European Union scales up its response to COVID-19 in Timor-Leste
to ease hardships faced by the most vulnerable

With a grant from the European Union of USD 1.3 million, five international NGOs have teamed up with local civil society organisations (CSOs) to provide support to the Timorese population, in particular to vulnerable households in eight municipalities
 CARE, Oxfam, Plan International, Catholic Relief Services and World Vision are working together with a range of Timorese organisations to help 32,000 people overcome the challenges that CVID-19 had brought.  They are targeting in particular women, people with disabilities, health workers, farmers, community leaders, and savings and loan group members in Dili, Aileu, Baucau, Viqueque, Liquica, Ermera, Covalima and Oecussi.
 
The EU-supported initiative aims to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable families in remote areas of Timor-Leste by providing handwashing facilities and water system upgrades at health and community institutions, including churches. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene kits will be distributed to health and community workers.
The initiative will also help farmers to grow and store their products. To ensure food security, support will be given to local vendors who purchase produce from farmers, thus reinforcing the active link between the farmers and markets. In addition, the project will provide be technical assistance to strengthen village savings and loan groups.
 
The European Union Ambassador to Timor-Leste Andrew Jacobs said: “The European Union is pleased to have been able to support Timor-Leste’s response to Coronavirus in a number of ways, and today  I am very proud to support this initiative which targets the poorest families, providing economic support and delivering health services to vulnerable people, including those with disabilities.”
As cases of gender-based violence (GBV) and harassment may increase in the pandemic setting, the project will also be promoting referral systems for GBV cases, and using radio and social media to advocate for positive parenting and prevention of domestic violence in the household.
“As families adapt to the situation and reduced mobility may prevent vulnerable women from leaving home, we are particularly concerned for those who need to be able to access services provided for survivors of violence” says Peter Goodfellow, Country Director for CARE International in Timor-Leste
 
Timor-Leste has had 24 cases and zero deaths recorded but if a significant spike in cases occurs this could potentially challenge the health system. To address the gaps in information dissemination, the project will boost prevention awareness outreach and messaging in communities through support to community health volunteers, radio broadcasting, and social media. There will be a partnership with the local media in promoting factual COVID-19 information to counter fake news.
 
“Strengthening the capacity of local CSOs is one of the key focuses of the project to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. The project will work closely with local CSOs to support vulnerable groups in Timor-Leste to overcome the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic”, says Dillyana Ximenes, Country Director of Plan International Timor-Leste.
 
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased vulnerabilities of people in Timor-Leste and is deepening pre-existing inequalities. Working together as a team in this project will make us achieve more. Through resource sharing, we can work together to efficiently build services that address the needs of people in need” says Yane Pinto, Acting Country Manager CRS Timor-Leste.

The European Union launched its “Team Europe” package to support partner countries in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. The overall figure of the “Team Europe” package reaches more than 20 billion euros.

In Timor-Leste, the European Union response to COVID19 carries a budget of approximately USD 3.5 Million. This includes both new projects such as the current one, reorientations of existing programmes in order to make them better address the COVID 19 crisis, as well as part of a regional project implemented through WHO. The support aims to reinforce the Timorese health sector, mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis effect on the economy, and mitigate the social impacts on the population, notably on the most vulnerable segments of society (women and girls, children, elderly people, disabled persons). Finally, in response to the global Covid 19 Pandemic, the EU has exceptionally waived the requirements for indicators that had not been met under the Budget Support programmes for a total of 1.35 mln. This means that these funds which would otherwise not have been disbursed will now be made available to provide macroeconomic support to Timor-Leste.

CARE works around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. CARE puts women and girls in the centre because we know that we cannot overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities.  CARE has been working in the Timor-Leste region since 1994. CARE’s work in Timor-Leste focuses on long-term sustainable development projects in agriculture and disaster risk reduction, education, community health and nutrition, sexual reproductive and maternal health, and women’s participation and gender equality. 

Oxfam is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to beat poverty together. Oxfam tackles the inequalities that make and keep people poor. Oxfam saves and protects lives in times of crisis, works with people to build resilience and rebuild their livelihoods and campaigns for genuine, durable change. Oxfam has been on the ground in Timor-Leste since 1999. Current programs focus on livelihoods, resilience and inclusive development, gender equality and disability inclusion.

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We strive for a just world, working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners. Plan International has been operating in Timor-Leste for nearly 20 years and currently focuses on gender equality, girls’ and women’ empowerment, gender based violence, sexual and reproductive health, positive parenting and nutrition, water and sanitation, climate resilience, and CSO strengthening.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. CRS has partnered with the Catholic Church and the people of Timor-Leste since 1999. Current programs focus on nutrition sensitive agriculture, livelihood, peace building and resilience.

World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. In Timor-Leste since 1995, World Vision works with communities, partner NGOs, local and donor governments, and the private sector, to deliver high-impact programming. Current programs focus on health, nutrition, water and sanitation; child protection and gender equality; resilience; and livelihoods.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)-Timor-Leste, communities are facing challenges in accessing accurate COVID-19 information, reliable communication channels, and hygiene materials and facilities that help prevent the transmission of the virus.
“COVID-19 is having an impact on people’s lives in Timor-Leste in livelihoods and food security, and communities remain vulnerable without adequate access to hygiene facilities. Through this collaboration we are strengthening Timor-Leste’s health sector, and supporting local civil society to respond to local community’s needs” says Oxfam in Timor-Leste’s Country Director, Kathy Richards.
 
The Government has recently extended the state of emergency that has involved movement restriction, surveillance and compulsory 14-day quarantine for those possibly exposed to the virus. Economic impact has been considerable and the agriculture sector is one of the most affected.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Peter.Goodfellow@careint.org, Country Director CARE International in Timor-Leste 

                            

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