Ambassador Kathleen Fitzpatrick Remarks at HATUTAN Launch

Bondia, Good Morning

My respects to Her Excellency Minister Dulce de Jesus Soares, Señora Nicole Seibel Chief of Party for the HATUTAN Education and Nutrition Program.

I am honored to join you this morning to launch the Hahán ne’ebé Atu fó Tulun ho Nutrisaun no Edukasaun, (HATUTAN) education and nutrition program. HATUTAN is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole Program, which supports education, child development, and food security with 26 million dollars in funding. The key objective of the McGovern-Dole Program is to reduce hunger, improve literacy and support primary education – especially for girls.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture selected Timor-Leste as a McGovern-Dole Priority Country because of the enormous opportunities to make a positive impact here. This program will improve the lives of Timorese of all ages by supporting children’s health and education. It will also support farmers’ in growing nutritious, sustainable crops for their communities. Based on recent studies, 28 percent of all children in developing countries are underweight or stunted from malnutrition. Malnutrition also impedes children’s development of critical thinking skills which are necessary to compete in today’s world. Timor-Leste is not alone in its fight to reduce malnutrition. Hunger is a problem in many countries – including the United States. The McGovern-Dole Program and its local partners manage 35 programs in 26 countries to bring better nutrition to hungry young minds around the world. The United States is pleased to support the talented HATUTAN team composed of Care International, Mercy Corps, and WaterAid under the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. The HATUTAN team will work to improve childhood nutrition and ensure future generations have access to the nutrition necessary to learn, grow, and flourish. With more than 326,000 Timorese people expected to benefit from the program across 440 schools in Ermera, Liquica, Ainaro, and Manatuto, the HATUTAN Project will also support positive change at the national level. Sustainability is crucial to the HATUTAN program. The Department of Agriculture and program implementers aim to ensure that the communities served by the program can ultimately continue HATUTAN activities long after the program ends. HATUTAN will also collaborate with local farmers to boost the production of local produce so schools can buy local crops and rural farmers can enjoy higher sales revenue.

The United States is a proud supporter of Timor-Leste’s youth and the communities that sustain these young minds. Our efforts do not stop at nutrition, but also include financial and technical assistance to schools, maternal and child nutrition projects – all of which improve children’s ability to learn before they even set foot in a classroom. We are dedicated to combatting malnutrition and stunting in Timor-Leste through HATUTAN’s focus on school feeding, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s various efforts to reduce stunting, USAID’s Community Resilience watershed programs, and many other efforts. The United States is committed to helping Timor-Leste’s youth and their communities lead healthy, prosperous lives and reach their potential as engaged participants in a vibrant, economically diverse democracy.

Thank you all once again for joining us this morning to celebrate the launch of HATUTAN. Your efforts will improve the learning potential of thousands of Timor-Leste’s youth – the best investment of all. It truly takes a village to ensure a healthier and food secure nation.