La Nina National Emergency Situation Timor Leste

Press Release by Rob Wesley-Smith Affet Darwin 28th January 08

61 8 89832113 0419 807175 rwesley@ozemail.com.au

The Disaster Operations Centre of the Timor Leste Government has issued an urgent situation report, stating that the country has experienced destructive impact from monsoonal storms producing high winds, floods and landslides over the Christmas and New Year period. Initial reports indicate that significant impact occurred in 11 of 13 districts in Timor-Leste with damage to public and private infrastructure and agriculture.

The impact over the past month, developing impact of locusts and the forecast of further extreme wet season weather early February are of great concern for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste with meetings to identify what resources are required to manage present and developing humanitarian, recovery and risk reduction needs effectively.

The present climatic conditions durring this La Niña event are challenging Timor-Lesteâ™s resources.

Unfortunately the impact of the Wet weather is exacerbated by years of neglect and bad practice.

1. For various reasons most people rely on firewood for cooking, resulting in great pressure on the woodlands. Excessive population increase makes this worse.

2. The people love to burn every leaf in sight on the ground, rather than promote natural mulching.

3. There is no adequate program of environment rehabilitation, which along with the above factors would encourage rain to soak into the soil, instead of rushing off into rapidly flooding rivers which damage bridges and land and agriculture and even deposit silt onto reefs.

Both the Timor Leste Government and the UN must urgently address prevention rather than dealing with the aftermath on these matters which will otherwise only get worse. Education, laws, and imaginative action are needed, not just talk, and this issue needs the mountainous nation’s highest priority.

Rob Wesley-Smith BRurSc

Australians for a Free East Timor

Darwin

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