Red Cross appeals for support for drought-hit communities in Timor Leste

Published: 19 May 2016

May 19, 2016 - Jakarta / Kuala Lumpur: Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an 800,000 Swiss Franc (USD 814,000) Emergency Appeal to support 20,000 vulnerable people in Timor Leste who are suffering from the effects of drought conditions triggered by El Niño.

Government estimates indicate that 120,000 people have been severely affected across five districts (Baucau, Coyalima, Lautern, Oecusse and Viqueque). 63 percent of the country’s population is engaged in agricultural production and water shortages triggered by the El Niño phenomenon are affecting the livelihoods of thousands of single-season farmers and those involved in livestock-rearing.  Almost 50 percent of households across the country are expected to experience varying levels of food insecurity until June.

The Appeal will support a 10-month relief and recovery operation led by the Timor Leste Red Cross who will conduct a range of activities across three of the worst-affected districts (Baucau, Lautem and Viqueque) including;  Meeting peoples immediate food and household needs, mainly via cash transfers;  Nutritional support to selected households, especially those with pregnant or lactating women, infants and young children together with inputs for homestead gardening as an option for growing nutrient-rich food; Support to enable people to restart or diversify their income sources and water, sanitation and hygiene interventions that improve access to safe water, water storage, and educate communities on good hygiene practises.

Assessment missions undertaken by Red Cross teams reveal that some communities are resorting to foraging for wild plants and are reducing the size and frequency of their meals to cope with food shortages.  The loss of livestock is more keenly felt, as the farmers rely on the income generated from their sale to send their children to school and other household expenses.

“The IFRC will support the Timor Leste Red Cross to build on the work they have already been doing to strengthen the resilience of local communities in the face of disasters”,  said Giorgio Ferrario, Head of the IFRC’s Country Cluster Support Team in Indonesia. 

Climate scientists are reporting that there is an increased likelihood of a La Niña event forming in second half of 2016 which could bring higher-than-usual rainfall to Timor Leste. The threat of flooding across the country would have a serious impact on people struggling to recover from the recent drought conditions.

“As well as delivering services to people struggling to cope with the drought conditions, the operation will strengthen the capacity of the Red Cross to help people prepare for and respond to the impacts of La Niña, ensuring that their staff receive training and have prepositioned relief supplies in place”, explained Giorgio Ferrario.


For further information contact;

In Jakarta:

In Kuala Lumpur:

  • Patrick Fuller, Communications Manager, IFRC Asia Pacific regional office | Email:  | Tel: +60 122308451


About the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. In Asia Pacific, the IFRC is made up of a regional office in Kuala Lumpur with an additional 12 offices strategically located to support activities in the region and to coordinate and support 40 member National Societies, more than 140,000 local units and 9 million volunteers reaching more than 77 million people every year. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.