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Dili, 25 May 2016 – In response to the ongoing El Niño-induced drought which has hit Timor-Leste over the last few months, the European Union is providing about US$110,000 in humanitarian funding to assist the most affected populations.
This EU-funding supports the Timor Leste Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste - CVTL) in delivering much-needed assistance through the provision of food and safe drinking water, as well as the promotion of good hygiene practices and distributions of unconditional cash transfers for the most vulnerable households. The action will directly benefit 13,300 individuals who have been heavily impacted by the dry spell in three of the worst-hit districts in the country’s East.
In addition to meeting the urgent needs of the most affected people, the initiative will also contribute to strengthening the capacity of local communities to respond to and prepare for disasters to prevent future loss of assets.
As a result of the ongoing El Niño climatic phenomenon, large parts of Timor-Leste have been suffering from a severe drought, laying a heavy burden on the country’s agriculture and water resources. Following the lack of rainfall, the country’s maize and rice production, which dominates the country’s agricultural system, has been severely affected. Livestock have also perished due to lack of feed and reduced water supply. The present situation directly threatens the food security, access to safe water and livelihoods of 170,000 people in rural areas, particularly those dependants on livestock and single-season farming. Although access to water has improved for some communities thanks to rainfall in the past weeks, there are still some areas that are yet to receive sufficient rain. This situation is expected to persist – and potentially worsen - until early August 2016.
The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The European Union together with its Member States is the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. The European Commission through its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) helps over 120 million victims of conflicts and disasters every year. For more information, please visit ECHO's website.
For 2016, the European Commission has signed a €3 million humanitarian contribution agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.
The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The contribution agreement between the IFRC and ECHO enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million.
Pierre Prakash, Regional Information Officer for Asia and the Pacific, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO): +66 89 811 54 84, Pierre.Prakash@echofield.eu