Improving nutrition in Timor-Leste

Our Better Food Better Health Project takes a nutrition-sensitive agriculture approach to improving the nutrition of mothers and children under five.


This project is funded by the Australian Government through



Causes of malnutrition in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste has one of the highest rates of undernutrition in the world – the highest in Asia and higher than in most African countries. Undernutrition can have devastating effects on children’s long-term development.

The causes include low incomes, low agricultural productivity, food insecurity, limited access to health services and markets and a lack of understanding around health and nutrition.

Approximately 80 percent of the population – living predominately in rural areas – depends on subsistence food production. This means families grow limited amounts and types of food. They don’t have enough money to buy additional food, resulting in gaps in food security and nutrition.  



Malnourished children in Timor-Leste



of children under five are stunted



of children under five are affected by wasting



of children under five are underweight

Our nutrition-sensitive agriculture work in Timor-Leste

Nutrition-sensitive agriculture

Nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) is a global approach that emphasises the role agriculture plays in improving nutrition. It links to other sectors that influence the causes of malnutrition, including health, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene.

NSA programs work best when combined with nutrition programs that incorporate nutrition education and improved maternal and child feeding practices.

World Vision’s expertise in integrated programming mean we are well positioned at the forefront of this emerging practice area. We are currently implementing NSA projects in Burundi, Ghana, South Sudan, Bangladesh, Laos and Timor-Leste.  

World Vision’s Better Food Better Health Project

In Timor-Leste, Better Food Better Health is one of our multi-sectoral NSA projects. Funded by the Australian Government, it is now running until 2021 in four districts: Aileu, Baucau, Bobonaro and Covalima.

The project aims to improve the nutrition of mothers and children under five by:

  • promoting better nutrition, health and hygiene behaviour;
  • increasing the availability of nutritionally diverse foods; and
  • increasing household incomes from food production.

Community health volunteers, known as PSFs, play a central role in the project. Building on this existing government initiative, World Vision supports them to run parent clubs and visit households, spreading key health and nutrition messages.

The project also trains PSFs in superfood production, processing and storage. Superfoods are highly nutritious, grow well locally and have market potential. Examples include orange sweet potato, soybeans, moringa and eggs.

PSFs then train parents and farmer groups on improved agricultural techniques. Groups apply these techniques in their own farms, boosting the supply of superfoods in the community.  

The project will also support farmer groups to market and add value to their produce, through activities like training in tempeh and tofu production.

Finally, the project will also provide access to finance through village savings and loans groups, enabling members to provide better nutrition and other essentials for their children. 

Top: PSF Deolinda, right, visits her neighbour Esperansa to share key health and nutrition messages for a healthy pregnancy. Bottom: Alex is the project’s “Chicken Consultant”. To support PSFs in their role and improve meat and egg productivity, he provides each PSF with an incentive package including training, a chicken house, a rooster, 10 hens and chicken feed.

Better Food Better Health targets



benefiting over the life of the project.


community health volunteers

supported to share key health and nutrition messages through 300 parent clubs.



supported to produce and sell value-added superfoods.



Top: Caleb’s mother Joana is a PSF. Her new chicken house will serve as an example for her community. Bottom: This new savings group has received training and materials to help them improve their incomes.

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