Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: East Timor faces climate change challenge

<> ABC Online

East Timor faces climate change challenge

[This is the print version of story <>]

East Timor faces climate change challenge

Updated August 6, 2008 20:01:42

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Meeting the challenges of climate change is a global problem, but moreso for the young nation of East Timor. New research shows Timor is ill-equipped to monitor changes in the environment.

Presenter: Stephanie March

Speaker: Adao Soares, UN Convention for Climate Change national focal point; Lynne Kennedy, Oxfam food security coordinator; Arsenio Pereria, spokesman for sustainable agriculture ngo, HASATIL.

MARCH: Signs of an environment in trouble are everywhere in East Timor.

Rivers are filling up with silt washed down from higher ground as the hillsides erode, causing water to breach the banks.

Landslides destroy roads in the wet season causing havoc for rural residents.

Lynne Kennedy is Oxfam's livelihood and food security coordinator.

KENNEDY: People in East Timor are basically living on the edge anyway. They are living in a country where the climate is very variable and not predictable in some places and it is becoming increasingly more so, and is likely to get worse with climate change.

MARCH: It's difficult for experts - like UN Convention for Climate Change national focal point Adao Soares - to say exactly what the effects of climate change are, because of a 25-year gap in environmental data.

SOARES: There is data starting from 1950s but it's not complete because of Indonesian occupation in our country, so starting from 1975 there is no climate data for Timor-Leste until 2000.

MARCH: People suffering the most from changes in the environment and climate are those who rely on subsistence farming, which is almost 80 per cent of the population.

Farmers are reporting increases in temperature and stronger winds.

Lynne Kennedy from Oxfam says the usual challenges faced by farmers -including those posed by the El Nino effect - are now being exacerbated by changing, and more extreme, weather patterns.

KENNEDY: You can have crops that fail one year because of a lack of rain and you'll have crops that are washed away next year by flooding then you might get attacked by locusts that which aren't behaving in the same way the locusts have behaved previouslyanything you can think of.

MARCH: Making the problem worse are poor agriculture practices which are driven by a lack of education, or poverty, says Adao Soares.

SOARES: Most Timorese even though they have awareness that climate change is an issue but because of poverty they need the resources from nature, so that is why they always they degrade the environment

MARCH: The fledgling nation also requires both financial and technical support from other developed countries.

SOARES: We have limited capacity to deal with climate change adaptation in Timor-Leste, that is why we need capacity building for our people- especially experts and meteorology equipment to monitor.

MARCH: Lynne Kennedy from Oxfam agrees that they also need to convince the international community- including Australia - that money is needed to deal with increasing emergencies, in addition to current funding for environmental development projects.

KENNEDY: We are fighting on all these fronts at one time and we can't do it with the same resources it is nonsense to say we should be using development money to try and protect people against increasing natural disasters. 

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