Study Targets Food Security in Timor Leste

Four International Agencies Conduct Baseline Survey Involving Thousands of Residents

30 Oct. 2007, Dili, Timor Leste – Four international agencies have joined together to conduct essential research into the food security situation in Timor Leste. Concern Worldwide, CARE, Oxfam and Christian Children’s Fund are examining the ability of residents in seven rural districts to access enough food to meet their daily nutrition requirements and to live active, healthy lives. The study’s findings will support the work of the European Union-funded Food Security Projects, which will be implemented from 2007 to 2010 by all four agencies. The projects aim to increase the food security of East Timorese communities.

The baseline survey began in mid-July and is expected to be completed by the end of 2007. It focuses on 1,200 households in Bobonaro, Liquica, Manatutu, Covalima, Oecussi, Manufahi and Lautem districts. Each agency is responsible for 300 households. The research involves family and community questionnaires that solicit quantitative and qualitative data. The survey gathers details on demographics, literacy, housing and living conditions, asset ownership, food production, diet diversity, income sources and other factors. The objective is to learn more about food accessibility, use of food for sustenance or income generation, consumption patterns, and coping strategies during times of shortage. The four agencies expect to use the information to inform and measure the effectiveness and sustainability of their current projects, to establish indicators to target vulnerable families, for use in designing future work, and to assist the European Union and the Government of Timor Leste with policy development and planning for food security and rural development.

By working together to produce an accurate picture of the food security situation across seven districts, the agencies will be able to design future projects that work with the communities to address their needs. The agencies will share the results of monitoring and evaluating the projects and develop best practices to provide sustainable solutions to food insecurity in the future.

“By understanding the current food consumption habits and malnutrition levels of a community, projects could be designed to help produce a wider variety of crops with higher yields. This would improve nutrition and provide income from surplus produce,” said CARE Country Director Diane Francisco.

More than three-quarters of rural East Timorese households depend on subsistence farming for survival. Alternate sources of food are extremely rare or non-existent. The incidence of poverty in Timor Leste continues to be one of the highest in Asia. Some 41 percent of East Timorese live below the poverty line and nine out of 10 people suffer food shortages for at least one month every year, according to United Nations reports.

“These statistics underscore the importance of food security in Timor Leste, and the survey’s timeliness and relevance,” said Concern Country Director Clare Danby.

For more information, contact:

Concern Assistant Country Director Tapan Barman at +670-7230963
CARE’s Media Manager Karina Coates at +670-7231711
Oxfam’s Sustainable Livelihoods and Food Security Coordinator Ellenora Lynch at +670-7231939 Christian Children’s Fund’s Food Security Team Leader Carlos Basilio at +670-7322105

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See Tyneside East Timor Solidarity website at:

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