UN food agency appeals for funds to assist drought victims in Timor-Leste
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced plans to assist nearly 200,000 people in Timor-Leste affected by an ongoing drought and appealed for additional funds to provide food aid.
“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 per cent 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 $12 million, will be needed to meet the country’s food needs in the coming year.
Contributions are being sought from international donors to cover the costs of food assistance which will be delivered by WFP and the Timorese 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 FAO have already taken several measures to avert food shortages during the lean season, including pre-positioning emergency food stocks in drought-affected areas and assisting the Government in procuring seeds for next year’s planting.