Disaster READY Field Story

Under the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, CARE International in Timor-Leste conducts activities such as community-based hazard mapping leading to the development of action plans. The action plans are developed using an inclusive and participatory approach to ensure the needs and priorities of communities, in particular vulnerable communities such as women, children, people with disability, the elderly and breastfeeding and pregnant women are heard and addressed. 

Timor-Leste is a small, mountainous country whose population of 1.2 million is exposed to drought, flooding, landslides, storms and earthquakes. The 2015 Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Disaster Risk Reduction identifies flooding as the most frequent natural disaster, followed by drought and storms that occur annually. In the country’s south-east in the municipality of Viqueque, is the village of Ossu de Cima, with a population of 4,262 people. With funding from the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP), CARE International in Timor-Leste (CITL) is supporting communities like Ossu de Cima to focus on community-based disaster risk management to ensure people with a disability, women and children are involved in disaster preparedness and planning and that their different needs are addressed. The project works in 11 sucos in five Administrative Posts of Viqueque reaching over 30,000 people (50% female).
Under AHP, CITL conducts activities such as community-based hazard mapping leading to the development of action plans. For many communities like suco Ossu de Cima this is the first time they have participated in such activities. “Before I thought disasters are only about emergency response as disasters are natural. However through the process of developing the Community Disaster Risk Reduction plan under the Disaster Ready Project I now know that we can prevent and mitigate hazards and risk and reduce the impact through our village Disaster Risk Reduction plans”, explains Village Chief, Juliao da Cruz, Suco Ossu de Cima.  
CARE’s Disaster Ready team supports communities and Sub-Village Leaders to develop Disaster Risk Assessments. The plans assess the hazard, area at risk and vulnerability by using Participatory Community Risk Assessment tools such as resource, hazard and risk mapping, seasonal calendar, disaster timeline and problem tree analysis. In suco Ossu de Cima the community identified key hazards as drought, strong winds and animal disease especially for buffaloes and chickens, pests destroying crops, and landslides with key areas of risk being houses, gardens, rice fields and roads.
The community then developed an action plan and identified solutions from the problem tree analysis. The action plans list the hazards, the impact, area of risk, actions to reduce the hazard, community or external resources required, who will be responsible for leading, timeframe to implement and indicators. In suco Ossu de Cima, the community identified solutions such as tree planting to prevent landslides and to reduce the speed of strong wind, vaccinations for animals to prevent diseases, and use of natural pesticides with training on use and ongoing technical support from the Department of Agriculture and Veterinary services.
To address the issues of water scarcity during droughts, the suco community councils are committed to find solutions. In July, communities will have a municipal workshop with relevant Government Departments and agencies including the Agriculture, Water and Sanitation Departments, and Program National Development Suco (PNDS). It will provide an opportunity to present their identified solutions.  This includes spring water protection by creating local laws to not cut trees around springs and to identify other community water sources to reduce dependence on one water source that will lead to increased water storage for households.
In addition to supporting communities to develop Disaster Risk Reduction plans, CARE will support sucos like Ossu de Cima to provide 27 suco council members (Village Chief, 8 sub-village chiefs (1 female), 1 female and 1 male youth and 8 women and 8 male community representatives) with proposal writing and budgetary management training. This is important to support sucos to be able to receive funding for Governments or other agencies to implement their suco Disaster Risk Reduction planned activities in the future.
Following CARE’s activities through Disaster Ready, 371 community members (53% females, 3% people with disability) from suco Ossu de Cima joined the participatory development process of their suco Disaster Risk Reduction action plan to identify key priorities that target vulnerable groups. The approach ensures that their different needs of the most disadvantaged groups are met by using guiding questions during hazard, risk and vulnerability analysis. For example, if there is strong wind: which households are at risk, who lives in the house including how many children, people with a disability, are any women pregnant or breastfeeding or elderly people.  It also identifies who will help them during the event or hazard and what special needs that need to be addressed such as safe and accessible places for shelter and food and water needs.
On 3 June 2019, the eight aldeias (sub-villages) in suco Ossu de Cima presented their community Disaster Risk Reduction action plans at the suco level where the suco council, led by the Village Chief, endorsed and validated it. Following the presentation of the community action plan, the coordinator of the Veterinary Department agreed to provide training on pest control for crops and vaccinations for animals and provide funding (amount to be determined) for vaccination supplies and technical support for each Aldeia to build a facility using local materials to do vaccinations. The Veterinary Department will assess ongoing support needs on a quarterly basis. 
This a significant achievement for Suco Ossu de Cima, as they now have a DRR plan and actions to build the communities resilience to respond to disasters, but also ensuring that vulnerable people (elderly, children, women) are not left behind and that their voice is heard and their needs addressed. Following veterinary support, the community will be able to vaccinate their animals, which will lead to fewer diseases.
Under Disaster Ready, CARE has provided community members in Suco Ossu de Cima with gender, disability and child protection training in disaster risk reduction. In July 2019, CARE will provide the community with women in leadership and engaging men and boys training. The objectives of these trainings are for women to have more active participation and decision making in community plans and events, men and boys, church leaders and local government to address barriers for participation of women and people with disability and consider how they will address their needs and rights in disaster preparedness plans to respond to disasters.
As part of their disaster risk reduction plan, suco Ossu de Cima also identified the need for nutrition training and best practice for agriculture production training from the Government.  These trainings will assist communities to sell their healthy animals and increase their income to support their family needs with a focus on prioritising children’s education, family health and nutrition needs. The veterinary technical support for pest control management will contribute to increased food production such corn and rice, leading to reduced malnutrition and healthier lives for especially for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, elderly and people with a disability. 
July 2021