensuing civil unrest resulted in the displacement of 150,000 people, the disintegration of law and order and the destruction of infrastructure. The violence led the government to request continued assistance from the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and increased international police and military personnel. In February 2008, armed assaults on the President and the Prime Minister further raised the level of tension in the country. However, measures and processes that were put in place after these incidents followed constitutional stipulations, which was a positive sign and helped mitigate further unrest. Since then, the country has shown clear improvements in the law and order situation, security and democratic processes, but more time is needed to further strengthen and consolidate the still fragile democratic processes and institutions. A further extension of UNMIT’s mandate of one year was therefore granted by the UN Security Council in February 2009.
Poverty and unemployment are still considerable problems, and are amongst the underlying causes of the continued fragility of the state. The majority of the country’s one million people is still vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition and relies on a fast-depleting natural resource base for their livelihoods. According to the Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) conducted jointly by WFP and FAO in 2007, food insecurity in Timor-Leste is widespread, affecting 64 percent of households. With the exception of the petroleum sector, the economic basis of the country remains very limited, and over 40 percent of the population live below the national poverty line of 55 US cents per day.
WFP has been present in Timor-Leste since 1999 with brief interruptions in 2001-2002 and 2004.
Assistance to Vulnerable Populations in Timor Leste
WFP provides food assistance to the country’s most food-insecure and vulnerable groups to improve their nutritional status, primary education access and livelihoods through Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN), School Feeding, and Food for Work/Asset (FFW/A). WFP initiated the set-up of a multi-agency routine food security assessment system aimed to develop the capacity of government institutions in disaster preparedness and response. Furthermore, the preparatory work for a Logistics Special Operation was initiated to improve the government’s response capacity. And lastly, work was started to set up a facility to produce a local fortified food aimed at increasing the long term sustainable availability of nutritious food.
Download Timor Leste Country Sheet here