Timor Leste: Drought Emergency Appeal (MDRTP004) Operation update n° 3


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

This report summarises the progress made in the last six months since the start of the operation. The drought has seriously affected the lives of the people and the country’s agricultural yields. Livestock deaths, food insecurity and water scarcity has further compounded poor nutrition and health outcomes in communities as well as seriously affecting livelihoods and recovery abilities1. According to the Interagency and Government led assessments, up to 120,000 people in five districts have been severely affected.

Affected communities have been using their regular coping mechanism including selling of livestock and assets, borrowing cash and food, reducing food portions, consuming seed and food from stores for the lean season and finding new water sources. This coping mechanism is commonly seen during the lean and wet season in November to March.

Recent assessments by the CVTL teams suggested that food security and livelihoods recovery continue to be a primary concern. The reported likelihood of a pending La Nina and resulting increase in seasonal rainfall still requires confirmation and this may benefit some communities although the risk of additional hazards including flood andlandslide remains a concern.2 Many vulnerable communities may continue to struggle through their annual lean season due to the earlier El Nino and drought. Based on the experience from previous droughts, the recovery of some communities can take up to two years.3

Summary of current response

On 15 April 2016, CHF 215,752 was allocated via the IFRC’s DREF to enable Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste (CVTL) to respond to the initial needs of most affected communities. Following the household assessments conducted by CVTL, an emergency appeal of CHF 798,618 was launched on 18 May to scale up the operation to assist 20,000 people in the districts of Baucau, Lautem, and Viqueque.

Initial relief activities undertaken by CVTL include distribution of 5,776 water containers in 8 communities and 224,080 litres of water in 5 communities. Health promotion conducted by branch volunteers reached 7,034 individuals across 17 communities and nutrition messaging and advice were provided to 1,356 pregnant and nursing women identified during assessments as a vulnerable group. Seven schools in the affected areas have had water catchment systems and storage tanks installed to provide water for household and school use, benefitting up to 762 households.

On 23 September, the appeal was revised to increase the target households from 4,000 to 5,500 and to focus more on targeted food distribution, strengthening livelihoods with seed distribution and an integration of health and nutrition activities. This strategy was designed to prepare communities and improve resilience in preparation for the traditional lean season expected during November to March every year.

A tender was launched in September for the purchase of the food and seeds required for the planned distribution. The proposed lead time from suppliers was deemed too long and rejected by the operation team. To resolve and continue to meet the targeted needs, CVTL strategized to broaden the cash transfer programme (CTP). This was supported by a recent livelihoods assessment and community consultation supported by the IFRC livelihoods advisor. The first cash distribution is planned to commence on 19 October.

Institutionally CVTL continue to strengthen their internal cooperation and planning activities to enable them to manage competing priorities. Efforts to integrate drought mitigation and recovery activities with development programming in the Integrated Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (ICBRR) are also ongoing. Readiness activities for the rainy season have commenced with the requisition of relief supplies from IFRC Regional Logistics Unit in Kuala Lumpur for 300 families. These are to be pre-positioned in CVTL branches in each of the three drought affected districts in preparation for the pending wet season. Branch Disaster Response Teams (BDRT) will undergo refresher training in Viqueque during October.