Timor-Leste Transitional Strategy and Appeal 2008

Timor-Leste Transitional Strategy and Appeal 2008


The successful presidential and parliamentary elections held in April and June 2007 have enabled Timor-Leste to continue its transition from relief to development. However, the country faces a complex web of problems related to civil unrest, chronic poverty and environmental degradation. A return to conflict in 2006 led to the displacement of some 150 000 people, while there was post-election violence in some districts in August 2007 and attacks on the President and Prime Minister in February 2008.

Timor-Leste is struggling with deep-rooted vulnerabilities in terms of natural disasters, climatic events as a result of the La Niña and El Niño phenomena, seasonal food insecurity, high levels of unemployment and a lack of economic opportunities and basic infrastructure, among other factors.

The large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is recognized as a serious threat to social and political stability in the country. The root causes of conflict in Timor-Leste are linked to food insecurity, lack of access to basic services, fragile livelihoods and lack of environmental sustainability, among other factors. There is a need to create income-generating opportunities to support the return and relocation of IDPs and reduce potential economic pressures and resentment among host communities.

The Transitional Strategy and Appeal (TSA)

During the transition phase, there is a simultaneous coexistence between humanitarian response, recovery efforts and development programmes. The 2008 TSA for Timor-Leste will complement Government humanitarian and recovery interventions, combining a consolidated response to IDP-related humanitarian and recovery issues and a selected response to chronic vulnerabilities of the wider population.

The TSA has three main components:

  • to continue provision of emergency assistance to IDPs in camps;
  • to support the five pillars of the National Recovery Strategy; and
  • to strengthen national disaster risk management capacity.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Agriculture plays a key role in the economy of Timor-Leste, with about a third of Timorese households depending exclusively on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. Chronic food insecurity is widespread and is caused by a combination of factors, including low purchasing power, poor access to adequate farmland and irrigation and limited access to income-generation opportunities.

The long-term presence of IDPs is placing a strain on household incomes and on subsistence coping mechanisms of host families. Food insecurity is compounded by natural disasters and a degraded resource base. The country has one of the highest levels of environmental degradation in the Asia-Pacific region and faces earthquakes, tsunamis, locust infestations, climactic hazards, droughts, floods and landslides. Furthermore, La Niña conditions continue to affect the country, with the rainy season expected to last until July or August 2008.

Soaring world food prices have limited the Government’s capacity to intervene and support food insecure populations. A key challenge facing the Government and its humanitarian partners is raising the production, productivity and income of the rural poor to enable them to meet their household food needs, access good healthcare and education and allow them to build their capacity to cope with future natural disasters. It is essential that support be provided to vulnerable communities in order to ensure that the country remains stable and prevent future outbreaks of violence.

FAO in Timor-Leste

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been implementing a number of projects to improve the food security of vulnerable households in Timor-Leste, providing quality crop and vegetable seeds to improve productivity and increase dietary diversity and training in home gardening and nutritional education. In 2007, FAO supported local authorities in responding to a locust outbreak. Through FAO’s proposed assistance under the 2008 TSA, further support will be provided to diversify food production and improve food and nutrition security. As part of the 2008 TSA for Timor-Leste, FAO is appealing for USD 2 807 000.