Timor-Leste: Flash Floods - Mar 2021

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Past disaster
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Disaster description

From 29 March to 4 April, heavy rains across the country have caused flash floods and landslides. A total of 8 municipalities were affected, with the capital Dili and the surrounding low-lying areas the worst affected. According to the latest official figures (7 April) from the Secretariat of State for Civil Protection, a total of 2,375 households – or 9,779 people – are in the 18 official evacuation facilities in Dili. There are many more displaced – including many women and children - in informal evacuation sites across the city. To date, a total of 42 fatalities (including 13 who are still missing and presumed dead) have been recorded. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 7 Apr 2021)

On 8 April, the Government of Timor-Leste declared a state of calamity in Dili for a period of 30 days and requested for international assistance to the flood response. According to the latest official figures (9 April) from the Secretariat of State for Civil Protection, a total of 2,315 households – or 13,554 people – have been temporarily displaced by the floods. The displaced are in the 40 evacuation facilities across Dili and in the communities. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 9 Apr 2021)

According to the latest official figures (14 April) from the Ministry of State Administration, which leads the Task Force for Civil Protection and Natural Disaster Management, a total of 25,709 households have reportedly been affected by the floods across all 13 municipalities. Of whom, 45% - or 11,558 households – are in Dili municipality. According to the same report, 4,546 houses across all municipalities have reportedly been destroyed or damaged. According to the latest figures from the Secretariat of State for Civil Protection, currently there are 8,852 temporary displaced persons in 29 evacuation facilities across Dili, the worst-affected municipality. To date, a total of 45 fatalities (including 10 who are still missing and presumed dead) have been recorded. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 15 Apr 2021)

According to the latest official figures (21 April) from the Ministry of State Administration, which leads the Task Force for Civil Protection and Natural Disaster Management, a total of 28,734 households have reportedly been affected by the floods across all 13 municipalities. Of whom, 90% - or 25,881 households – are in Dili municipality. The same report cites that currently there are 6,029 temporary displaced persons in 30 evacuation facilities across Dili, the worst-affected municipality. 4,546 houses across all municipalities have reportedly been destroyed or damaged. According to the preliminary assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries conducted in 9 municipalities to date, a total of 1,820 ha of rice crops and 190 ha of maize crops have been affected by the flooding. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 21 Apr 2021)

The latest official figures (28 April) showed that a total of 31,337 households have been affected across all 13 municipalities; of those, 83% – or 25,928 households – are in Dili municipality. A total of 2,163 hectares of agricultural areas have been affected by the flooding, which would negatively impact food security during the next lean season. The latest official figures indicate a total of 25 evacuation facilities in Dili municipality, where 3,925 people – or 799 households – are temporarily sheltered. Majority of the temporary displaced are returning home, and there is need to support the affected people’s safe return to the communities. Health and WASH-related concerns were raised this week when two children died of suspected diarrhea and acute respiratory infection (ARI) in the flood-affected community of Masilidun in Tasi Tolu on 27 and 28 April. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 28 Apr 2021)

According to official figures (4 May), a total of 33,177 households across the country have been affected; of those, 81% – or 27,622 households – are in Dili municipality. A total of 41 fatalities (including 9 missing, presumed dead) have been recorded. A total of 2,163 hectares of agricultural areas have been affected by the flooding. The latest official figures indicate a total of 17 evacuation facilities in Dili municipality, where 3,012 people – or 611 households – are temporarily sheltered; this is 913 people less compared to one week ago. The preliminary findings of the Multi-Sectoral Rapid Needs Assessment and the Household Damage and Needs Assessment suggest that more than 550 residential houses have been completely destroyed, about 900 badly damaged, and another 1,900 sustained minor damages in Dili municipality. On 4 May, the President promulgated the amendment of the 2021 General State Budget, with an increased allocation to the Contingency Fund from USD 23.8 million to USD 65.2 million. In solidarity with the Government, the humanitarian partners have provided relief assistance worth over USD 10.7 million to date. Following the renewal of the State of Emergency, the Government also reinstated the general home confinement in Dili municipality until 13 May, and extended the sanitary fence around Dili municipality, as well as around municipalities of Ainaro, Baucau, Covalima, Ermera, Lautem, Liquica, Manufahi and Viqueque, until 16 May. As of 6 May, there are 1,315 active cases of COVID-19. The risk of further spread of COVID-19 remains high. Under the national COVID-19 vaccination programme – launched on 7 April – a total of 28,598 doses have been administered across all municipalities to date. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 6 May 2021)

According to official figures, a total of 33,835 households across the country have been affected; of those, 81.6% – or 27,622 households – are in Dili municipality. A total of 2,163 hectares of agricultural areas have been affected by the flooding, which would negatively impact food security during the next lean season. The latest official figures compiled by the Secretariat of State for Civil Protection, there remain a total of 13 evacuation centers in Dili municipality, where 1,743 people – or 394 households – are temporarily sheltered. This is 1,269 people less compared to two weeks ago, and it accounts for 11% of the total number of people in evacuation centers during the peak (8 April). Majority of the temporarily displaced have returned home, and the Government and humanitarian partners are supporting their safe return to the communities. As of 20 May, there are 2,398 active cases of COVID-19, including amongst the temporarily displaced. The risk of further spread of COVID-19 remains high, particularly amongst the temporarily displaced. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 22 May 2021)

On 1 June, Government of Timor-Leste, together with humanitarian partners, officially launched a joint appeal to address the residual humanitarian needs for the most vulnerable affected people and assist with early-recovery efforts in Timor-Leste. The appeal requests US$32.7 million (US $8.8m for immediate needs and US$23.9 for short-term requirements) that will directly assist 65,000 people and indirectly benefit all flood-affected population. The Government has allocated US$65.2 million through the Contingency Fund while the humanitarian partners including the United Nations, have so far committed US$10.7 million to support the response efforts. However, following the rapid assessments that have been completed, critical funding gaps still remain to meet the priority needs of the flood-affected communities and to kick-start the recovery process. The 2021 Timor-Leste Floods Response Plan will facilitate a coordinated by the Government and the humanitarian partners focusing on the next 7 months from end-May to end-December 2021 with the aim of supporting a sustainable recovery and helping lay the foundations for ‘Building Back Better’. (Govt., of Timor-Leste & UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 1 Jun 2021)

Rice and maize production was severely affected by the floods, landslides and strong winds, which completely destroyed some rice fields. Manatuto municipality was the most affected, particularly Laclo and Manatuto post-administratives. Irrigated agricultural land near rivers was washed away and irrigation infrastructures sustained extensive damages. A Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) assessment identified 90 sucos where such infrastructure was damaged, with infrastructure in Baucau municipality critically affected and that in Viqueque, Bobonaro, Aileu and RAEOA moderately damaged. If the damage remains unrepaired, 2 800 ha of rice will be left unirrigated or insufficiently irrigated, leading to losses of 60 percent of the yield worth USD 1.5 million annually. The floods have worsened the situation for marginal farming households who had already lost significant assets and income as a result of multiple shocks. Vulnerable households also lack mechanization and have limited access to inputs and markets, restricting their ability to recover. (FAO, 16 Jun 2021)

According to latest official figures, as of 15th of July, a total of 30,322 households across the country have been affected; of those, 82% - or 24,816 households – are in Dili municipality. A total of 4,212 houses were damaged throughout the country. There are 6 evacuation centres in Dili municipality, where 731 people – or 140 households – are temporarily sheltered. This accounts for 6% of the total number of people in evacuation centres at peak (recorded on 8 th of April). The majority of the temporarily displaced have returned home, and the Government and humanitarian partners are continuing to support their safe return to their communities. On 30th of June, the President of Timor-Leste renewed the State of Emergency covering the entire national territory. (UN RC/HC Timor-Leste, 16 July 2021)

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