School Gardens for Nutrition

Through our School Garden for Nutrition project, 25 teachers and 509 students in Timor-Leste are learning how to grow vegetables for use in school lunches.

It starts at school

Timor-Leste has some of the worst rates of malnutrition and child stunting in the world. According to a 2016 government health survey, 50 per cent of children under five are stunted.

By working with two primary schools in Bobonaro District, we’re helping to address malnutrition and food insecurity in rural areas.

With support from our local partners, Timor Aid and HIAM Health, the schools have established kitchen gardens that supply fresh produce for daily lunches.

Students are learning important horticultural skills such as soil management, composting, and irrigation through weekly, hands-on training sessions built in to their school curriculum.


Arcanjo in the gardens participating in soil management training

Arcanjo is one of the project’s most active and enthusiastic participants.

“I was very happy when I joined this project because I can use this in school and also in my family,” he said. “My parents are very happy and encourage me to be diligent in learning about gardening and the nutrients in the vegetables.”

Overcoming challenges

When drought struck Bobonaro, lack of access to water soon became a serious challenge. Even the school bathrooms and toilets had no water. Mothers who came to cook for their children at lunch time had to bring water from home.


Children and teachers holding water pipe

We helped the schools purchase 100m of pipe to connect them with a government water supply to address this issue. Police, local government, teachers, and students all lent a hand to dig the trenches and cover the pipe to keep it safe from damage.

“Now the school will be able to run smoothly again with reliable access to water,” said the school director.

The next step

The students are now looking forward to learning about food hygiene and food preparation through cooking classes. With this training, students will soon be able to prepare their own meals, fresh from garden to table!

Donate now to help more Timorese communities escape hunger and malnutrition.


Sustainable Development Goals

1. No Poverty     10. Reduced Inequalities

17. Partnerships for the Goals


This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).


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