United States Government to Provide Estimated $26 Million in Support of Education and Nutrition in Timor-Leste

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United States Government to Provide Estimated $26 Million in Support of Education and Nutrition in Timor-Leste

 The United States Government through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) selected Timor-Leste as one of eight countries to receive funding this year from the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. After a highly competitive review process, global humanitarian organization CARE International will conduct the McGovern-Dole Program through its HATUTAN Project (Hahán ne’ebé Atu fó Tulun ho Nutrisaun no Edukasaun – Continue and Support Food for Nutrition and Education). The five-year project, with an estimated value of $26 million, will work with the Government of Timor-Leste and local organizations to improve education, nutrition, and health in 440 schools and surrounding communities throughout four of Timor-Leste’s most disadvantaged municipalities (Ermera, Liquica, Ainaro and Manatuto).  A key component of HATUTAN focuses on working with rural farmers to boost the production of local produce, thereby increasing rural farmer incomes, and creating sustainable nutritious food sources for local schools. Commodities, which comprise just 8.5 percent of the total program, will be strategically targeted to meet current nutritional priorities in public schools. HATUTAN will also support local farmers to increase their access to critical farming inputs, training support, and financial services that are climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive. With more than 326,000 Timorese people expected to benefit from the program, the HATUTAN Project will also support positive change at the national level.

“The United States welcomes Timor-Leste’s and CARE International’s participation in the McGovern-Dole Program,” said U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick. “We look forward to working with all of our partners to supplement and strengthen – not replace – the Government of Timor-Leste’s efforts to support education and nutrition,” she added. CARE International will serve as lead agency on the project, with sub-agreement partnerships with Mercy Corps and Water Aid. The HATUTAN Project will work in partnership with key ministries of the Government of Timor-Leste at the national, municipal, and school level. This includes significant cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The McGovern-Dole Program – named in honor of Ambassador and former U.S. Senator George McGovern and former U.S. Senator Robert Dole in recognition of their tireless efforts to eradicate childhood hunger – helps support education, child development, and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries around the globe. The program provides for the donation of U.S. agricultural commodities, as well as financial and technical assistance, to support school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects. The USDA currently has active McGovern-Dole projects in 25 countries.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) listed Timor-Leste as a McGovern-Dole Priority Country in January 2018, making the country eligible for the program for the first time. FAS selects priority countries each year based on factors such as per-capita income and rates of literacy and malnutrition. The USDA issued a request for local and international NGOs in Timor-Leste to submit applications. Proposals from Timor-Leste competed with those from other countries and after evaluation by an impartial committee in Washington, USDA selected CARE International’s project in Timor-Leste. Other approved proposals this year are from organizations in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Sri Lanka. The key objective of the McGovern-Dole Program is to reduce hunger and improve literacy and primary education, especially for girls. By supporting education and nutrition, teacher training and related support, McGovern-Dole projects help boost school enrollment and academic performance. At the same time, the program also focuses on improving children’s health and learning capacity before they enter school by offering nutrition programs for pregnant and nursing women, infants, and preschoolers. McGovern-Dole projects can involve many other resources and activities such as school materials and teacher training; water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions; or capacity building for training on proper food preparation.

Additional information about the McGovern-Dole Program is available online at https://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/mcgovern-dole-food-education-program.