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Timor-Leste: El Niño Impact, UN Resident Coordinator's Office Situation Report No. 2 (as of 29 April 2016)

UN RC/HC Timor-Leste
Publication date


  • Based on recent assessment results, 4 municipalities and 1 Special Economic Zone (ZEESM) have been identified as worst affected by El Niño: Covalima, Lautem, Viqueque, Baucau, and Oe-cusse. 120,000 people are severely affected in these locations, where the total population is 400,000 people.
  • On 12 April, the Council of Ministers (CoM) was last updated on the impacts caused by the climatic phenomenon by the Minister of Interior, who coordinates the in-country response and facilitates exchange of information.
  • The Government has identified 6-7 warehouses in the most affected areas, which will be stocked with food supplies through a coordinated approach by 10 Government Ministries, led by Ministry of Interior.
  • After the last HCT meeting on 1 April 2016, the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior and the HCT, has developed an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to outline the problems, possible response interventions and timeframe for action. Overall funding requirement for the response is estimated at USD 25 million.

Situation Overview

In early April, especially north coast locations such as Oe-cusse and Atauro received very little rain. Some good rains were received along the south coast. This may enable more maize planting in the south of the country. It is likely that the total planting area of rice will be less than normal. A number of farmers still have not started cultivating their land.

In March, the rainfall pattern brought sufficient rainfall in the mountains but insufficient or patchy rainfall along the coast. Oe-cusse and Viqueque received very low rainfall with only 42% and 50% respectively of average March rainfall. In Viqueque, rice fields had only been established in one administrative post by end of March.

FAO satellite images show coastal areas’ poor vegetation conditions in March 2016, where VHI values were between 0.15 and 0.55 in worst affected areas. VHI values for April Dekad 1 are comparatively lower across the country, with lowest values in Viqueque, Baucau, Covalima, Lautem, Oe-cusse due to a continued stress caused by drought in these coastal areas.

The situation causes continued dependence by the rural population on coping mechanisms. This includes eating less, changing primary water sources, selling assets and/or borrowing money. The use of these coping strategies is not sustainable and leads to further health and nutrition problems as well as accelerated depletion of livelihoods.