The COVID-19 pandemic has forced rapid adaptation to unprecedented social, economic and health conditions. In Timor-Leste, novel responses including advanced data tracking and resource mobilisation to support medical frontlines and vulnerable communities, are helping limit the outbreak.

As of June 1, 2020, forced lockdowns are relaxing as no new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded for over 30 days . Yet the context in Timor also includes ongoing political uncertainty, dengue outbreaks and recent flash flooding across the country, exacerbate the socio-economic impacts.

To cushion the economic effects the Government of Timor-Leste Government is providing over 300K households with two $100 cash payments and $15 in electrical tokens - to be distributed in collaboration with telecommunication companies.

Touchless handwash station designed by UNDP Accelerator Lab team. Photo: Irene Gaviero/ UNDP

However, promoting prevention through good hygiene, frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and correct use of PPE remain the most effective measures. The Accelerator Lab is supporting expansion of the key tools in these efforts – production of face shield and locally made hand sanitiser.

Across Timor, development partners including UNDP are helping the Ministry of Public Works to distribute hand washing stations at quarantine facilities, borders crossings, airports, government offices, markets, clinics, and other public areas.

Accelerator Lab Timor Leste has also designed touchless taps - with multiple taps per tank - to be placed in shared community premises. The Accelerator Lab is supporting UNDP projects in designing touchless and automatic hand wash stations which are more effective in preventing the spread of the Corona virus.

Locally made hand sanitizer

Disruptions to global supply chains and daily life from social isolation have highlighted the need for community-based solutions that can carry over to sustainable industries and employment. For Accelerator Lab UNDP, this begins with producing hand sanitiser. Global market disruptions, and early panic buying of pure alcohol and ethanol exhausted Timor Leste's national ethanol stocks.  

Research via social media helped us find local youth business 'LIMOS', who was producing local hand sanitiser. We learned that they already employed three people to produce hand sanitiser, however faced challenges in the marketing of their product. Guidance and networking support from Accelerator Lab was able to help them expand their market domestically.  

Reclaimed materials being used as Ethanol disitililation equipment (except the stainless tank)

 

LIMOS's distillation equipment is built from available every-day items such as used air conditioners, water pumps and cooler boxes, while the main ingredients for making ethanol are yeast, lime juice and sugar which are fermented and distilled. It is then mixed with Aloe Vera gel and Hydrogen peroxide to form the final product.

Through the UNDP’s Decentralisation and Coastal Resilience projects, Accelerator Lab has been able to connect LIMOS with community groups harvesting Aloe Vera. LIMOS has also benefitted from connecting WHO guidance on hand sanitiser production.

Accelerator Lab was also able to connect LIMOS to local markets, health clinics and pharmacies. One priority outcome of this partnership will be to provide additional health care support particularly to frontline medical staff who must continue working during the state of emergency.

This example shows us how this challenging period is also an opportunity for ingenuity and self-reliance that can create new jobs and industries in Timor. If you have been experimenting novel ideas to respond to coronavirus in Timor-Leste, let us know! Contact: francisco.dearaujo@undp.org; grazela.albino@undp.org

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