Massive floods hit capital Dili, destroying nearly 200 homes and affecting over 25 000 people, East Timor

Several hours of very heavy rains caused widespread flooding in capital Dili, East Timor (Timor-Leste) on March 13, 2020. Authorities are reporting at least 25 000 people or 4 000 households are affected. Even though the floods have now receded, affected communities are still in need of essential relief items such as food and drinking water.

Heavy downpours began striking the capital city of Dili on March 13, causing rivers to break their banks.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at least 190 residential properties were completely destroyed and many others damaged. In addition, floods damaged or destroyed roads, bridges, electricity towers and other infrastructure. In addition, the newly-built Bridge BJ Habibie was destroyed just 7 months after the inauguration.

The worst-affected areas in the municipality are Cristo Rei, Nain Feto, Dom Aleixo, and Vera Cruz, as well as Hera, outside of Dili. 

The IFRC conducted an impact assessment from March 14 to 15, led by East Timor’s Civil Protection Department. The group was also joined by other organizations including the CVTL, IOM, Mercy Corps, Plan International, Oxfam, UNICEF, and various governmental agencies.

Aside from houses, the floods also affected school activities, contaminated clean water, and caused health issues among the people.

“Based on initial information collected by CVTL through the assessment, current immediate needs are food, access to clean water and health services,” IFRC said in a bulletin released March 18. “The predicted needs to follow are education services and cleaning equipment.”

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CVTL assured that they are coordinating with the government and are also involved in the assessment, along with other organizations.

“In addition, CVTL is supporting the government in the distribution of food and non-food items and is in charge of data entry of the assessment. The Government through its National Disaster Risk Management Directorate (NDRMD) has requested CVTL to support the Secretary State of Civil Protection to respond to the flood.”