Timor-Leste: El Niño Impact, UN Resident Coordinator's Office Situation Report No. 3 (as of 2 September 2016)



  • In the aftermath of the 2015 to 2016 El Niño-induced drought, 120,000 people remain severely affected in Lautém, Viqueue, Baucau and Covalima municipalities and Oe-Cusse Special Economic Zone.

  • Food, water and sanitation, health, nutrition, livelihood and education support are priority needs.

  • Rainfall levels remain below historical annual average. Erratic weather has resulted in a significant decrease of cereal production which may further strain the food security and coping capacities of already vulnerable rural households.

  • The Government of Timor-Leste continues to coordinate the El Niño response to address the food security situation. Humanitarian partners are providing targeted support to the local response.

  • The Emergency Relief Coordinator allocated US$$846,700 from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to enable partners to respond to the nutrition needs of nearly 21,000 people.

400,000 Affected people

120,000 Severely affected people

258,000 Tonnes (annual cereal needs)

70,080 Tonnes (projected 2016 cereal production)

Situation Overview

In the aftermath of the 2015 to 2016 El Niño-induced drought, 120,000 people across the municipalities of Lautém, Viqueue, Baucau and Covalima and the Oe-Cusse Special Economic Zone continue to need food, water and sanitation, health, nutrition, livelihood and education support.

Since the beginning of 2016, the amount of rainfall remains below the long term annual average according to historical data from FAO. During the past four months, inland mountainous areas received more rain than the coastal areas on the north, east and south of Timor-Leste and Oe-Cusse. The varied weather condition has resulted in pockets of remaining needs in remote areas which are difficult to access and continues to constrain recovery efforts.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries recorded more than 70.000 animal deaths between November 2015 and March 2016 amounting to a total loss of around $13 million. WFP and FAO also reported that irregular rainfall has resulted in the reduction of maize and rice yields. Ongoing dry weather conditions in some areas is a concern as it may significant impact the planting of secondary season crops.

Between 2011 and 2015, the annual cereal production in Timor-Leste was 162,000 tonnes – the production level in 2015 decreased to 129,000 tonnes. In 2016, it is projected that the production will further decrease to 70,080 tonnes. With the annual cereal needs of 258,100, a gap of 188,000 tones is expected this year.

With the significant gap in cereal production for two consecutive years, the ongoing drought is putting critical pressure on the limited resources of rural households. On a regular year, the coping capacities of communities are already severely stretched, with very high incidences of malnutrition reported (50 per cent of stunted children under age-5 and the 27 per cent of underweight women).

According to World Meteorological Organization, there is a probability (50 to 65 per cent) that a weak La Niña event may develop in the third quarter of 2016. La Niña generally has the opposite weather effects to El Niño – areas that experienced drought are at risk of higher rainfall. If a La Niña event affects Timor-Leste in the coming months, communities recovering from El Niño will remain at heightened risk.