Díli, 15 November 2021, United Nations Development Programme, Ms. Munkhtuya Altangerel with the Minister of State Administration, H. E. Dr. Miguel Pereira de Carvalho, was officially launching a report of “Housing and Building Damage Assessment (HBDA) at Kofi Annan Room, UN house Cai-Coli Dili.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja was followed by heavy rains across Timor-Leste from 29 March 2021 to 4 April 2021, resulting in flash floods and landslides affecting all 13 municipalities in Timor-Leste to varying degrees, with the capital Dili and the surrounding low-lying areas the worst-affected. A total of 48 fatalities (including 14 missing and presumed dead) have been recorded. On 8th April 2021, the Government declared a state of calamity in Dili for a period of 30 days and requested for international assistance. According to official figures, a total of 30,564 households have been affected across all 13 municipalities with over 81 percent of the affected households in Dili Municipality. Flash floods caused landslides, damage to houses, buildings and public infrastructure including section of highways and city roads.
In the launching day Ms. Altangerel, said that the principal objectives of the HBDA were two-folds: 1) to assess damage caused to buildings, in addition to the livelihood needs and conditions and needs of the flood-affected households; 2) to feed into the (PDNA) Post-Disaster Needs Assessments to inform recovery planning. Ms. Altangerel further saying that, the Housing and Building Damage Assessment was jointly steered by UNDP Timor-Leste, UNDP SURGE Data Hub, the General Directorate of Statistics and UNTL’s Civil Engineering Department. This was supported by the General Directorate for Rural Development and also Secretary of State for Civil Protection. Five most affected municipalities were covered by the HBDA namely Dili, Manatuto, Baucau, Ainaro and Liquica. 928 buildings were assessed, and 860 households were surveyed for the livelihoods including 20 commercial businesses.
Ms. Altangerel also by saying that, 90 percent of the households reported decline in household income because of the Easter floods. Damage to equipment, damage to finished products, shortage/lack of raw materials and productivity decline were the most cited reasons for affecting business following the floods. The HBDA also shows that about 80% of the surveyed buildings had suffered some structural damage, 12.7% buildings are fully collapsed and 8.8% are severely damaged. Recommendations for the proposed build-back-better were fed into PDNA which has been presented to the Government led by the office of Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Territorial Ordinance. The overall findings and recommendations from HBDA were shared with the government partners at the end of July 2021. The final report of HBDA was officially launched and handed over to government through the Ministry of State Administration on 15 November 2021, Added Ms. Altangerel.
The Resident Representative of UNDP, Ms. Munkhtuya Altangerel adding and by highlighted the key findings of the Housing and Building Damage Assessment including some of the recommendations for the Build Back Better has been incorporated into Post Disaster Needs Assessments.
At the last statement the Resident Representative of UNDP said that “The UNDP team stands ready to support the Government and partners to take forward the findings and recommendations emerging from the HBDA, and we continue supporting the Government in setting the vision and priorities in building more climate resilient society”.
The Minister of State Administration, H.E. Dr. Miguel Pereira de Carvalho thanked UNDP for leading the Housing and Building Damage Assessment works. He welcomed the results and recommendations therein which complement the gaps of data and information possessed by the Government by reiterating that “the report will provide useful information for the government to make its plans particularly in preparation for another year of La Niña that has been forecasted to affect the region including Timor-Leste between this November 2021 until April 2022”.
The results of the Housing and Building Damage Assessment were welcomed by participants present in the launching including senior government officials, development partners and civil society organizations. Among the feedbacks received during discussions was the necessity of having closer collaboration in the future between government, public institutions, agencies, and community.
To conclude, Mr. Silvino Lopes – National Director of Systems and Reports of the office of the General Directorate of Statistics Timor-Leste – highlighted the importance of data in making informed decisions. He said that “people often argue that data collection is an expensive exercise which is true, however, it will be more expensive to design and build an infrastructure without data”.