Disasters impact on entire communities. The immediate effects include loss of life and damage to property and infrastructure, with the survivors (some of whom may have been injured in the disaster) traumatized by the experience, uncertain of the future and less able to provide for their own welfare, at least in the short term. They are very often left without adequate shelter, food, water and other necessities to sustain life. Rapid action is required to prevent further loss of life.
As an auxiliary to the Government, CVTL plays a key role as first-responder in saving lives and restoring livelihoods of people affected by disasters in Timor-Leste, including the provision of emergency water and sanitation, hygiene promotion, protection, shelter, non-food items and livelihoods support. National and branch staff and volunteers conducted needs assessments, distributed relief items, attended coordination meetings with other emergency response actors, and where necessary, assisted evacuation of at-risk communities. CVTL participated in national emergency management planning, including developing inter-agency contingency plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Involvement in national disaster simulation exercises that took place three times between 2010 and 2014 and annual district-level simulations, which coincide with International Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Day, is key to the national and district DMC’ capacity to respond when required and deliver coherent and rapid response. The installation of four warehouses and nine shipping containers in the 13 district branches facilitates prepositioning of emergency stocks and equipment to ensure CVTL can respond where needed. In 2014, CVTL acquired two inflatable boats for maritime search-and-rescue, and has since conducted week-long training simulations, further strengthening response capacity.
In the five years to 2014, CVTL provided natural disaster emergency response in all 13 districts of Timor-Leste, assisting 17,600 people. Whilst most disaster events during this period were of a small to medium-scale and localised in nature, CVTL maintains their national and branch response capacity to respond to all-levels of disasters through their National Disaster Response Team (NDRT) and Branch Disaster Response Teams (BDRTs). CVTL conducts regular NDRT and BDRT trainings to ensure the readiness of 350 trained staff and volunteers. CVTL’s NDRT and BDRTs responded to a severe flooding that occurred in 2013 and affected 27,000 people in seven districts, following from which CVTL supported the community of Suai Loro with a nine-month recovery program.