Agriculture: A FAO multi-disciplinary assessment and planning mission is being planned for early April. The team will comprise an economist, a fishery specialist, an animal production specialist, an agronomist as well as a forestry expert. The objective of this mission is to plan for medium and long-term agricultural programming. It is anticipated that cross-fertilisation will take place between the FAO mission and a mission planned by the World Bank during the same period.
A total of, 25 tractors and 100 power tillers will arrive in East Timor through UNDP - funded by the Government of Norway on 11 March. There will be six mobile brigades operational in the next couple of weeks.
Shelter: The distribution of shelter kits under the UNHCR shelter programme is on-going in 10 of the 13 Districts. A shipment of 1,000 shelter kits was unloaded on 7 March at Com harbour for distribution in Lautem and Baucau Districts by the NGOs IRC and CONCERN. Half of this shipment was originally destined for Dili, however labour disputes at Dili port have prevented any materials from being unloaded in Dili. A barge carrying 1500 shelter kits is currently en route to Suai, for distribution in Covalima District by Timor Aid.
To date, 928 shelter kits have been distributed in Lautem District, 40 in Baucau, 361 in Aileu, 366 in Oecusse, 756 in Liquica, 160 in Manatuto, 74 in Ermera, 58 in Dili, 23 in Manufahi and 87 in Ainaro District. Of the total of 2,918 shelter kits distributed under the UNHCR shelter programme, 360 beneficiaries have completed construction of their shelters.
Under the CARE shelter programme a total 631 shelters have been completed in Covalima District. Under its shelter programme, the ICRC has completed a total of 1,122 shelters in Ermera, Liquica, Aileu and Dili Districts. World Vision is planning to commence its shelter programme at the end of March. The NGO has already pre-positioned some 550 shelter kits for distribution in Bobonaro sub-district and Lolotoi sub-district and 600 shelter kits in Letefoho in Ermera District. The objective is to assist the population with the construction of some 9,000 shelters by the end of June.
Health: The WHO Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin report compiles information from across the territory. For week eight covering 20-26 of February, a total of 4,960 consultations had been reported. These represent the work of 28 health facilities (including mobile clinics), run by 12 health agencies. Reports were received from only six of the 13 Districts in East Timor. As usual in recent weeks, upper respiratory tract infection was the commonest infectious disease reported. Other diseases included suspected malaria and other acute febrile illnesses, lower respiratory tract infection, simple diarrhoea and diarrhoea with blood. Measles continues to be reported from Ainaro (one case) and Bobonaro (five cases), as well as Dili (one case), but no cases were reported from Ermera for week eight. Sporadic cases of acute jaundice syndrome were again reported (two from Ainaro and one each from Covalima and Dili.) There were no reports of acute flaccid paralysis, suspected meningitis or neonatal tetanus.
Initial results from a seroprevalence study recently conducted in pigs and chickens in Dili have found the following results: The serum from 20 pigs aged 4-8 months and 20 chickens was collected and tested as part of an Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) and Australian Defense Force (ADF) collaboration. Initial results suggest that none of the animals carried antibodies to the Japanese encephalitis virus, nor to the Murray Valley Encephalitis or Kunjin viruses.
None of the diseases caused by these viruses have been reported during the past five months in East Timor. Both can cause asymptomatic infection. The negative results are encouraging, although the sample of animals tested was small.
In Oecusse, OXFAM is distributing 2,000 mosquito nets to Padiae, which arrived recently. A further 3,000 nets are expected. OXFAM continues to provide instruction on preventive health care in Oecusse. The International Medical Corps (IMC) will receive two additional staff members, both midwives in mid March to work at the Oecusse Hospital.