At first glance Timor-Leste (East Timor) is a tropical paradise. But this first impression conceals desperately high levels of malnutrition.
Shortly after gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Timor Leste was invaded by Indonesia. After over a quarter of a century of occupation and conﬂict, and three years of UN-administered transition, independence was ﬁnally granted in 2002. The country was born with little infrastructure, widespread unemployment, poverty and political instability.
Timor-Leste has the third highest ratio of stunting in children under-5 in the world, resulting from a complex mix of poverty, food insecurity, poor hygiene and sanitation, highly prevalent food taboos, low levels of education, particularly amongst women, underlying conditions such as worm infestation and chronic diarrhoea, and poor child feeding practices in some cases.
For World Food Day 2014, HART released a detailed briefing on malnutrition in Timor-Leste and beyond, which can be downloaded here.