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Timor Leste: Flooding and Landslides DREF operation No MDRTP002 Update No. 3

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The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

Period covered by this update: 1 January 2008 - 30 April 2008

Summary: The sum of CHF 145,212 (USD 125,772 or EUR 89.792) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 25 July 2007 to support the national society in delivering assistance to 947 beneficiaries.

In July 2007, Timor-Leste experienced severe downpours leading to flooding and landslides. Overall, 243 families (totalling 947 people comprising 463 men and 484 women) in six districts were badly affected. Through the DREF support, the operation was planned for five months - July through November 2007. However, due to security problems, heavy rains and flooding, insurgency activities and logistical problems such as the purchase of appropriate timber, the operation was extended till March 2008.

The situation

This operation aligns with the International Federation's Global Agenda Goal 1: Reduced deaths, injuries and impact from disasters. The main challenges have been the short supply of legal timber; security instability and the state of siege for two months; the long wet season; and local community being prohibited from accessing forest resources for construction materials. As such, progress has been slow. On a positive note, however, 76 families have completed and are using their shelters while another 105 shelters are nearly completed.

Overall, Timor-Leste faced many challenges during 2007. About 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) have been in the camps for more than a year. The security situation is still unpredictable. The country faced drought from February to March 2007 resulting in food scarcity in many parts. This was followed by a new bout of civil unrest which erupted in the three eastern districts that led to the displacement of about 10,000 people as well as the destruction or burning down of houses and various infrastructures. In the meantime, La Niña brought about heavy rains frequently from December 2007 to date that caused large-scale flooding and landslides in many parts of the country, especially in the Liquica district. Meanwhile, the south-western districts were badly affected by locust infestations.

This DREF bulletin reports on response to the heavy rainfall of July 2007 that resulted in floods and landslides in many parts of the country. The impact was particularly severe in the districts of Suai, Same, Manatutu, Viqueque and Ermera. A total of 243 households were affected with at least one death recorded as well as severe loss of livelihood, shelter and crops such as rice, corn and green crops. In Suai, about 100 deep wells were contaminated by flood water while many houses in Jumalai were destroyed by landslides. Outbreaks of diarrhoea, malaria and dengue were reported in Suai.

Coordination and partnerships

Soon after the disaster, the National Disaster Management Office coordinated the major stakeholders including government departments, UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations, the Timor-Leste national society, Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste (CVTL) and the International Federation in relief operations. In Suai, Oxfam with the help of CVTL volunteers cleaned up water wells to ensure safe water. In the meantime, interagency needs assessment teams led by UNOCHA were sent to the affected areas. The government provided initial assistance to the affected families in Manatutu and Suai, distributing food parcels and non-food items while logistical support was provided by the United Nations.

The interagency coordination body discussed immediate and longer term needs based on needs assessment reports. Different agencies agreed to provide immediate relief assistance in different sectors. Shelter, however, was one area that was relatively unattended to, leading to the combined efforts of the CVTL national headquarters and the International Federation to address this gap.

Contact information

For further information:

Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste (Timor-Leste Red Cross): Isabel Amaral Guterres (secretary general); email:; phone: +670.724.8963; fax: +670.332.1688

Federation country office in Timor-Leste: Arne Jacobson (head of country office); email:; phone: +670.723.1434; fax: +670.332.2010

Federation Southeast Asia regional office in Thailand: Alan Bradbury (acting head of regional delegation); email:; phone: +66.2.661.8201; fax: +66.2.661.9322

Asia Pacific zone office in Kuala Lumpur: Amy Gaver (disaster management delegate), email:, phone: + 60 3 9207 5724, fax: +60 3 2161 0670, mobile +60 12 220 1174.