The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced plans to assist the Government of Timor-Leste in meeting the food needs of people living in communities affected by an ongoing drought that has reduced food availability in many parts of the nation and appealed to donors for additional support.
“There is a need for food assistance due to the persistence of the drought, and we will work closely with the Government to ensure that food is available through the lean season,” said Tarek Elguindi, WFP Representative in Timor Leste.
“With our Ministry counterparts, WFP has met international agencies and donors to alert them to this urgent need.”
A recent food security and crop survey conducted by WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) found that drought conditions and a locust outbreak had caused a 30 percent decline in crop production on the island in the past year, leaving one fifth of the population vulnerable to food shortages through the coming “lean season”.
WFP estimates that the drought has resulted in an overall food shortage of 85,000 metric tons, and indicates that at least 16,000 tons of additional food assistance, valued at up to US$12 million, will be needed to meet Timor-Leste’s food needs in the coming year.
Contributions from international donors are sought to cover the costs of food assistance which will be delivered by WFP and the Government.
In assisting the Government, WFP will increase food deliveries through community-level Food for Work projects and with increased food assistance to children and pregnant women and nursing mothers, through WFP’s Maternal and Child Health and School Feeding programmes.
Working closely with the Government, WFP and FAOhave already taken the following actions to avert food shortages during the lean season:
- Government procurement of food reserves available for commercial purchase and use over the coming months;
- Pre-positioning of initial quantities of emergency food stocks by WFP in drought-affected areas;
- Spraying of locust infestations completed in this month in the affected areas by the Government and FAO;
- Assisting the Government in the procurement of seeds for next year’s planting.