MANILA, PHILIPPINES (22 June 2020) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $1 million grant to support the Government of Timor-Leste’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, including providing urgent food assistance to vulnerable households. The grant will be financed by the Government of Japan through the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund.

The grant will be used to purchase and distribute food sourced from local shops and farmers unable to sell their products due to emergency restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus. It will also help the government address food insecurity, which affects 75% of the population, and stunting, which affects 50% of children under 5 years of age. The situation has worsened amid the pandemic, as the poor and vulnerable are hit with income loss and lack of access to food. The slowdown in international shipping has reduced rice imports and disrupted local food supply chains. 

“ADB is committed to supporting Timor-Leste in the fight to control COVID-19,” said ADB Senior Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist for Southeast Asia Stefania Dina. “The grant will help prevent childhood stunting and ensure food and nutrition security for Timor-Leste’s most vulnerable households, boost their immune systems, and slow down the spread of COVID-19. It will also provide an economic boost to local micro and small-sized enterprises.”

As of 19 June, Timor-Leste had confirmed 24 COVID-19 cases but no deaths. The government declared a state of emergency in March and extended it to 26 June. With a limited health system and high levels of poverty and food insecurity, the country remains vulnerable—a situation exacerbated by recent floods.

The new grant builds on ADB’s previous COVID-19 assistance to Timor-Leste, including support for the purchase of medical supplies through a $1.3 million technical assistance, Regional Support to Address the Outbreak of Novel Coronavirus.

On 13 April, ADB announced a $20 billion package to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries as they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. ADB also approved measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible delivery of assistance. Visit ADB’s website to learn more about the bank’s ongoing response.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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