Timor-Leste: Disaster Management Reference Handbook 2016


Executive Summary

Timor-Leste is located in the southern-most part of Southeast Asia on the eastern half of the island of the Timor Sea between Indonesia and Australia. Timor-Leste has a population of approximately 1.1 million people. In May 2002, Timor-Leste gained independence from Indonesia. Prior to independence, United Nations (UN) peace-keeping forces were installed in Timor-Leste in late 1999 (following the referendum for independence) to stop the ensuing violence, and establish a national government. In 2006, the country su ered large-scale internal con ict, which led to the displacement of 150,000 people. is resulted in the deployment of an International Stabilization Force (ISF). In 2012, the peaceful transition of government resulted in withdrawing of the ISF and the UN forces, with security transferred to local law-enforcement bodies.

Despite its troubled political past, Timor-Leste’s economy continues to grow rapidly. Off shore gas reserves have increased state income, and government spending is starting to contribute to poverty reduction and improved social outcomes. However, food insecurity remains widespread throughout Timor-Leste. ough the majority of the population works in subsistence agriculture, agricultural productivity is low and Timor-Leste depends on food imports. High inflation rates, partly caused by the large oil-exports, make access to food and services increasingly di cult. Malnutrition among children is a widespread health concern with health services in Timor-Leste characterized by weak infrastructure and low human resource capacity. Conflict and hunger are strongly associated in Timor-Leste because they have recently emerged from conflict. is association is common for countries with the lowest level of food security.

Timor-Leste is prone to severe and recurrent drought, flooding and landslides. Tropical cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis also represent risks. Landslides and ash oods are the most common natural hazards in Timor-Leste, disrupting the land transport system by destroying bridges and washing out roads. Drought can be a problem during the dry season, exacerbating the country’s food security problem. Additionally, Timor-Leste is near the intersection of three continental plates, making it vulnerable to major earthquakes. Timor-Leste’s vulnerability to natural hazards means if particular care is not taken in the development of the country’s infrastructure, it will remain at risk to disruption. In November 2011, the UN mission in Timor-Leste reported the country had su ered 470 disaster events over the previous ten years. While Timor-Leste has a medium exposure to hazards, its lack of coping and adaptive strategies makes it the 7th most disaster prone country in the world.

Timor-Leste is presently a low income country, but aims to be an upper-middle income country by 2030. The plans for Timor-Leste’s economic development are laid out in the 2011-2030 Strategic Development Plan. Timor-Leste is in the development stages of its disaster management program. Timor-Leste developed the 2008 National Disaster Risk Management Policy, which lays out the government’s vison of its disaster management process from the national to the village level. Additionally, through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), they have conducted national hazards, vulnerability and risk assessments. rough Plan International they have initiated the integration of disaster management education into public schools. Although the Government of Timor-Leste considers DRM as a priority and supports the dissemination of DRM policy to the district levels, the current Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030 of Timor-Leste has not explicitly re ected nor integrated DRM as one of its development priorities. Disaster Management is included in the Strategic Plan Document of MSS 2009-2012.

The U.S. has a large bilateral development assistance program and is also a major donor member to a number of multilateral agencies active in Timor-Leste such as the United Nations, Asian Development Bank, and World Bank. U.S. assistance focuses on bolstering stability by strengthening the foundations of good governance, accelerating economic growth thus creating jobs for the rapidly growing population, improving the health of the Timorese people, and supporting the professionalization of the Timorese security forces.