Collective action to improve nutrition in Timor-Leste

Hamutuk is an innovative, multi-sector program bringing more than 20 organisations together to improve nutrition in Timor-Leste.

Through coordination and collaborative technologies, Hamutuk leverages the work of many sectors to address the immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition. Together with partners, our efforts have focused on a shared goal of reducing the prevalence of stunting in children under two.

On average, kids who are stunted complete 4.6 fewer grades in school than kids who aren’t.

Adults who were stunted as kids earn 21% less in adult wages than kids who weren’t.

Stunted kids face increased risk of developing chronic diseases, such as hypertension or diabetes, later in life.

Stunting is the outcome of chronic nutritional deficiency over time, causing irreversible damage to a child’s development. It’s visible when a child’s height is too low for their age. It often starts before birth and is perpetuated by poor food quality, inadequate child feeding practices, frequent infections and poor maternal health and nutrition.

In Timor-Leste, despite improvements, malnutrition remains widespread in rural and urban communities and across a range of household incomes. Nationally, around 46% of children under five are stunted — one of the highest rates in the world.

Around 50% of children under five are stunted

Preventing stunting has inter-generational human, social, and economic benefits for individuals, households and the nation. But to make a sustained impact for healthy future generations, we need to work better together. Evidence tells us we need to boost efforts in multiple sectors—including water, sanitation, education, family planning, agriculture, dietary diversity, child feeding and social inclusion.

Hamutuk Illustration

A framework for multi-sector collaboration

Coordination

Capacity building

Hamutuk works closely with the Government of Timor-Leste to promote concerted efforts to improve nutrition. This includes the creation of the Hamutuk nutrition resource library, the promotion of government nutrition messages among partners, and supporting the government’s monitoring and evaluation efforts. Partners also receive training and support for multi-sector nutrition activities to aid coordination across sectors.

Collaborative technology

Collaborative technology

Hamutuk’s mobile app and online platform are designed to help partners communicate, collect data, and access shared information. The online platform provides a shared dashboard for partners to view their contributions to shared goals. The app supports community-based partners at routine household visits and community events, enabling them to register household profiles, report outcomes, and share nutrition information with Hamutuk families.

Behaviour change

Behaviour change

The Hamutuk app enables partners to share information with communities, including a combination of information cards, videos, and questions. The content amplifies existing evidence-based behaviour change messages from the government and partners. The aim is to nudge people toward behaviours proven to improve nutrition outcomes, such as washing hands with soap, growing nutritious foods, and breastfeeding infant children until the age of two.

Continuous evaluation

Targeted messaging

Using the app, our partners can collaboratively record information from communities that helps us learn about their specific needs. We can then develop future content tailored to these needs, such as information on breastfeeding for households with infants, and adapt to national and municipal governments’ latest nutrition priorities.

Hamutuk partners

The Government of Timor-Leste

F.A.S

WaterAid

Cooperativa Café Timor

Marie Stopes

RHTO

Our objectives

  • Increasing collaboration and coordination between partners in fields relevant to nutrition
  • Improving nutrition-related behaviours at the household and community level
  • Working closely with the Government of Timor-Leste for a sustained reduction in the prevalence of stunting

Where we’re working

We're currently focusing our multi-sector initiative on Manufahi, a mountainous municipality with many geographically isolated hamlets and a large overlap of projects that can help improve nutrition. Our behaviour change initiatives are being piloted in the sub-district of Holarua.


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