Real Time Information for Disaster Risk Management from MSS

22 Apr 2014

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22 April, 2014 – Communities all over Timor-Leste are at risk from the impacts of disasters caused by natural hazards. Approximately 80 per cent of the country’s population has already experienced the effects of a natural disaster in their lifetime. The country’s location and vulnerability to cyclic climatic events means that every year people suffer from localized events including floods, landslides, high winds and prolonged dry seasons. Timor-Leste is also prone to earthquakes and tsunamis which could significantly affect the lives of people and have an enormous impact on economic and social infrastructure. (Lee versaun Tetum iha ne'e)

To support the ability of government, ministries, civil social and the public’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to possible disasters, the National Disaster Management Directorate (NDMD) of the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS), developed the National Information Portal (IP) for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in Timor-Leste, www.drm.tl. 

The Portal provides a platform for real time knowledge networking – a mechanism for the collection, dissemination and exchange of information, as well as coordination and monitoring of disaster-related initiatives.  Since being launched at the end of 2013, the Portal now has 47 active users and beneficiaries from more than 20 government ministries and institutes including the security sector, the country’s international and national development partners, donors, civil society, the private sector, academia, professional bodies and the media.

Key features of the portal include a map-based Resource Inventory providing up-to-date information on stock levels in different locations; Situation, Needs, and Risk Assessment Reports; Policies and Procedures manuals; and a Disaster Database providing the who, what, where,  when and how for preventing, preparing and recovering from disaster.  Disaster responders as well as the public can also access and use the 3-day weather forecasts generated by the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) and disaster alerts which is posted on the Portal by the NDMD-National Disaster Operations Center. The DRM Portal and its User Manual are published in both Tetun and English.

The Portal was developed by MSS and UNDP as part of its joint project on Strengthening Capacities for Disaster Risk Management (2011-2013). Additional technical contributions were provided by the software company AIDIQ and its local ICT team, CATALPA.

In building the Portal, MSS and UNDP looked to the experience and lessons learned from other DRM sites, particularly from countries in the global south. These included UNDP India’s Solution Exchange initiative, UNDP Nepal’s use of the Sahana software for disaster management, and UNDP Iran’s work with that country’s government in developing its own DRM Portal.  All were studied and adapted to address Timor-Leste’s unique climatic, environmental and geographic challenges.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity, through the NDMD, has the mandate for coordinating and overseeing the Timor-Leste’s DRM policies and initiatives. In 2008, the NDMD developed a comprehensive National Disaster Risk Management Policy, which adapts commitments under the Global Hyogo Framework for Action for Risk Reduction  2005-2015. Among its essential principles, the Policy acknowledges the importance of multi-sector coordination and the role of local governments and communities, knowledge sharing and information management system, the need for including women in development and implantation of activities as well as a focus on children and youth. Moreover, the National Action Plan for Adaption to Climate Change (NAPA) (2011), proposed promotion of NDMD-led coordination and information sharing for DRM and climate change risk reduction with key ministries and at the district level, including early warning and response.

In 2012, NDMD requested support from UNDP DRM Project for the development and deployment of a web-based IT system and complementary tools. The system would facilitate the capture and dissemination of information about DRM and climate risk among stakeholders, including the public, and strengthen coordination between Government and partner institutions to prepare for and respond to disasters effectively and systematically.