ACAPS Briefing Note: Timor-Leste - Drought (3 May 2017)


The food security crisis is expected to escalate at the start of the dry season in July.

Anticipated scope and scale

Timor-Leste has been experiencing a severe drought due to the El Niño phenomenon since the end of 2015. The latest rainy season, which takes place from November 2016 to May 2017, has been insufficient and erratic, maintaining drought conditions on most of the island. In the next three months, rains are expected to remain insufficient with the onset of the dry season in June.

Food security continued deteriorating in the November–February lean season. With the start of the dry season in June, expectations of a poor harvest make it likely that people will continue to rely on livestock for food. Food intake reduction and a lack of diet diversity is likely to escalate malnutrition rates.

National and international response is underway, but the government has not declared an emergency

Priorities for humanitarian intervention

  • Food: Crop losses are likely to result from below-average harvests due to insufficient rains. Livestock resources are already strained as people rely on them during the lean season, and this is likely to continue as a coping mechanism in the upcoming dry season. Food insecurity is likely to increase.

  • WASH: Water shortages are likely to escalate during the dry season, and people will have to resort to using unsafe water sources. This is compounded by poor sanitation facilities, which is likely to accelerate the spread of diseases.

Priority groups or areas

  • Eastern and southern coastal areas were most affected during the 2015/2016 drought, and registered escalating levels of food insecurity due to crop and livestock losses.

  • Humanitarian constraints Poor road conditions hamper aid delivery.