Cyclone season wreaks havoc in poor communities

Cyclone season wreaks havoc in poor communities

Flash flooding in Dili destroys roads and buildings. Photo: Caritas Australia.


Timor-Leste is reeling from the worst floods in 40 years.  

An estimated 2,000 households and over 9,000 people across Timor-Leste have been affected by intense floods caused by Tropical Cyclone Seroja in early April. The torrential rain and landslides destroyed critical infrastructure across the country and claimed the lives of 45 people.  

Through your support, our partners on the ground were able to respond quickly to help affected communities in the hours after the disaster and travelled to flood-affected areas  to assess the most urgent needs of households and displaced people. 

Timor-Leste is one of the least developed countries in our region, with 42 per cent of the population living below the national poverty line (World Bank). Many communities live in areas that are prone to floods, landslides and cyclones.  

Disaster preparation activities can strengthen communities’ resilience to extreme weather events.  For example, Village Disaster Management Committees help community members to develop and implement plans to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. These committees empower community members to use their knowledge of the local context to identify risks and drive change in their community. 

“It gives us a sense of hope to know that our work supports the most vulnerable communities to work together and make their community safer for themselves, to know that communities have their plans on how to be prepared for disasters, to mitigate risk and do what they can to respond to disasters in their village,” said Fernando Pires, Caritas Australia representative for Timor-Leste. 


Flood damage like this has upended communites in Indonesia. Photos: NASSA, Caritas Indonesia.

Indonesia, a highly populous country, is particularly vulnerable to frequent and often disastrous weather events, especially tropical cyclones and the associated flooding, landslides and infrastructure damage.

Caritas Australia and its partners were already on the ground in East Nusa Tenggara province, where the disaster hit, working with villagers to implement a long-term recovery program through the Integrated Village Development Project.

The program equips communities with information about how to improve their farming practices so that they can increase their yield and sell more goods at market. COVID-19 compounds the health issues of natural disaster, with locals more vulnerable to infection due to loss of infrastructure and essential food and water supplies. This is why the program also provides essential and life-saving personal protective equipment and ongoing investment in COVID-19 hygiene education.


Communities in Fiji are still recovering from the damage after Tropical Cyclone Yasa in December 2020. Photo: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

Cyclone Ana tore through Fiji's northern islands in February, displacing 14,294 people and taking two lives. This came shortly after Category 5 Cyclone Yasa devastated Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, stretches of Fiji were underwater for up to three days before the water levels subsided. The spread of waterborne disease, such as dengue fever, was an immediate and pressing concern. 

In addition to at least two deaths, the cyclones threatened long-term community wellbeing with the destruction of roads, as well as homes and shared meeting spaces in villages and towns.

Through your support, and as part of its immediate response in the aftermath of the emergency, Caritas Fiji was equipped with: 

  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene kits, which assist community members to maintain personal and collective wellbeing
  • Food rations
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-dengue spraying which helps to prevent diseases such as Typhoid and Leptospirosis

Additionally, with your help, communities have been assisted with ongoing development support in the form of agricultural kits and psychosocial support for 856 families in a number of villages across Bua and Cakaudrove provinces.

Thank you for your support which is building resilience across Fiji.

Thank you for your support of improved disaster readiness across the Asia-Pacific. Communities in Timor-Leste and Indonesia need your urgent support as they continue to respond to these devastating floods. Please donate to the Timor-Leste and Indonesian Floods Appeal today.


Donate now.

Along with your generous support, this program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP).