The Global Hunger Index 2020 has created debate and discussion across media, and the civil society since the result from the report revealed Timor-Leste registered a high number of malnutrition when compared with other countries.

This short report is aimed at explaining the content of the report and providing several recommendations on how Timor-Leste should resolve the problem of malnutrition in the country. The GHI report was published by the International NGO “Welte Hunger Hilfe” and “Concern Worldwide”, which used data from the UNICEF, WHO and other UN Agencies.

The report was made based on four indicators which are undernourished, stunted, wasted and mortality rate. The surveyors made this calculation based on comparative values from gathering the data across many countries.

The final results provide a nominal value to every country. These values start from 0, which means the country is not facing hunger, and close to 100 means the entire population are hunger. Timor-Leste obtained a score of 37.6, while other nations such as Chad, in Africa, obtained scores greater than Timor-Leste. Due to this high score of 37.6 Timor-Leste has been included in the category of “Alarming”. Some other countries showed no results because the report excludes nations which are facing crises such as Yemen and Syria, despite these exclusions the work shows a total of 107 countries that have complete data, only one other country has been put into the same category as Timor-Leste.

This information is not new to the situation in Timor-Leste, the nation is aware of the issues of malnutrition as a national problem which needs the attention of all entities. According to the data from Timor-Leste Demography Health Survey (TLDHS) 2016, Only 13% of children and young people aged 6 to 23 need to follow a recommended diet, and 27% of women suffer from malnutrition and 23% aged between 15 and 49 years of anemia.

The 2020 GHI has introduced data which differs from the data published by TLDHS, about the high level of malnutrition in Timor-Leste.

Following are the table used by the GHI to calculate the value in Timor-Leste and the Value from the TLDHS 2016.

Table 1. data comparison TLDHS 2016 and GHI 2020

The Difference in data from the TLDHS compared to GHI does not mean the GHI data is not credible. After seeing the report from the GHI, “Lao Hamutuk” has contacted the surveyor in the GHI to confirm the data obtained and sourced for their report.

According to the explanation from the GHI, the data for the 2020 GHI report was taken from UNICEF, World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO) that have been gathering in the database of JME (Joint Malnutrition Estimates), and the database from World Bank relating to child nutrition.

GHI analysed the data and related this to the statistics available from other data that is giving about the impact of stunted child development. They used this model of analysis throughout five years to ensure that this model has given the correct estimations.

If they only used data from only TLDHS, the result would have been a lot worse than the current result, which could have resulted in Timor-Leste obtain the score of up to 41.4 compare to 37.6 which was achieved via the means used by GHI.

Based on the reality in Timor-Leste, many people are yet to have gained access to nutritional foods, especially children, which are not getting enough food with nutrition. This situation has created an impact on the children of the next generation. Apart from not having access to good food, they have a problem with their health, education, productivity, capacity and family in the future.

These situations and problems are difficult to resolve, as it is complicated. In Timor-Leste, only 25% of the population has access to food security. The diseases such as diarrhea are widespread because of less clean water and the sanitation facilities.

Following the DHS 2015, only 50% of households in Timor-Leste have access to a good sanitation facility, most use open pit toilets, and 58% of households in rural areas have access to the clean water close to their houses.

To respond to this situation, there needs to be an investment in the sanitation and clean water as these are significant factors—promotion and consumption of local foods with a variety of diversification.

They are promoting the fishing sector and aquaculture to provide the fish with low cost to the communities.

Following of the recommendations from the Ministry of Health relating to the consumption of a healthy diet or consuming local food that is planted in our homes, such as potatoes, rice, pumpkin, other growing foods such as fish, eggs, and red beans also other vegetables and fruits.

“La’o Hamutuk” continue to encourage the entire population, including competent authorities to work together to fight against malnutrition.

[1] As percentage from the population children under five years of age.

[2] The Report filled the nutrition difficulties of Timor-Leste, on December 2019.

[3] IPC Chronic Food Security Analysis 2019 http://www.ipcinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ipcinfo/docs/3_IPC_Timor%20Leste_CFI_20182023_English.pdf

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