Issue 15
Monday, 29 August 2016
Charles Darwin University
Gianna Bonis-Profumo will attend the Crawford Fund 2016 annual conference
Gianna Bonis-Profumo will attend the Crawford Fund 2016 annual conference

Scholarship to support nutrition research in Timor

By Leanne Miles

A Charles Darwin University student passionate about the health and nutrition of women and children in Timor-Leste has been awarded a Crawford Fund scholarship.

Gianna Bonis-Profumo received the scholarship available for young Australian agricultural scientists to attend the Crawford Fund 2016 annual conference “Waste not, want not: the circular economy to food security” in Canberra this week.

“One in nine people in the world don't have enough to eat every day, and most of these are small-scale farmers,” Gianna said. “In these contexts, women are generally involved in agricultural work while also managing the nutrition within the households, so supporting them can have the most impact on decreasing malnutrition rates.”

Gianna, who is a PhD candidate with the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, is a development practitioner in food security and nutrition, and currently is researching food security, malnutrition and gender in Timor-Leste.

“Timor-Leste is a very close neighbour to Australia, yet it has the third highest child chronic malnutrition rate in the world,” she said. “I am also interested in working in a post-conflict agriculture-based country that is consolidating its nation-state building after a hard history of political struggle.”

She said malnutrition during the first two years of life had irreversible consequences for a child's physical and cognitive development.

“In Timor one in two children is chronically malnourished, compromising the current and future progress of this young and proud nation.”

She said women were key.

“I aim to investigate whether the degree of women’s empowerment influences the effectivity of nutrition-sensitive agricultural and livestock programs in supporting dietary outcomes for children.

Gianna said the opportunity to attend the Crawford Fund conference would further her experience as a gender specialist in agriculture and nutrition.

The conference will be held from 29 to 31 August in Canberra.