Q&A with Becky McLaren
Can you briefly describe the Timor-Leste project and your recent visit to the country?
The project is a strategic review of the food security and nutrition situation in Timor-Leste. We’re working with the World Food Programme, which has done similar work in other countries. We’re evaluating what’s been done in the past and what’s currently going on in order to make recommendations for future work. Our review is framed around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 2 which aims to end hunger worldwide by 2030.
Our recent trip was an opportunity to develop relationships with our different collaborators, including our main partner in the review, CEPAD; build an outline for the project’s next steps; and meet other stakeholders – government, international and local NGOs, and civil society organizations.
Can you tell us about some of the unique nutrition and food security challenges facing Timor-Leste?
Timor-Leste is a post-conflict country which is still in the window of peacebuilding and becoming more stable. The country was colonized by Portugal until 1975 and then occupied by Indonesia until the UN helped it achieve independence in 2002. There was a reemergence of conflict in 2006, and UN peacekeepers maintained a presence in Timor-Leste until 2012. At the present, the country has a unique opportunity to move beyond creating a stable government and into building food and nutrition security. The government has the chance to restructure the agriculture and food systems.
Timor-Leste also has serious nutrition challenges, with one of the highest stunting rates in the world.
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