Collective action to improve nutrition in Timor-Leste

Hamutuk is an innovative, multi-sector program bringing more than 20 organisations together with one goal: to reduce the prevalence of stunting in children under two.

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.

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.

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

Capacity building

Capacity building

We’re working together with our partners in diverse fields to build understanding of nutrition. Our goal is to encourage collaboration, strengthen their ability to tackle stunting, and help partners share information with communities that isn’t traditionally part of their sector.

Collaborative technology

Collaborative technology

Hamutuk’s mobile app and online platform are designed to help partners communicate, collect data and access shared information. The app guides our many community-based partners through registering and interacting with Hamutuk families, while the online platform provides a shared dashboard.

Behaviour change

Behaviour change

We’re exploring creative ways to share information via our mobile app and nudge families toward behaviours that improve nutrition. These include washing hands with soap, growing nutritious foods and keeping girls in school for longer. Our approach is grounded in research and evidence.

Targeted messaging

Targeted messaging

Using the app, our partners collect information from families that helps us learn about their needs. Our software can then identify the best messages to share, such as a video about breastfeeding if infants are around. We’re also exploring the use of machine learning in future to better understand what works in changing behaviours, and recommend similar content for families with similar characteristics.

Hamutuk partners

The Government of Timor-Leste



Cooperativa Café Timor

Marie Stopes


  • Government Partners
  • Manufahi - Municipal Administration
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Public Works
  • Ministry of Social Solidarity
  • National Council for Food Security, Sovereignty and Nutrition in Timor-Leste (KONSSANTIL)
  • Non-Governmental Organisations
  • Alola Foundation
  • Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT)
  • Feto Asaun ba Sustentabilidade (FAS)
  • Health Alliance International (HAI)
  • Luta ba Mudansa (LBM)
  • Luta ba Futuru (LBF)
  • Grupu Klibur Feto Malu (GKFM)
  • Non-Governmental Organisations
  • Marie Stopes International
  • Mercy Corps
  • Ra'es Hadomi Timor Oan (RHTO)
  • TOMAK - Farming for Prosperity
  • World Fish
  • WaterAid

Our objectives

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

Where we’re working

We’re getting started on our multi-sector initiative in Holarua, Manufahi, a mountainous village with many geographically isolated hamlets and a large overlap of projects that can help improve nutrition.

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