This operations update formalizes the removal of food, seed distribution and conditional cash (for livelihoods) activities from the plan of action and replaces them with provision of unconditional cash grants for meeting multipurpose needs. This change was the result of continuous assessment of community needs, incorporation of feedback from affected people and local leaders, and challenges relating to securing a tender for food that meets IFRC standards. In addition, this update extends the operation timeframe by four months – until 30 June 2017 – to allow completion of National Society capacity building and disaster risk reduction activities which are underway and were delayed by transition of technical support focal points.
In view of the shift to unconditional cash, a corresponding adjustment has been made within budget lines. However, the overall strategy and budget outlined remains largely unchanged. The original rationale and evidence underpinning this plan of action also remains largely unchanged from the original but has been updated where necessary. Due to the changes, a revision of the plan of action is linked to this update.
A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
The 2015/16 El Niño brought severe drought conditions to parts of. Loss of crop, livestock, a poor rice harvest and diminished seed stock are among the consequences that presented acute problems for the most vulnerable affected households. In Timor-Leste, the authorities sought immediate assistance for the affected population in five districts (Baucau, Cova Lima, Lautem, Oecusse and Viqueque) where the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries estimate that at least 120,000 people were severely affected.
The global El Niño event of 2015/2016 whilst now in neutral phase, affected 60 million people worldwide including in Timor-Leste. In Timor Leste, drought from delayed, intermittent or absent rain seriously affected agricultural yields due to the failure, deterioration and delay of crops. Livestock deaths, food insecurity and water scarcity further compounded poor nutrition in communities as well as seriously affected livelihoods and recovery abilities. Interagency and Government led assessments revealed that up to 120,000 people in five districts were hardest hit.
Affected communities used their usual coping mechanisms including selling of stock and assets, borrowing cash and food, reducing food portions, and consuming seed and food from stores normally reserved for the lean season.
Summary of current response
An allocation of CHF 215,752 from the IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) was made on 15 April 2016 to enable Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste (CVTL) to respond to the humanitarian needs of vulnerable communities affected by the drought. Prior to the DREF allocation, the IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO) deployed a cash and livelihoods coordinator to support CVTL in undertaking an initial assessment and developing a response plan.
An emergency appeal operation was subsequently launched on 18 May 2016, seeking CHF 798,618 to address the needs created by the El Niño-induced drought – by delivering assistance to 20,000 people in the districts of Baucau, Lautem, and Viqueque – and to ensure that CVTL capacity was built in preparation for a possible La Niña event.
Following the comprehensive household-level assessment, CVTL identified 5,508 households (with a total beneficiary number of 28,650) as vulnerable and, therefore, eligible to receive assistance from the National Society.