MSS and UNDP partnership to strengthen infrastructure against natural disaster along Dili-to-Ainaro Corridor

Oct 10, 2014

H.E. Isabel Amaral Guterres, Minister of Social Solidarity and Mr. Knut Ostby, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative sign the new partnership agreement. Photo: Felisberta Moniz Da Silva/UNDP Timor-Leste


Project will protect more than 500,000 people


Dili, 10 October 2014 – The Ministry of Social Solidarity and the United Nations Development Programme today, signed a new partnership agreement designed to protect critical infrastructure along the Dili-to-Ainaro Development Corridor from climate-induced natural disaster. (Lee versaun Tetun iha ne'e)

The Dili-to-Ainaro Road Development Corridor (DARDC) is a vital road network linking five districts and more than 503,200 people through its North/South trajectory. Also referred to as the “poverty corridor”, it is at risk from climate-induced natural disasters such as flash floods, landslides and soil erosion.  The new project combines the development of better policies, strengthened local disaster risk management institutions, and investments in risk reduction measures designed to secure infrastructure investment and human development gains.

"This project will bring a number of benefits to Timor-Leste including economic development, access to market, access to education and health services, evacuation in case of natural disasters as well as post disaster relief,” said H.E. Isabel Amaral Guterres, Minister of Social Solidarity. "These objectives can only be achieved when there is collaboration among communities, local authorities, state institutions and non-governmental agencies."

The steep mountainous topography and climate characterized by extreme precipitation challenge the safeguarding of investments in road infrastructure along the Corridor. This situation is exacerbated by excessive deforestation and poor agricultural practices. In partnership with the World Bank, the Government is investing US$115 million to rehabilitate the roads along the corridor. However most disasters originate outside of the corridor itself, requiring mitigation and preventative measures to secure infrastructure and development investments for the region.

Working at the institutional and policy, community, and watershed levels, DARDC will incorporate capacity development, improved delivery of disaster prevention measures, and ecosystem-based approaches and small scale infrastructure development to reduce climate-induced disaster risk. At the institutional and policy levels, DARDC will work to integrate climate change into Timor-Leste’s National Disaster Risk Management Policy. A training facility will provide disaster risk reduction and climate change training across government agencies using a training-of-trainers model. DARDC will also support the country’s newly established Climate Change Center located at the National University of Timor-Leste with a focus on disaster risk reduction (DRR).

 “This partnership is another example of the importance the Government of Timor-Leste places on building programmes to enhance disaster risk planning, budgeting and delivery at the community level and aligns with the country’s National Strategic Plan for local governance,” said Mr. Knut Ostby, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. “Working together, we will be able to protect vital infrastructure and with it the social and economic gains in the region.”

DARDC will improve the capacity of national, district and sub-district officials to assess, plan, budget, and deliver investments in climate change related disaster prevention. At least 200 district and sub-district officials will be trained in disaster risk management. The country’s Early Warning System (EWS) will be strengthened and developed to enable advanced warning of disaster events from districts to communities. Simultaneously, communication from communities to districts will be improved to allow faster response to occurring disasters in communities. At least 5,000 vulnerable households will be covered by EWS’s to protect human lives. Landslides, flooding and erosion in the DARDC will be reduced and consequently economic and social losses will be decreased with the watershed management activities and small scale infrastructure projects in the communities. Community level watershed management measures will cover at least 50,000 ha.

Delivered by the Government of Timor-Leste with support from the World Bank, national partners include MSS, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), Ministry of State Administration and Territorial Management (MSA), Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment (MCIE), and the Ministry of Public Works (MPW).

In addition to the World Bank, financial support for DARDC is provided by the Government of Japan and the Global Environment Fund. Funding will be channeled through the government’s decision-making and funding mechanisms, particularly to those that support suco (village) and district priorities.

With 64% of the labor force working in agriculture, low intensity natural disasters add significantly to the vulnerability of rural farmers and increase food insecurity. A 2013 assessment by the Ministry of Public Works indicates that 154 road and bridges were affected by climate induced disasters requiring US$75 million in reconstruction budgets. In that same year, the Ministry of Social Solidarity spent close to US$4 million providing assistance to affected families.

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