Floods - Timor-Leste

Above: AHP partners attending a briefing at the Secretariat of Civil Protection.

Above: AHP partners attending a briefing at the Secretariat of Civil Protection.

Timor-Leste was hit with heavy rains in late March to early April 2021, resulting in flash flooding across the country. The floods occurred at the same time as a surge of COVID-19 cases, complicating the response.

According to the UN Resident Coordinator’s situation report after the floods, all 13 municipalities were affected, with 4,384 houses destroyed or damaged. The capital Dili was particularly hard-hit, with a total of 43 evacuation centres in the city hosting 12,378 people in the immediate aftermath. 46 fatalities were recorded.  

Strict COVID-19 lockdowns that had been in place in Dili municipality were temporarily suspended in view of the ongoing flood response. The risk of further spread of COVID-19 remains high, with people living in evacuation centres or without access to safe water or hygiene.

The Government of Timor-Leste requested urgent support after the floods, in particular with the dissemination of health messages and the distribution of supplies.

The AHP response

Above: World Vision Timor-Leste is one of the AHP partners supporting those displaced by the floods and living in evacuation centres.

The 2021 flood response was the second AHP activation for flooding in Timor-Leste, after an AU $500,000 response in March 2020 to a similar, but smaller, flooding event.

In line with the Government of Timor-Leste’s priorities, the AHP response to the 2021 floods is focusing on emergency support for communities on food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as provision of other essential personal items for those displaced by the floods. The response also has a strong focus on COVID-19 community education.

The flood response in Timor-Leste is being led by CARE Australia, in consortium with CAN DO, Oxfam, Plan Australia, World Vision Australia and their in-country partners. Total funding for the response from the Australian Government is AU $2 million, and the response will run until April 2022. The response builds on existing partnerships forged as part of the AHP’s Disaster READY program.

The AHP consortium is working closely with the Secretariat of Civil Protection, supporting its operations, focusing on enhancing social inclusion for vulnerable groups and assisting in the distribution of relief supplies.

Response highlights

  • Rapid assessments identified that people in evacuation centres and affected households urgently required basic supplies, including shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, food and other items such as education materials for children. AHP partners have worked with the Secretariat of Civil Protection to deliver these items to evacuation centres and affected communities.

  • Social and behaviour change communications materials are being distributed to households, evacuation centres, schools and health posts to improve knowledge of good hygiene practices and COVID-19 prevention. This work includes information to increase knowledge on COVID-19 vaccinations, to combat misinformation and hesitancy. These messages are also being disseminated through national and local media outlets, and via church platforms.

  • The AHP consortium’s support for the Secretariat of Civil Protection has included training on social inclusion, as well as technical expertise on data collection.