Climate change in Timor-Leste

Photo: Penny Tweedie/OxfamAUS

People in Timor-Leste are noticing the climate changing. They have told us about hotter dry seasons, shorter and more unpredictable rainy seasons, more frequent extreme rainfall events and sea water intrusion. But there is very little climate data or forecasts for Timor Leste – what wasn’t destroyed through conflict has been scattered across a number of countries and yet to be collated.

Communities in Timor Leste already face high levels of poverty, limited livelihood options and widespread degradation of their natural resources. Climate change is making the situation even worse.

In partnership with other international and local NGOs, we are working with communities to identify how the climate is changing in Timor Leste, and what impact these changes are having on people there. We’re supporting women and men to develop community plans for adapting to climate change, which include activities such as planting trees to prevent erosion, conserving soil and water, and introducing organic farming methods.

Working with communities

People in Timor Leste are noticing changes in their climate, but few are aware that these changes are a global problem and will get worse. And while many of our local partners are aware of climate change and passionate about helping their communities adapt, few have hands-on experience addressing these problems.

We’ve worked closely with our local partners to provide the tools and support they need to take action. Our partners have been the front line of our program. With our support they are:

  • raising awareness in communities about climate change
  • conducting community-based research on climate change
  • helping to develop community plans to adapt to climate change

By working alongside local partners we aim to help communities retain this knowledge and experience, so they can continue to build upon these resources.

Spreading the word

The information that communities have shared with us on climate change in Timor Leste has proven valuable for raising awareness of the issues and shaping community plans as well as government policy in Timor Leste.

Through the use of small digital video cameras we’re helping community members tell their own stories about how climate change affects them and what they’re doing about it. These inspiring stories will be shown to communities and decision-makers across the country.

A DVD depicting the climate changes witnessed by women and men across the country, particularly the older members of the community, will be one of the first documented resources of climate change for the country. This valuable resource will help the government, NGOs and communities to understand how climate change is impacting on their country and what can be done. We know it’s not a rigorous scientific assessment, but research undertaken by Oxfam has shown that community knowledge of climate change is pretty reliable.