The Government of Timor-Leste and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $1 million grant agreement to support immediate relief efforts in the aftermath of tropical cyclone Seroja, which caused flooding and landslides in the capital Dili and surrounding low-lying areas.
The grant, financed by the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, will support the government’s efforts to restore life-saving services, such as conducting damage assessment to coordinate crisis response and disaster recovery, providing conditional transfers to Dili residents, and rehabilitating basic community infrastructure.
“The cyclone has put enormous pressure on the country amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic,” said ADB’s Country Director for Timor-Leste Sunil Mitra. “ADB will work with development partners to support the government’s disaster relief efforts to help people affected by the floods and mudslides.”
From 29 March to 4 April, torrential rains and winds caused historic flash flooding that damaged homes, agricultural land, and critical infrastructure, including electrical lines and communications networks, across eight municipalities in Timor-Leste. To date, more than 40 fatalities have been reported and about 2,315 households, or nearly 13,554 people, moved to about 40 evacuation centers in Dili. They are in urgent need of food, drinking water, medicine, and water and sanitation, and hygiene facilities.
The calamity could worsen the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as well as outbreaks of water and vector-borne diseases. Since March, Timor-Leste has been trying to control a surge in COVID-19 cases. On 7 April, the government launched the COVID-19 national vaccination program. Frontline workers, many of whom are also treating flood victims, are expected to start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in the next few weeks.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.